February is Black History Month. Established in 1976, Black History Month honors the contributions of African Americans to U.S. history, science, mathematics, literature, art, music and culture. Kutztown University celebrates the month with events for the entire community.
“It is a primary goal of Kutztown University to promote a caring campus community and to strengthen our multi-cultural programming,” said Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, university president. “We look forward to celebrating Black History Month through extensive quality programming designed to engage the entire KU family.” All events are open to the public.
The Multicultural Center aims to celebrate and honor cultures and communities year-round. Full listing of events can be found online, including its Open House 12-2 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 10. Get involved by contacting [email protected].
“While we celebrate Black History Month and the tradition of its importance at KU, our collective commitment to justice, equity, diversity and inclusion at KU is inspiring,” said Dr. Warren Hilton, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs. “As we know, the success of all of us at KU is tied to the achievement of our faculty, staff and students from historically marginalized populations.”
The Rohrbach Library has made numerous resources available digitally for Black History Month. DEI LibGuide, located at https://library.kutztown.edu/edi, lists resources the library has on topics of diversity, equity, justice and inclusion. It also hosts a DEI blog at rohrbachlibrary.wordpress.com. Rohrbach Library is also featuring two bulletin boards showcasing books and DVDs celebrating Black History. Access to the items have scannable codes for easy access. The codes will point the patron to the location in the building or bring it up if it is an e-book or streaming video.
The KU chapter of Association of Pennsylvania State College and University Faculties (APSCUF)’s Social Justice Committee held multiple events throughout the week of Feb. 1-4, for Black Lives Matter Week of Action, including speaker Valerie J. Cofield, president and chief executive officer of the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council.
The Social Justice Book Club meets Thursday’s beginning Feb. 18. Its book selection for the spring semester is titled, “On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case For Hope,” by Deray McKesson. Discussions will be hosted by Dr. Deb Sailsbery and Ms. Caecilia Holt via Zoom at 11 a.m., Feb. 18. Email [email protected] to register. Free books are available to the first 20 individuals who sign up.
The KU Commission on Human Diversity is pleased to announce its 11th annual conference on human diversity that will be held virtually Friday, Feb. 26. This year’s theme, “Diversity in a Virtual World: Toward Equity and Inclusion,” encourages presentations related to diversity, equity and inclusion in a virtual world. Students and scholars are welcome to present on any topic related to human diversity. Learn More and Register.
KU’s Frederick Douglass Institute (FDI) is hosting events throughout February. Details on all events can be found on the FDI website or by contacting [email protected].
- African Diasporic Literature Read-In, 7-9 p.m., Feb. 19
- FDI Discussion Series: “Douglass’ Political Artistry in the 1845 Narrative, 11 a.m. to noon, Feb. 24
- Virtual Concert: A Celebration of Black Composers, 7-9 p.m., Feb. 26
The LGBTQ+ Resource Center is hosting its fourth annual Gender and Sexual Minorities Conference 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday, Feb. 12, via Zoom. This year’s theme is “Activism: Lead, Give, Build, Teach, Question, Initiate, Advocate.” To learn more, go to the GSM Conference webpage. It is also hosting Queer Black History Jeopardy 7-8 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 24, on Zoom. Details can be found online.
Kutztown University has continued its increased commitment to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion on campus. In August 2020, KU initiated more than 100 action items. Follow the progress of these items and get involved online. These initiatives are wide ranging but all work toward diversity, equity and inclusion. Examples of these initiatives include increasing diversity in faculty/staff recruitment and hiring process, adding multicultural components to existing courses and adding new courses and a multicultural minor; anti bias training for employees; diversity training for all new students; collaboration in increasing diversity to campus events, programming and art exhibits; reviewing and updating policies and procedures for equity in many areas including admissions, the honors program and increased funding and personnel to meet future DEI initiatives. University president Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson also charged the Commission on the Status of Minorities and additional staff and students to be a part of a Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) Task Force to work with these initial initiatives and develop an ongoing long-range JEDI Strategic Plan.
KU extended its effort toward diversity and inclusion with the creation of a new position and the hiring of KU alumnus Bilal Salaam ’06 as the university’s diversity and inclusion officer for Intercollegiate Athletics & Recreational Services.
In addition, KU has grant programs dedicated to its minority students and students of color. Upward Bound assists low-income, first-generation college-bound high school students in the successful completion of secondary education and prepares them academically and socially for the enrollment in and completion of higher education. The GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs), a nationwide, college readiness grant initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Education in partnership with the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, provides academic support and college readiness services to middle and high school students within the Allentown School District, Harrisburg School District and Norristown Area School District.
Kutztown University is also a campus partner with AmeriCorps and Philadelphia Higher Education Network for Neighborhood Development (PHENND). Designed as a college completion and success strategy, the Next Steps AmeriCorps Program engages students in part-time AmeriCorps service. The Next Steps AmeriCorps Program is for rising sophomores and juniors who are graduates of high-poverty school districts such as the School District of Philadelphia.
The Next Steps AmeriCorps Program engages college students in community service, mentoring, supportive workshops and leadership development. Participants, known as Corps Members, will do 300 hours of community service in the course of one year. Corps members can choose any kind of regular service placement and will also mentor two incoming first-year students as part of their service.
Kutztown University has partnered with ChildPromise, Inc. to present a one-of-a-kind support program for students who are current or former members of the foster care system. To show dedication to successful students in foster care, Providing Resources and Opportunities for Future Standouts (PROFS) provides college access programs, such as college prep and financial knowledge workshops, for high school students and connects KU students to the campus resources that will help them succeed.
Academically, the theme of KU’s recent Assessment Day for employees on campus was titled, “How to Infuse Equity into Assessment Practices,” by Dr. Tami Eggleston of McKendree University.
The University Community Response Team, consisting of faculty, administrative, student, community leaders and experts, advise the president of the university on how to respond to potentially bias conduct. A reporting form is available for all individuals on campus.
Learn more about this month by attending these Black History Month events or research facts online. For questions or to learn more, contact KU’s Dean of Students office at [email protected].