SLU’s Richard Marks Named One of St. Louis Business Journal’s Pride Honorees
The director of the Cross Cultural Center at Saint Louis University Richard Marks, Ed.D., has been named one of the St. Louis Business Journal’s inaugural “Business of Pride” honorees, an award that celebrates both LGBTQ+ leaders and allies who advocate for inclusion and equality.
The newspaper’s launch of the awards program is designed to recognize and celebrate outstanding LGBTQ+ business leaders and companies who are successful in their careers, active in their communities and leading the way for diversity and inclusion in the business world. This year’s winners represent small businesses, as well as some of the region's largest companies.
“I feel like diversity, equity and inclusion have been important to me since I was an undergrad. That was my jam. I’m that person,” Marks said. “So when Dr. Jonathan Smith (Vice President for Diversity and Community Engagement) presented the opportunity to me to be interim director of the Cross Cultural Center four years ago, I jumped on it.”
As director of the Cross Cultural Center, Marks seeks to live its mission every day, working to support students by promoting and maintaining an inclusive environment of mutual respect for people of all backgrounds, cultures and identities.
The Cross Cultural Center provides co-curricular and educational experiences that engage the Saint Louis University community by broadening knowledge of diversity, multiculturalism and social justice.
“I’m not done learning, exploring who I am,” Marks said. “I have my own biases. But I am open and willing to hear others’ perspectives and that
is a start, a beginning of how we get to a place of understanding. Not tolerance,
but acceptance. This is my life and my purpose.”
As Marks reflects on his hopes for students and the SLU community, he urges openness, respect and appreciation for each other.
“My message to students is to be open to possibilities. Explore yourself and others.
These are the most formative years of your life. Here, you have a family: many aunts,
uncles, cousins, adopted family members. They can be wonderful contributors to your
growth, if you allow them to be.
“You’re going to come here with a foundation that will allow you to succeed. You’re going to question or solidify those things. It’s okay if you change your mind. It’s okay if you find a new identity. This is how you find your purpose. You find your purpose when you find out who you are.”
For the SLU community at large, Marks shares this advice on how to be a good ally and commit to creating a more equitable and inclusive world.
“You must have a passion. I think that diversity has become a buzzword. People know how to use it, but what is missing is the internal work that helps one to grow. As a person of color, I can’t afford and I don’t have the luxury to take things for granted.
“We want things to be equal, fair. I challenge faculty, staff and the whole community to think beyond the surface and dig deep into the world of self-discovery. To acknowledge and to be accountable for your privileges, your identities, and what you possess and hold in this world. Everyone has a responsibility here.”
Marks joined the SLU community in 2014 and previously served as assistant director of residence education in the Department of Housing and Residence Life.