For Michael Anthony, director of the center, watching the light bulb come on for some of these students makes his job rewarding.

“There’s possibility,” said Anthony, who’s been the center’s director for the last four years.

“There’s possibility oozing out of all of these students throughout the functions of the university. Some will grab it and go with it. Some will let it fall.”

Anthony has guided the center as it reaches out to UofL students, many who make the center a home away from home. It’s also allowed Anthony to be a mentor to many students as they earn their degrees.

The mission of the cultural center is to create a space at the university where students from underrepresented and underserved groups can find support—a place where people listen and provide valuable assistance as students learn to navigate the university system.

The end goal: increase retention rates for students and better prepare them for jobs or academic life after they get their undergraduate degrees.

Anthony said the center operates under the ACES (Advocacy, Celebration, Engagement and Scholarship) model. Overall, work at the center focuses on those pillars and staff and students work together as advocates to celebrate diverse customs and cultures, work with the community, and implement initiatives to improve graduation rates.

One of the recent projects of the center is the African-American Male Initiative, which focuses on improving the four-year graduation rate for African-American men.

“We have to plug that leak,” Anthony said. “Our black men are getting lost. How do we, as a support center, get our arms around those men and track how they’re doing. That’s what we’re working on. It’s a team effort.”

In addition, the center works in collaboration with units and departments across campus to ensure that each student find a place where they feel like they belong, be it the Cultural Center, the Women’s Center or within their academic unit.

Prior to becoming director of the Cultural Center, Anthony served as the coordinator of the Office of Civic Engagement, Leadership and Service within the Division of Student Affairs. He holds a doctorate in educational leadership and organizational development at UofL, where he also earned his master’s degree in higher education. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from North Carolina State University.

Anthony is married to Hannah Anthony, who also works at UofL. They live in New Albany and have a two-year-old daughter, Katharine.

Editor’s Note: The Louisville Defender earlier this month profiled three UofL employees in its annual African American Achievers issue. UofL Today will feature each of these profiles over the next week.