Campus Closeup: Darnell Bradley
Even though the hit TV show “Sanford and Son” has been off the air since 1977, it still plays on in the heart of Darnell Bradley (Diversity Student Services). Bradley owns the series on DVD, and confesses that it’s a guilty pleasure. “My wife picks on me after having to sit through a few episodes, but otherwise I try to stay out of people’s way with it.”
Guilty pleasures aside, there is more that makes Bradley unique. Having been NMU’s director of diversity student services for only eight months, he has already brought a variety of culture to campus with the Step Afrika concert and African American Heritage Month events. “Step Afrika is my most memorable work experience so far. We had over 500 people in attendance, and a great number outside still trying to get in. The response was incredible.”
Bradley came to NMU from Northern Illinois University, where he worked in leadership development for three years. The transition from a campus of 26,000 to a campus of just more than 9,000 was refreshing, he said. “I like walking around campus and seeing a set of familiar faces every day as opposed to a larger campus where you see different people every day and have no connection with them at all.” He added that large campuses like NIU aren’t bad, but he feels he will get to know his students a lot better at NMU.
Bradley’s official duties are to oversee cultural programming and academic enrichment for minority students, and serve as a resource for faculty and staff for diversity issues. He also believes it’s important to his job to help students however he can throughout the school year, whether it’s discussing class choices with them, proofreading midterm essays, or writing letters of recommendation for jobs. “I just go with the flow of the semester; it adds a bit of hodgepodge to the job,” he said.
Outside of the office, Bradley is the coach of his 7-year-old son’s basketball team. He also enjoys reading, doing research, and being able to sit around his fire pit looking at the stars. “You can’t really start bonfires or even see stars in Chicago.” His favorite thing about Marquette, he said, is the view of the lake in the summertime.
In high school, Bradley wanted to be a mechanical engineer, but changed his mind when he realized that he didn’t have the head for chemistry. “I liked mechanical engineering because it gave the opportunity to design something and bring it to life. But I kind of do that now with students’ lives, and it’s just as amazing.”
A greater appreciation for the culture that everyone brings to campus is the lasting impression that Bradley said he would like to make at NMU. “With all of the events that my department brings, we want to be able to reach out to everybody. That means that although a particular series of events may be attached to black or Latino history month, that doesn’t mean that anyone’s excluded. Everybody’s allowed to be included and learn new things. I want to make sure that everything’s inclusive for students, faculty, staff, and the entire community here."
Campus Closeup is a regular feature of the NMU faculty-staff newsletter. It profiles individual employees, offering a glimpse of their professional responsibilities and personal interests.