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Correction appended.

Associate Protestant University Chaplain William Mathis has stepped into the role of interim director of the Third World Center for this year. He began serving as interim director on July 1, following the departure of Dean Karen McLaurin '74. The selection process for a permanent director is "in the works," Mathis said.

McLaurin, who headed the TWC for 17 years and is better known to the community as Dean K, plans to take a year's leave from Brown to care for her father's health. After that, she may return to Brown in a new role, according to a message from the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services to the University community posted on the TWC's website.

The TWC website also links to a blog where students and alums have posted their memories of McLaurin's time at Brown.

"Dean K has been an icon of a person as well as an administrator who has taken the Third World Center to enormous heights," Mathis said, acknowledging that McLaurin leaves behind big shoes to fill. "But I thank God she is going to be around and we stay in constant communication, so I don't necessarily have to fill her shoes — I can kind of walk beside what she's done."

Mathis emphasized his commitment to maintain the Minority Peer Counselor and Third World Transition Programs, which he called "cornerstones" of the center.

He said this year's TWTP, a program for incoming first-years that takes place in the days preceding orientation, has already exceeded its goal of enrolling 200 students, out of about 500 incoming underrepresented minority students.

Another of the Third World Center's activities is supporting student cultural organizations and developing their coordinators as student leaders, Mathis said. He hopes to reach out more to these organizations to provide additional support in developing their members' leadership skills and to involve them more with the whole campus.

Eventually, the center will try to create a possible student leadership institute, Mathis said.

Mathis first joined Brown as associate chaplain after working as a pastor at a Protestant church in New Haven, Conn.

Mathis attended Morehouse College, an all-male and historically black college in Georgia, and after graduation spent several years working for a congressional committee on narcotics abuse and control. He later attended law school at Boston College and earned a Master's of Divinity from Harvard.

Mathis is not the only new arrival in the TWC. He is joined by Rosario Navarro, formerly a project manager in the Office of the Vice President for Campus Life and Student Services. Navarro is filling a new position in the TWC as associate director of diversity initiatives at the Third World Center.

As Navarro moves to the TWC, she will bring with her diversity programs that she led in her former position, including a group for first-generation college students and a mentoring program for students from racial and ethnic minority groups. She said administrators are also considering moving advising groups for Latino and black students from the Office of Student Life into the TWC, though that will not happen this year.

"I think I speak for myself and others when I say we're really looking forward to working with Reverend Mathis," Navarro said, praising Mathis' energy.

The creation of Navarro's position comes as Associate Dean for Orientation and Diversity Programs in the Office of Student Life Kisa Takesue '88, a coordinator for the TWC, leaves her position to become the new director of the Stephen Robert '62 Campus Center and Student Activities. Anjali Sridhar will remain the TWC's assistant director.

"I'm looking forward to an exciting year and for the TWC to go to even higher heights as we prepare for the new director," Mathis said. He said he plans to return full-time to his position as the University's associate Protestant chaplain at the end of the year, a function he will continue to serve while directing the TWC.

An earlier version of this article mistakenly stated that Mathis worked at two Protestant churches in New Haven, Conn. before coming to Brown.


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