Cura Personalis: Rodney Parker
A closer look at a member of the Loyola family, considering the whole person: Rodney Parker, director of ALANA Services.
During more than a decade as Loyola’s director of ALANA (African, Latino, Asian, and Native American) Student Services, Rodney Parker has watched as the student population has grown more diverse.
Today, approximately 20 percent of Loyola students are students of color—a more than 100 percent increase from 10 years ago.
“We have been very intentional to make sure the students of color have a great experience,” Parker said. “Many parents are sending their second or third child here because of the initial experience the family had at Loyola.”
Founded in 1993 as Minority Student Services, ALANA took its current name in 2001.
ALANA focuses on enriching and educating members of Loyola’s campus community about diversity and cultural awareness.
Having a more diverse student population has resulted in richer conversations inside and outside the classroom, said Parker, who recently completed a three-year term as chairman of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities’ Conference on Diversity and Equity. He also serves on the task force creating the implementation plan for racial diversity training that Loyola is preparing to begin and serves on the President’s Council for Equity and Inclusion at Loyola.
“We are trying to create an environment where people are curious enough to ask respectful questions and to engage with each other,” said Parker, a North Carolina native who earned his bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from North Carolina State University and his Master of Divinity and Master of Theology degrees from Duke University.
While students from underrepresented populations at predominantly white institutions may sometimes face overt forms of discrimination, Parker said, they also experience unintended discrimination that flows from a lack of understanding.
“At Loyola, we have a responsibility to work with students to help them realize that intent and impact may not be the same.”
Parker, who is completing a doctorate in Pastoral Counseling, is an ordained minister in the Church of God in Christ. He serves as executive pastor of Carter Memorial Church in Baltimore, but he sees his ministry as far broader.
“I assist my senior pastor at my church,” he said, “but I feel very much that I am caring for souls while I’m at work at Loyola.”