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Professor’s Passion Inspires Students

Associate Professor Susan Taft’s first memory of teaching was as a doctoral graduate student standing in front of a class of students, trying to keep her knees from knocking and her hands from shaking. Now, after enthusiastically teaching at Kent State University for more than two decades, Taft has earned one of the 2011 Distinguished Teaching Awards, which is awarded to full-time tenure track faculty who demonstrate extraordinary teaching.

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Kent State University Marks 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

Posted Jan. 16, 2012 | Foluke Omosun

Events feature global performances and honor significant contributions to the promotion of diversity

enter photo description
Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., activist, social
critic and one of the nation’s most notable
African-American leaders, will be the keynote
speaker at Kent State’s Martin Luther King Jr.
Celebration on Jan. 26.

Marc Lamont Hill, Ph.D., activist, social critic and one of the nation’s most notable African-American leaders, will be the keynote speaker at Kent State’s 10th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Thursday,
Jan. 26
, at the Kent Student Center. The theme for this year’s event is “Empowering the Individual, Strengthening the Community,” and is free and open to the public.

Hill is an associate professor of English education and anthropology at Columbia University, and is an award-winning newspaper columnist and blogger. He is known for his thoughtful perspectives on everything from sexuality to education and religion. Hill’s respected commentary has been featured on NPR, in The Washington Post, Essence and The New York Times, as well as on Fox News where he is a regular contributor.

“Our program this year not only celebrates the life of Dr. King, but also reflects the ideals that he stood for in reference to civil rights and all people being treated the same,” says Geraldine Hayes-Nelson, Ph.D., executive director of Kent State’s Diversity Programing and Community Outreach.

A cultural celebration of music, word and dance will take place on Thursday, Jan. 26, from 1-1:45 p.m., at the Kent Student Center Kiva. The celebration will continue at 2:10 p.m. with a lecture by Hill at the Kent Student Center Ballroom, and the Diversity Trailblazer Award presentation that will recognize contributions to the promotion of diversity. Signing of Hill’s book, Beats, Rhymes and Classroom Life: Hip-Hop Pedagogy and the Politics of Identity, and reception will follow at 4 p.m. on the Ballroom balcony. The book is now available for purchase at the University Bookstore, and will also be sold from 1-2 p.m. on Jan. 26, prior to his speech. An ASL interpreter will be present, and the event will be streamed live for Regional Campuses.

This year, Kent State will begin with a week of pre-celebratory events, starting Tuesday, Jan. 17, with screenings of documentaries and films about King and the civil rights era, and other diversity-related events leading up to the actual campuswide celebration on Jan. 26.

Kent State has also added an international component to the annual celebration, featuring for the first time a Festival of Nations on Friday, Jan. 20, from 5-7 p.m., at the Kent Student Center Ballroom. The event will educate and celebrate the diversity of Kent State students and showcase a variety of cultural activities from around the world.

“Dr. King’s ideals are in line with Kent State’s ‘you belong here’ mantra, which is all about creating an inclusive environment where everyone feels welcome, valued and respected. His impact was felt globally, and that is why we feel it is important to involve our international students in our programming this year,” says Hayes-Nelson.

Registration tables will be available at the Kent Student Center on Jan. 23, 24 and 25, from 11 a.m. to
2 p.m., for faculty, staff and students interested in signing-up for Kent State’s “100 Commitments” initiative that provides learning experiences about diversity and inclusion.

For more information about the event, visit www.kent.edu/diversity/events/events.cfm or call 330-672-8563.