Affirming our belief in the value of each of our members, the power of coming together as a community, and the responsibility each of us has for being actively engaged in creating and sustaining a diverse, equitable and inclusive community, the Utica University community heeds the calls of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr to recognize our common humanity, acknowledging that, in his words, "whatever affects one of us directly affects all indirectly."
How You Can Support Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Utica University
Funding is currently underway for three new scholarships created to expand access to the life-changing power of a Utica University education. Please consider supporting one or more of the following scholarships here:
Utica University Black Alumni Association's Jonathan Adewumi '86 Memorial Scholarship awarded to a full-time junior or senior undergraduate student with demonstrated financial need and exceptional leadership qualities that embody the spirit of entrepreneur and loyal alumnus Jonathan Adewumi '86.
Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., Robert D. Horton Endowed Scholarship awarded annually to undergraduate students with demonstrated financial need who exhibit a high level of leadership, persistence, perseverance, and dedication to community service.
The Dean Alane Varga Black Lives Matter Social Justice Scholarship awarded annually to an undergraduate student from an underrepresented population who demonstrates exceptional leadership qualities and a commitment to fostering a positive, inclusive and equitable community through engagement in activities furthering social justice.
As we commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King and continue our commitment to celebrating Black heritage, we invite you to join us for a series of programs and discussions brought to you by various members in our community including the DEI Collaborative as well as the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Student Transitions.
Alumni, students, faculty & staff are invited to join in reading Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum's book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
An opening kick-off conversation will be held on February 25, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Moderators will lead a discussion about the first chapter, why the book was chosen, and looking ahead at what’s to come.
A final wrap-up conversation will occur on March 25, 2021 from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m., when moderators will lead a constructive, vulnerable, and open conversation reflecting on the book, what participants might have learned, and what are intentional changes we can make to improve relationships.
We hope you will join us! The Advancement Division will provide a paperback version of Dr. Tatum’s book to all moderators, as well as, the first 15 registered participants.
A Conversation with members of the Utica College Black Alumni Association and members of the Divine Nine - the nine international historically Black Greek fraternities and sororities, as they reflect on the value, memories, and impact of membership.
Members of the UC community can listen, engage, and learn how being involved in a historically Black Greek organization on a historically white college campus can help students to persist to graduation and beyond.
Join this live virtual conversation on February 19, 2021, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.
Dr. Anthony Baird - Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Student Transitions, Chief Diversity Officer
While earning his bachelors of Arts in sociology and anthropology from Utica College, he was a member of the Student Senate, the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, and a member of and later elected President of the Black Student Union. By his senior year he became a visible and well-known student leader on our campus.
Serving as a Co-Moderator for the evening’s event, he possesses expertise in education, personal and professional development, nonprofit organizations, business development, startups, and entrepreneurship. He holds experiences and skills with operations management, leadership, organizational behavior, diversity and inclusion, organization culture, program evaluation, conflict resolution, employer relations, advising, and talent development.
Nearly 30 years after his UC graduation, and earning a few more degrees along the way, this life-long learner has returned to Utica College as the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Student Transitions. This Chief Diversity Officer is again visible and a well-known campus leader.
Lisa McCarthy Dennis - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
(Class of 88) hales from Queens, New York is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. She pledged Nu Chi Chapter at Utica College in Spring, 1987 and is currently a member of the Wilmington (DE) Alumnae Chapter. She obtained her B.S. in Criminal Justice and has celebrated her 27th year as Senior Paralegal in a local law firm. In 2008 she was recognized by the YWCA of Delaware for her efforts in eliminating racism and empowering women. More recently she has served on the Social Action and Physical and Mental Health Committees of the Wilmington (DE) Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. Last month she was invited to join Wilmington University's Legal Studies Advisory Board (an American Bar Association program) who's goal is to keep in touch with the community it serves to improve the program and curriculum as well as provide support to students with internships and job opportunities.
"I credit my affiliation as a member of Delta Sigma Theta with shaping the beginnings of my drive towards public service and empowering the Black community. All of that originated on the campus of Utica College. The bond with my sorority sisters, a group of women of achievement, rooted in faith, is like no other. It has welcomed me in new cities and situations where I didn't know a soul and I have been honored to do the same."
Marquis Simpson - Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.
Marquis Simpson graduated from Utica College in May 2020 with a major in Criminal Justice, and a minor in Cybersecurity along with a concentrating in Cyber Criminology and Policy. He initiated Fall 19, Delta Beta Chapter, The Executive Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity Incorporated. Marquis currently serve as an Advisor for the Colony at Utica College, while employed full-time at The Bank Of New York Mellon. He was not only active in Greek Life on campus he participated in four years of College Football and Track as well.
Frank Ayala - Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
- Attend Utica College of Syracuse University from Fall 1990 to Spring 1994
- Out of a line of 7, with only 3 crossing, became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. second semester freshman year in Spring 1991
- Graduated from Utica College of Syracuse University Spring 1994 with a B.A. majoring in Political Science and minoring in Business Administration
- Completed a 10-month program with Utica College of Syracuse University Division of Continuing Education certification Legal Assistant Program to become a paralegal in Spring 1995
- Graduated in 2000 from the University of Buffalo School of Law with a Juris Doctor (J.D.) with a concentration in International Law and Civil Litigation to later attain a license to practice law in New York since 2004
- Graduate in 2020 from Hunter College with a Master of Science in Education (MSEd) with a Major in Teacher of Students with Disabilities - Adolescent, Grades 7-12 (Generalist), after completing the New York City Teaching Fellows Program and currently serving as a Special Educator with the Department of Education in a high school located in the South Bronx
- In conjunction with fellow alumni who graduated from Utica College who are Alphas, founded in 2020 Alpha FLITE (http://alphaflite.com/), which is a start-up non-profit company with a focus on Financial Literacy & Investment Through Education with the purpose to promote financial literacy amongst targeted groups of African Americans and LatinX communities
Ben Jeffers - Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
- Brother Ben Jeffers - 28th Second District Representative, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.
- Initiated at Kappa Chapter (Syracuse University) May 7, 1971
- Basileus at Kappa Chapter
- Graduate Advisor for Delta Mu Chapter (Cornell University) 1986 - 1995
- 2nd District Corridor Representative 1990 - 2000, Supervising Upstate Chapters (Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, Watertown and Binghamton)
- 2nd District Representative 2002 - 2004, Supervising 5 states (New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Pennsylvania)
- Assistant to the 39th Grand Basileus 2010 - Present
- Graduate Advisor to Kappa Chapter (Syracuse University) 2015 - Present
Alan Paynter - Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc.
Alan T. Paynter, Hobart & William Smith Colleges’ Director of Admissions began his tenure after spending 20 years in college admissions in Pennsylvania at both Lebanon Valley College and Dickinson College respectively. Prior to transitioning into higher education, Alan wore several hats as an elementary school teacher, mental health professional, non-profit executive and coach. He holds degrees from Kutztown University and Duquesne University. Alan’s work in admissions has primarily been at small liberal arts colleges where he’s spearheaded the colleges’ diversity recruitment efforts, served as an athletics liaison and managed the application review processes. Mr. Paynter has been a sought-after speaker and panelist around the country on various topics surrounding the college admissions process and college access work. Alan has enjoyed publishing several local and national articles including two featured in the New York Times’ Room for Debate. Additionally, he is the founder and Head Coach of the Hershey Blaze Track Club serving more than 250 youth annually and has earned more than 200 regional/ national awards including 22 National Champions.
Paynter is a charter member and Polaris of the Delta Alpha Omega Alumni Chapter of Iota Phi Theta Fraternity, Inc. based out of the Harrisburg/ Hershey area of Pennsylvania. He was initiated in to the fraternity in the Fall of 1994 at the Beta Kappa Chapter at Kutztown University. His tireless for work and dedication to youth is far reaching stems in part from his membership in Iota. Serving young people is his lifelong passion and through the fraternity he continues to inspire him in new ways to impact that masses in need. Paynter also has three children currently all whom are current college athletes.
Lael Pierce - Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc.
Lael Pierce was raised in Yonkers, NY, a suburb just outside of New York City. She attended Utica College where she received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Management in December 2011. Throughout her undergraduate years, she was actively involved in the Student Senate, Black Student Union and the Prestige Step Team. Her career in higher education began right here at UC in the Admissions Office, where she was responsible for the recruitment of New York City students. She continued on as an Academic Coach, Student Services Director, and Access Advisor for various institutions, leading students beyond their personal and academic challenges, and into success. Currently she serves as a Program Coordinator in the Office of Fraternity & Sorority Affairs at Syracuse University.
Lael is a proud member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. She is the President of the Kappa Xi Zeta Chapter in Syracuse, NY and serves as the Secretary for Zeta NYS Executive Board. She aims to instill in others the historical and educational significance of Greek organizations and encourage members to leave a positive, impactful legacy.
Rev. Dr. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison - Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.
Rev. Dr. Ann Marie Bentsi-Addison, UC class of ‘88 became a member of Sigma Gamma Rho, Summer 1987, Theta Tau Chapter, Syracuse University. She is also an RN, CNS, CNM, MSN, M. Div, D. Min and Pastor: Union African Methodist Episcopal church in Warwick, NY, Assistant Director Women's Health. Practicing midwife. Called to the mind, body and spirit service of women. Truly "with women" throughout their reproductive journey.
Geovanny Cuevas - Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc.
Geovanny Cuevas '05 became a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc in the Spring of 2002. A political science major, he currently works in the financial services industry and resides in New York City.
Dr. Tracy L.F. Worley - Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Dr. Tracy L.F. Worley, PMP, is a scholar and educator, writer, researcher, project manager, and independent motion picture producer. She was initiated in 1985 and is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Over the last 35 years, she has held numerous elected and appointed positions at the local, regional, and national levels. Dr. Worley most recently spent 6 years as a member of the National Document Review and Management Committee and she continues to serve as a committee chair for the Washington DC Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta.
Dr. Worley teaches composition and research in the University System of Maryland and project management for DeVry University. Dr. Worley graduated from Utica College in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. She has Masters Certificates in Project and Program Management and degrees from Howard University (MFA), and the University of Phoenix (DM).
Qualena Odom-Royes - Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
EventEssentials’ Principal Event Planner and owner is Qualena Odom-Royes, MBA, CSEP, CMP, CDMP. Mrs. Odom-Royes has more than 25 years of experience in strategic event and meeting planning. Accredited from The University of Georgia in Conference Planning and Meeting Management, she also holds the Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP), Certified Meeting Professional (CMP) designations and recently earned the Virtual and Live Event Meeting Manager and Pandemic Onsite Protocol certifications.
Recognizing her talent for detailed organization and the need for a company that could plan meetings and events from start to finish with an emphasis on return on investment, Mrs. Odom-Royes opened EventEssentials twenty years ago. Since that time, the award-winning company has provided conference planning and meeting management services to organizations in a variety of industries. EventEssentials’ past and current clients include AT&T, BronzeLens Film Festival, Cox Communications, The Coca-Cola Company, Georgia Supplier Minority Development Council (GMSDC), Piedmont Hospital, Manheim, Scholastic, The King Center, T-Mobile and Taste of Atlanta.
EventEssentials is a certified minority business enterprise by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and was named the 2011 & 2020 Class 1 Supplier of the Year for GMSDC as well as earned the 2012 GMSDC Eagle Award recognizing their extensive partnerships with other minority business enterprises. In 2017 Mrs. Odom-Royes was recognized and honored by Senior Planners Independent Network (SPIN) as one of the top 40 over 40 Meeting Professionals in the US. Most recently, Mrs. Odom-Royes was celebrated as an “event industry game-changer by BizBash when they named her one of the top 500 People In Events. This inaugural list of event professionals from the United States and Canada includes people who lead the largest trade and consumer shows, orchestrate global brand campaigns, and plan high-visibility cultural events that have everyone talking on social media.
Mrs. Odom-Royes was initiated into the Iota Rho Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. in Spring 1992. She is a Life Member with more than 28 years serving in leadership roles in three chapters, two states and three regions. Mrs. Odom-Royes has served on the Boule Steering Committee for the largest Boule to date in 2016. Currently she is the Vice President and Program Chairman for the Lambda Epsilon Omega Chapter in the Significant South Atlantic Region where she was just awarded Soror of the Year, Officer of the Year and Spirit of AKA-LEO in December 2020.
Follow Mrs. Odom-Royes on Instagram @profQ_eventessentials.
The School of Health Professions and Education, with sponsorship funded from the Harold T. Clark Jr. Professorship Award, and in collaboration with the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Student Transitions Presents:
Racism and Discrimination in the Healthcare Industry
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 at 4 p.m. (EST)
Dr. Nche Zama will speak via Zoom about Racism and Discrimination in the Healthcare Industry, sharing some of his own experiences with discrimination and then discuss these challenges in a Q&A session with the audience.
Register in advance for this virtual event:
After registering, look for confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Dr. Nche Zama, MD, PhD
Dr. Nche Zama, MD, PhD is the Director of Cardiovascular and Thoracic surgery at Arnot Health in Elmira, NY. He is certified by the American Board of Thoracic Surgery and the American Board of Surgery. He attended medical school at the University of Cincinnati School of Medicine and his initial residency was at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in general surgery. He earned a Fellowship in cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at Harvard Medical School. He has a “passion for human service” and he is active on several boards, including the Good Shepherd Foundation.
Ellen Smith, PhD, MPH, RN - Assistant Professor of Nursing
Ellen Smith has been teaching with the Utica College Department of Nursing since 2006. Her research involves student success and community health topics, including the impact of COVID-19 and nursing workforce diversity.
Doreen Rogers, DNS, RN, CNE - Assistant Professor of Nursing
Doreen Rogers has been teaching with the Utica College Department of Nursing since 2018 and Director of the MS Nursing programs since 2019. Her research involves factors contributing to student success at various levels of nursing education and nurse retention in professional practice.
The Professor Harry F. and Mary Ruth Jackson Lunch Hour Series will present a special virtual program celebrating Black History Month, featuring Gregory Sheppard, bass baritone; Rosee Head, violin; the "Doc” Woods Quartet; and Sar-Shalom Strong, piano.
The virtual performance will take place at 1 p.m. on February 17.
- Video will be shared on Utica College's YouTube Channel at performance time.
- Audio will be broadcast on WPNR
- For more information about the performers, visit the Lunch Hour Series web site.
Films are part of the Spring Film Series, screening at 7 p.m. on their respective dates in Macfarlane auditorium.
February 4, 2021
Between the World and Me (2020, USA, dir. Kamilah Forbes, 85 mins.)
This powerful film brings to life Ta-Nehisi Coates' unflinching truth about being Black in America through a mixture of moving readings from the companion text, documentary video from the performers’ lives, archival footage, and animation.
From February 3-5, the film will be available to stream for FREE on up to 500 devices using your Utica College ID and password at the following link:
February 11, 2021
America Street (2020, USA, dir. Idrissou Mora-Kpai, 74 mins.)
Against the backdrop of racist violence in Charleston, South Carolina, the experiences, memories, and dreams of a black corner store owner paint a poignant picture of the marginalization of African Americans in the once predominantly black city and the pervasiveness of white supremacy throughout the United States.
The Utica University Center for Historical Research, in conjunction with the departments of history and political science, launches a series of talks titled “This is Not Who We Are,” Or Is it?: Democracy, Insurrection, and the Myth of American Exceptionalism.”
Throughout the months of January and February, eight speakers will present on a variety of themes—historical, political, and legal—in an effort to explain and locate the January 6 insurrection within its greater context. On that day in Washington, D.C., the United States Capitol was stormed in a riot against the 117th Congress Congress by supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump in an attempt to overturn his defeat in the 2020 presidential election. The violent day left five people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.
All talks begin at 7 p.m. and are streamed live on Zoom and on the Utica University Center for Historical Research Facebook page,
Following the individual presentations all presenters will gather for a virtual roundtable.
- January 19: “My Protest is Not Your Insurrection: The Ethics of Opposition” - Robert Halliday, Professor of Philosophy, Utica University
- January 21: “(White) American Democracy: The Challenges of Democratic Transitions with Undemocratic Institutions” - Daniel Tagliarina, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Utica University
- January 27: "Race and Reform in the Early Progressive Era: How the South's Lost Cause Triumphed in the Urban North" - Clem Harris, Assistant Professor of History, Utica University
- January 28: “Creating the Myth of "The November Criminals": Propaganda, Nazism, and the Lessons of the Beer Hall Putsch from 1923 to the Present” - Peter DeSimone, Associate Professor of History, Utica University
- February 2: “Domestic Terrorism vs Protest: What's Illegal, What Does the Government Prosecute, and What Could Change in the Future" - Eric Halliday and Rachael Hanna, Harvard University School of Law
- February 4: "1863 and the "Very special" mobs of Early America" - Sherri Cash, Associate Professor of History, Utica University
- February 11: "The Impact of the Capitol Insurrection on the Modern Presidency & U.S. Elections" - Luke Perry, Professor of Political Science, Utica University
- February 17: Concluding Roundtable
In observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday Celebration, members of the Mohawk Valley community are joining efforts to offer a 2021 MLK Jr. Oratory Contest. Members of Utica College (including the Division of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Students Transitions), Mohawk Valley Community College, Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute, Councilperson Delvin Moody’s Office, and the Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated are sponsoring the competition to honor the legendary leader, his message, and his non-violence movement.
The theme for your original speech: If Dr. King Were Alive Today, What Would His Dream Be?
From the main collection of participants, NINE finalists will be selected (three in each category) to recite and re-record a final video for a virtual showing and panel discussion for an “event reveal” including your thoughts behind and execution of your competition submission. During the three programs on a Facebook “live” event the public will be encouraged to participate and to vote on the winner for each category.
**Please Note: You will need to have a Google Account (which is free to create) in order to see the form and upload the submission file. If you are having issues with the form, please email the Utica College D, E, & I Division at: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Middle Schools (grades 6 – 8) (3-5 Minute Speech Length)
- High Schools (grades 9 –12) (5-7 Minute Speech Length)
- Colleges/Community members (7-10 Minute Speech Length)
- There will be one winner in each category and each winner will receive $500.
Contest Rules and Guidelines
Contest Launch/Kick-off is Friday, January 15, 2021 (via press-release). The judges’ panel begins voting on submissions on February 4, 2021.
Initial original speech submissions must be received by 4:00 p.m. (EST) on February 4, 2021 (link or email the speech).
Nine finalists will be selected (3 in each category). Selected finalists need to re-record a final video version for the virtual showings of their original speech (between February 8-15, 2021). Details will be provided to the finalists, and for those under 18 years of age a parent or guardian must be present during the re-recordings.
Programs based the winning submissions (including the speakers, community panelists, a discussion along with public viewing of the finalists for each category) will be held on Thursday, February 18, Tuesday, February 23, and Thursday, February 25, 2021. These three programs will be via a Utica College Facebook “live” event where the public will be encouraged to participate and to vote on the winner for each category.
For more information go to: http://utica.edu/blackheritage
Please note: The intention behind the contest is for contestants to have a positive, and enjoyable academic speaking challenge that teaches important leadership qualities, as well as the ability to think and speak clearly on relevant issues of the day.
Announcement of contest winners is final. The judges’ panel will consist of four distinguished members Utica Community at large. More specifically, representatives from Education, Business, Middle Schools, High Schools, and Colleges/Community members.
Contest Judging Criteria
|Intellectual Quality of Content||The issue is addressed with creative solutions, insights and a fresh perspective||30|
|Logic Flow||The arguments made in the opening are supported with related facts, ideas, examples, and the conclusions drawn are based upon these supported arguments.||30|
|Vocalization||Speaking volume varies to enhance emotional quality. Full pitch and variations in speaking rate adds to the impact of the speech.||15|
|Non-Verbal Communication||Eye Contact with varying sections of the audience. Posture, facial expressions, & hand movement are aligned with content and add value to presentation.||10|
|Grammar & Diction||Structure of sentences and choice of vocabulary allows for issues to be identified precisely and arguments to be explained concisely.||10|
|Audience Engagement & Response||Delivery of speech peeks audience attention and interests. Reaction of audience following the completion of the speech.||5|
|Total Score and Overview Commitment||100|
If you are having technical issues submitting your work
If you are having issues with the form, please email the Utica College D, E, & I Division at: email@example.com
Making Our Contest More Accessible
In order to be more inclusive and offer resources for our contestants or audience members, we have asked for a complete written narrative of the submission along with the video. Moreover, we will have sign language interpreters on the three Utica College Facebook “live” events. In case you might have other needs, feel free to reach out to the Utica College D, E, & I Division at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**Please Note: You will need to have a Google Account (which is free to create) in order to see the form and upload the submission file. If you are having issues with the form, please email the Utica College D, E, & I Division at: email@example.com
Interactive Programming during Black Heritage Month
Sometimes the little things do mean a lot and can make a difference.
In honor of Black Heritage month, key bulletin boards around campus have been covered with Kente cloth inspired fabrics.
As the semester progresses the boards will be covered with informational posters, invite flyers, etc. but underneath you will still see the bright shades of yellow, red, blue, and green. Legend has it that a spider spinning a complex web inspired the earliest Kente techniques and designs that were used to dress kings and courts and used for special occasions.
More recently, the cloth has been used to symbolize solidarity with African Heritage and many college graduates wear a Kente cloth stole as a symbol of Black sovereignty and pride during commencement. Feel free to take a selfie in front of the Kenth cloth covered bulletin boards and share with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leading with Purpose, A Black Heritage Month display in the Gannett Library - presented by the Center for Career and Professional Development.
Success stories of modern history makers. The display will feature prominent African American CEOs, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders. Biographies will include their professional profiles and personal details of their lives and achievements with embedded QR codes to link viewers to more information.
Additionally, links to resources about The Center for Career and Professional Development will be made available to connect students with the office so they may work with the Center to begin their own success stories.
Black Heritage Words of Inspiration – Positively Inspiring quotes from Black History are being contributed by members of the UC community (students, staff, faculty, and alumni) and will be displayed both inside and outside of campus offices.
Wish to contribute your favorite Afro-Ancestry inspiring quote? Email the quote along with the author to email@example.com. Then we can have the poster board printed off with your favorite quote, and provide it to a campus office(s) to display and inspire others.
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