It was a time of recognition at Wednesday’s West Virginia University Staff Council meeting as, one after another, 10 of the University’s top administrators – all of them African American – shared their work and experiences to honor Black History Month.
They told stories of their own achievement, but also of their desire to help others find their own success.
“West Virginia is one big extended family, and I am deeply rooted here,” said Shelia Price, associate dean of the School of Dentistry. “I hope to inspire a future generation of dentists, opening access to WVU’s dental education to all students.”
Price spoke of being a first-generation college student and the deep love she has for fellow Mountaineers who helped her on her journey. She was the only black female student in her class, but she noted that there are now five African American women currently enrolled in the WVU dentistry program.
Ken Gray, vice president of student affairs, recounted his responsibility shepherding students from admission to graduation with all the messy life that happens in between.
“I’m here to help students fully realize their dreams,” he said.
And Gray is someone who knows dreams; he was only the third African American to graduate from WVU College of Law in 1969, going on to attain the rank of major general in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
Oran Alston, professor of management systems, detailed how he teaches his students about the duality of technology, showing its impact on individuals and organizations both for the greater good and also the unintended consequences that sometimes arise.
Elizabeth Dooley, associate provost for undergraduate academic affairs, spoke about standing on the shoulders of those who came before, noting that her father told her she would one day teach at WVU. Prior to that encouragement, Dooley said she had never considered such a possibility.
“If you can touch it, you can realize it,” she said about reaching out and attaining dreams.
Jennifer McIntosh, executive officer of the President’s Office for Social Justice, described the kind and caring WVU community that has shown her such support over the years in her work to diversify campus.
She is currently seeking that support in a new effort to set up a food bank on campus after many students have come to her needing food.
“No one should be hungry at WVU,” she said, calling on everyone in the room to help get the program started.
Maria Gaddis described how her days spent advising freshman and sophomores on academic and life concerns at the Undergraduate Advising Services Center have given her a love and respect for WVU students.
Dana Brooks, dean of the College of Physical Activity and Sport Science, recalled how he has made social justice a cornerstone of his 30 years at WVU.
“My question is always: Is this fair to all involved?” he said.
Brooks has been looking into fairness for a long time and detailed for the Council his research into life in West Virginia, specifically within black high schools and athletic teams, after the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 rejecting segregation in schools.
Marjorie Fuller, director of the Center for Black Culture and Research, discussed the support CBC&R provides to students and scholars across campus, as well as highlighted programs it puts on throughout the year, including the Martin Luther King Jr. commemoration and breakfast, Black History Month events and the annual gala.
Fuller also noted the 2010 CBC&R Research Study Tour will be exploring and documenting the culture and history of the Gullah Islands off the coast of South Carolina.
Michael Ellington, assistant vice president for student affairs, spoke about his effort to positively affect students’ quality of life through auxiliary services such as arts and entertainment and the Mountainlair, which he said bring a sense of pride and togetherness to campus.
Todd McFadden, associate director of the Center for Black Culture and Research, wrapped up the speakers by noting today’s Black History Month was first “Negro History Week,” an observance initiated by the “Father of Black History,” Dr. Carter G. Woodson, in 1926. Woodson was a graduate of Douglass High School in Huntington.
Morrow, also African American, noted that all the speakers have touched her life at some point in her 40 years on campus and that the members of staff council appreciate the importance of black history here at WVU.
During its business session:
—Council received a report from Paul Martinelli, staff representative and member of the Advisory Council of Classified Employees, on progress of SB480, part of which aims to establish stronger compensation for classified staff. Currently, WVU is next to last in terms of classified compensation within its peer institutions. Martinelli noted ACCE is committed to seeing the bill passed and is working hard in Charleston.
—Morrow encouraged staff council members to attend the annual International Dinner, hosted by the International Student Organization on Feb. 28 at the Mountainlair.
—Morrow also said she is hopeful the new MyTime timekeeping procedure will benefit all WVU employees.
CONTACT: News and Information Services