As the first person to be the Director: Student Opportunity, Success and Equity, for the Arts Division, Danette Buie is thrilled about her new role in this recently created position. “I’m truly excited about working at an institution that is committed to student success by providing a student-centered, lifelong learning environment for UC Santa Cruz’s diverse community,” she says.
“Danette is a contemporary scholar of these critical issues,” said Dean Susan Solt. “One of the most significant things we can do is build social and cultural capital in the world. Danette not only profoundly understands this concept personally, but also comprehends it as an expert in her field who has studied this area extensively.”
Arts Division Chief of Staff, Alison Trybom Lucas envisioned the new position, along with Dean Solt, after years of seeing that there was a desperate need for someone to own these critical issues within the Division. “Danette’s role is about recruitment, retention, and launching students into their careers,” said Lucas. “At the end of the day, if we can do these things well for our students, then we have done our jobs.”
A substantial part of Buie’s role will be managing Dean Solt’s Creative Entrepreneurship Internship program (CEI). The mission of the CEI is to provide undergraduate and graduate students with the training and support necessary to generate opportunities in artistic and non-artistic fields alike, responding to unmet community and corporate needs that will fuel the economic and cultural development of California.
"This is incredible recognition for the Arts"
Funding for CEI was provided by the UC Office of the President (UCOP) after Dean Solt submitted and extensive proposal outlining the program. “This is incredible recognition for the Arts and validates how we are transforming the lives of our students, and are contributing in essential ways to the economy of our state and the nation,” said Dean Solt.
Buie will oversee the implementation of the CEI program, in which she will assist in identifying, developing, and maintaining internship and employment opportunities appropriate to the Arts Division programs, while also maintaining positive relationships with employers.
Reporting to Alison Trybom Lucas, Buie’s new position will also involve developing important relationships that will benefit the students and programs in the Arts. Already, Buie has made great headway in San Francisco, with support from Assistant Professor Jennifer Maytorena Taylor, and created valuable partnerships with local broadcast station, KQED as well as ITVS, which funds and presents documentaries on public television.
She also was recently working with the Arts special projects consultant in Los Angeles, Erica Di Bona, where she met with executives from various entertainment companies, and solidified partners for CEI at Lionsgate Entertainment Corporation and at Kadenze, an online learning platform specializing in the arts and creative technologies.
The value of Buie’s position in the Arts is being recognized across campus. She was recently invited to join Chancellor Blumenthal’s Diversity Advisory Council for the 2017-2018 academic year and is making strategic connections with colleagues in the Office of Student Success as well.
The First Person in Her Family to Attend College
“Along with forging relationships in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and beyond, Danette is working with the Career Center on campus to advocate and provide more opportunities for students in the Arts Division,” said Dean Solt. “Our program model will help current students and graduates enter the global landscape confidently as artist entrepreneurs who feel empowered to establish their unique place in the arts and creative industries."
As a child growing up in Chicago’s inner city, Buie was determined to be a lawyer. She became the first person in her family to attend college and earned a BS in law from Southern Illinois University. But after being accepted into an MPA/JD dual program, she decided instead to focus solely on the MPA and study education.
“Being an African-American woman from a low socio-economic background, I always knew I was different and that my journey in life would not be easy,” she reflected. “My mother, who was a single parent and had a limited academic background, still believed in a higher education for me. She made many sacrifices, and worked two or three jobs to put me in various activities in community-based organizations.”
Buie’s segue from law to education began when she started working with children and youth services in the urban areas of Chicago that lacked quality childcare. From there, she garnered more experience in higher education by working for a college access and success community-based organization, which served first-generation students.
Learning early the value of self-reliance
“As the Senior Associate of College Persistence [at Chicago Scholars], I served as the main point of contact for students and faculty/staff regarding student retention by identifying low-performing students and conducting outreach to develop individualized plans for success, and monitoring progress,” she explained.
Being an only child, Buie was close to her mother and stepfather and learned early on how to be self-reliant. “I never knew what it was like not to be busy,” she said. “My mom did not have the social and cultural capital to help me, so she used her limited funds to place me in programs that would allow me to gain the experience I needed to accomplish my goals and obtain a higher education.”
Buie’s extensive career in education continued to develop with her most recent position having been the Program Administrator, College of Arts and Sciences at Roosevelt University in Chicago. Her responsibilities included advising students in a variety of areas including course selection and career development; facilitating study abroad programs; maintaining enrollment strategies; serving as a member of the Dean’s Leadership Council; and participating in university-wide administrative policy development.
Now, as she enters this newest phase of her life and career at UC Santa Cruz, Buie looks forward to advocating for students across the campus, managing the Creative Entrepreneurship Internship program, and identifying additional resources that promote student success strategies to increase persistence, retention, and academic success for all students.
Advocating Student Success at UCSC and Beyond
“It’s essential that there be a student advocate in the office of the Dean,” said Dean Solt. “And that starts with every aspect of a student’s career in the Arts Division. Our goal is to advocate success for our students not only here, but way beyond UC Santa Cruz as they determine their place in the world. We’ll be looking at their trajectories, tracking them all the way out the door, and examining professional opportunities and practices.”
Buie was drawn to UCSC and the new position due to the overall responsibilities, which align with both her personal and professional experience. “The mission and vision of the university attracted me,” she said. “The institution’s commitment to creating innovative educational programs, high-impact research, and service to society are recognized in its international reputation for excellence rankings, honors, and awards.”
As she settles into the Santa Cruz lifestyle, Buie is looking forward to relaxing on the beach, among many other exhilarating activities she enjoys. “I like to do anything social and interactive…from jet skiing, watching sports, traveling, attending comedy shows, museums, zip-lining, and ATV riding. I’m very adventurous, but I can also watch YouTube for hours!”
As for her student motto, Buie wisely advises: “Be humble in all things but ambition”.