New CLAE dean comes home

The new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education has come home to Michigan and is excited to be here.

Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka, who took over for the retir- ing Mark Denham on Aug. 1, most recently served as vice provost for Scholarly and Inclusive Excellence
at Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn. But the Dearborn Heights native said in an interview she wanted to be back in the mix of academic life with faculty and students, and jumped at the opportunity to return to where her family is from.

Boryczka said she wanted to be back in an urban, diverse environment making Detroit Mercy a perfect fit. She said those with different socioeconomic, racial and religious backgrounds is part of the school’s strength.

“The diversity that we have here at the University of Detroit Mercy is really important to me,” she said.

Diversity is also one of her main visions for CLAE as the new dean. She incorporated diversity into her courses at her previous institution through community work and even a hip-hop block party as an end-of-semester project.

“Our diversity is our strength,” she said. “The diversity that we have leads to students who have a capac- ity to think in different ways with different tools at their disposal.”

CLAE includes 13 departments and serves virtually all undergradu- ate students with the core courses it provides.

“[Our students] can take a problem such as climate change and look at it through a religious, historical, political, humanities perspective in order to be prepared to be trans- formative leaders of the future,” Boryczka said.

She believes that the way to get there at this point is through the practice of “radical hospitality” which is grounded in the university’s Jesuit and Mercy traditions.

“It is the idea that we remember each person has a deep and rich his- tory and legacy in order to welcome and be welcomed by them in the present to create an inclusive com- munity of belonging,” she said.

This idea came to life the first day of first-year orientation a few weeks ago.

Boryczka was walking down the hall in the Briggs Building where two students were talking and expressing their excitement for finally being here and in college.

One of the students asked for her card and “that moment was a moment of belonging, inclusion,” she said. “We are here for and with our students, to accompany them and they accompany us as we all move towards our transformative journey into the future.”

Academics and community are not the only things that excite Boryczka about being back in Detroit.

She’s enjoyed eating at new restaurants like Takoi in Corktown, spent Labor Day weekend at the Detroit Jazz Festival and often visits the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Culture is important to Boryczka as she regularly travels to Tanzania to work with educators at Loyola High School in the city of Dar es Salaam.

It’s there she learned the concept of “Ujamaa” which means that “no one of us can exist without all the rest of us.” It is the idea of unity through community.

She said this relates to CLAE, Detroit Mercy and the city of Detroit as a whole.

“None of us do anything in the world without other people having a role in that,” she said. “We all need each other.”