Director leaves to pursue graduate degree

Director leaves to pursue graduate degree

After teaching high school history for several years, Andrew Shen decided he wanted to experience something different within the education field. He wasn’t looking for a job at Northeastern, but in February 2005 the position as director of the university’s new Asian American Center (AAC) came across his path.

“It was like serendipity, I guess,” Shen said, stating that he found the idea of addressing Asian-American issues in a higher education setting appealing.

After three years, Shen announced he is leaving Northeastern to go back to graduate school.

Ed Klotzbier, vice president for student affairs, announced Shen’s departure on the myNEU portal July 18.

“Those who know Andrew understand what an asset he has been to Northeastern since his arrival here three years ago,” Klotzbier said in a statement. “Andrew was instrumental in the creation of this world-class cultural center and developed programs, initiatives and events that have greatly benefited Northeastern.”

Klotzbier also announced the center’s assistant director, Delia Hom, will assume the acting director position starting Sept. 1.

While Asian student organizations existed prior to 2005, Shen led the first university sponsored center.

“Even though groups existed, [the center] could create a more cohesive community and connect to the entire university,” he said.

The AAC moved into 109 Hemenway St. a little more than a year ago.

“I think because [Shen] was the first director, for a long time I think he embodied the center,” Hom said. “He was here before the physical center, and had a large role in shaping where it would go and its personality.”

Katherine Hou, a junior political science major, worked for Shen as one of his first work studies when he came to the university. Hou said Shen’s responsiveness to student input has helped the center grow and expand.

“It’s been amazing. He’s really receptive to student involvement, so if we have ideas or plans he’ll hear us out,” Hou said. “He usually gives us initiative to go with it.”

Student input had a large impact when the university decided to move into the building on Hemenway Street, Hou said, including the creation of the “Billiard Room,” which serves as a place where students can gather and relax.

“[It’s an] easy place for people to come by and hang out. Andrew’s door is always open. It’s just so welcoming,” she said.

Shen will be attending Harvard University’s school leadership program and said his ultimate goal is to return to the high school level in an administrative role and eventually become a school principal.

“His leaving creates a kind of void, but we’ll be able to get past it,” Hom said. “We have lots of people … [who are] very passionate and committed to what we do and will help us get through this transition.”

Shen is confident in Hom’s ability to direct the center.

“In a lot of ways, Delia has a lot more experience than I do with student programming and a longer higher education background,” Shen said. “I think she can explore areas that she is experienced with – connecting with students and maintaining relationships.”

Hom received her bachelor of arts in cognitive science from Vassar College and a master’s in the same subject from John Hopkins University. She also has a master’s degree in education from Claremont Graduate University.

Hou said she believes Hom will bring many new ideas to the center. As assistant Hom was in charge of a book club, brought speakers and workshops to campus and put a focus on being involved in the community, like through attending a spoken word event in Cambridge, Hou said.

“A lot of students are glad that she has been offered the position, and that we are still retaining what we have,” Hou said. “We’re gonna miss Andrew and that he was our first director, and it’s really hard imagining the center without him, but he’s left it in good hands.”

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