Diversity Walk to be Dedicated to Former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman on April 22:
Intentional Citizen Discussions to Follow about Diversity, Inclusion & Equity
West Chester University will pay tribute to the impactful community work and inclusive teaching of former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman by dedicating a popular campus corridor in his honor — Diversity Walk. A focal point for WCU students as they travel to classes on foot, Diversity Walk will be formally dedicated to the well-known Chester County leader on Saturday, April 22, at 9 a.m. by WCU President Chris Fiorentino and members of the University community. Among the many in attendance for the special honor will be former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman and numerous citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The outdoor Diversity Walk Dedication ceremony will take place on the plaza located between the east entrance of The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons (SECC) and the side entrance of Lawrence Hall. Parking will be available at the Student Recreation Center Parking Garage, 275 North Campus Drive in West Chester.
At a time when race and ethnic relations are being tested across the globe, the First Annual Community Gathering for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity will immediately follow the dedication from 9:30 a.m. – 12:45 p.m. in the SECC, located on campus at 155 University Avenue. The First Annual Community Gathering will draw citizens from throughout the region to engage in meaningful conversations about race and ethnic relations today; the need for healing, restoration and respect; ways to defy hatred and respond to negative social media; and other critical topics. Based on geographical areas of Chester County, intentional citizen discussion groups will explore new approaches to develop increased respect and understanding for all in our greater community. The groups will report-out on actionable outcomes following their conversations.
“Former Senator Dinniman’s relentless work to unite all people in our community is to be applauded,” said West Chester University President Chris Fiorentino. “By establishing an ongoing forum to discuss new approaches to societal challenges, he has opened another door to engage our region in a series of dialogues designed to generate respect, increased understanding and a much-needed resolution.”
A highlight of the day will be a dynamic discussion led by a team that is on a mission to show that we are all part of one humanity. Professor Emerita Anita Foeman and Professor Bessie Lawton, both from WCU’s Department of Communication Studies, are transforming communities by uniting people through what may be best described as genetic epiphanies. As the lead researcher of the DNA Discussion Project, Dr. Foeman and Dr. Lawton, as co-investigator of the DNA Discussion Project, have encouraged thousands of people to engage in genetic testing followed by reveal-results and post-dialogues that challenge deeply entrenched stereotypes. The DNA Discussion Project is prompting very honest conversations about race and building connections among people who never thought that they were “different.”
Also conveying the importance about shared commonalities will be an acclaimed member of the University’s Department of History, Professor Emeritus Charles Hardy, III. In his presentation, Dr. Hardy, an expert in digital storytelling, will detail how historical research can help make sense of one another’s life experiences. By drawing on examples from the Great Migration to Philadelphia and others, participants will be shown the lessons that can be learned from our grandparents.
Dr. Clifford DeBaptiste is the honorary chair of the First Annual Community Gathering for Diversity, Inclusion and Equity. Dr. DeBaptiste, who provided an endowment to focus on the life and legacy of Frederick Douglass through the Frederick Douglass Institute at WCU, inspired former Senator Dinniman to launch the gathering and its supporting endowment.
“As we approach the 250th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, it is time to assess and discuss where we are as a society,” said former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman. “The dynamics of intercultural communication lead us to a full appreciation of our common humanity. The purpose of this Gathering can be best summed by the words spoken by the chief historian of the Museum of the American Revolution, Philip Mead, who said, ‘Each generation must look at itself and ask are we making progress? The question is what can we do differently this time?’”
More About The Together Fund
The First Annual Community Gathering is brought to Chester County by the Dinniman Together Fund: Diversity Inclusion & Equity Endowment at West Chester University (WCU). The focus of the fund is to promote diversity and equity through a renewed emphasis on our common humanity. More than a century following the final public speech of Frederick Douglass on the campus of West Chester State Normal School on February 1, 1895, the Dinniman Together Fund continues the conversation by providing resources to support an annual gathering where the research and teaching knowledge of WCU faculty (past and present) may be shared with the greater Chester County community.
The Together Fund is, in part, designed to build on Dr. DeBaptiste’s generosity by taking the legacy of Douglass from the campus into the greater community. Former State Senator Andrew E. Dinniman raised more than $100,000 to create the Dinniman Together Fund: Diversity Inclusion & Equity Endowment at West Chester University.