Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion Adds New Associate Director

Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales comes to Drexel University from the University of New Haven with a long history of work in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Meet Jennifer Thorndike Gonzales, new associate director for the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion

With a new year comes new opportunities, and the new associate director for Drexel University’s Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion is eager to embrace every one that comes her way. 

Jennifer Thorndike-Gonzales, who started in the role in January, has been working in diversity, equity and inclusion spaces throughout her whole academic career. She earned her doctorate in Hispanic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and spent five years as a professor before making a career switch and working in DEI at the University of New Haven. Her goal at Drexel is to make students feel a sense of belonging and inclusion through the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion by enhancing partnerships and programs that already exist. 

“I am really looking forward to working together with different offices who do programming and training that intersects with the center and bring in my expertise to both help them and help them support the center and our students,” Thorndike-Gonzales said. 

She wants to bring that about through partnerships with other offices around Drexel to solidify student empowerment at the University, and through conversations with student leaders to learn the needs of various Drexel communities. She hopes to host representation and equity workshops and come up with ways to support faculty and professional staff with DEI initiatives. 

The office engages Drexel’s LGBTQIA+, first-generation, African American, Hispanic/Latinx, Asian, Native American/indigenous, immigrant and international student populations through advocacy and identity-based community building. The goal is for students to feel that their entire identity is recognized, valued and respected. The center supports a lactation room, nondenominational prayer room, meditation room, sensory room, lending library and Mario’s Market. Thorndike-Gonzales wants to solidify the relationships with all constituents on campus and work together to provide a safe/brave space where Drexel students from different backgrounds can be who they are or explore who they want to be. The Center is starting a “Meet the authors” book exhibition in their library, which features authors from diverse identities, “Proud & Safe,” a series of candid forums about LGBTQIA+ safety on campus, and more is coming. The SCDI just featured a Salsa Night and a book exhibition to celebrate the Afro-Latino/a/e/x community.

“Diversity work goes into everything the University does, including academics and especially supporting student affairs,” Thorndike-Gonzalez said. “I’m excited to meet different communities and learn about the students here so we can help them thrive in this environment. Working together with a student to help them find a place where they can thrive and then seeing them graduate, that is beautiful.” 

Thorndike-Gonzales emphasized that she wants the Student Center for Diversity and Inclusion to have an open-door policy, both literally and digitally. She encouraged students to come by her office, which is on the second floor (214 C) of the Rush Building or send her an email at

“I think staying in touch with students and listening to what they want from us is one of the most important things,” Thorndike-Gonzales said. “Transforming those interactions into efforts to give students a place to thrive is what motivates me.”