Using recent acts of displaying and supporting hate toward groups in our community as our impetus, this panel addresses the ways various community and university stakeholders have responded to hate literature on the Kutztown University campus. The panel features representatives from the borough of Kutztown, the business community, the Kutztown Area School District and Kutztown University who are in positions to respond to events as they occur and develop proactive strategies to create a climate that is inconducive to acts of hate and bias. The grassroots Peace.Love.Kutztown community initiative has become a unifying force in these efforts that may lead to a more inclusive community and stronger town-gown relations. The panelists are prepared to share their perspectives and contributions to improve their efforts and share their knowledge with other communities within the PaSSHE system and beyond.
Marissa Vernoia, WCU Student Volunteer
Dr. Jennifer R. Schlegel, Associate Professor of Anthropology and the past University Senate President at Kutztown University
Dr. Schlegel earned a Ph.D. in linguistic anthropology from UCLA. While finishing her degree, local events inspired Jen to become an anti-hate activist, chairing and participating in multiple volunteer and municipal groups. As a result, Jen developed a popular course, Hate Across Cultures and has presented her work nationally and internationally. She hopes the need for such work ends soon.
Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, President of Kutztown University
Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson is the 12th president of Kutztown University. Since his arrival in 2015, Hawkinson has established 53 initiatives for KU, focusing on academic excellence, enrollment management and student success. Hawkinson holds a doctorate in speech communication/performance studies from Southern Illinois University and was a Fulbright Scholar, teaching American studies at the University of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, and conducting research in African folklore and oral tradition.
Mr. Nykolai Blichar, Graduate Student at Kutztown University
Mr. Blichar is a graduate student in the Student Affairs program at Kutztown University and graduate assistant for the GLBTQ Resource Center and the Women's Center. Nykolai fights to make KU an inclusive place for LGBT students in particular, advocating for initiatives including gender neutral bathrooms, preferred name, and gender inclusive housing. Nationally, Nykolai has served on the National Student Advisory Committee of the "It's On Us" campaign.
Ms. Caecilia Holt, School Director for Kutztown Area School District
Caecilia Holt owns a small retail business in Kutztown, PA and has lived and worked in the community surrounding KU for more than 25 years. To help strengthen all facets of the community Caeclilia dedicates herself to volunteer organizations including Kutztown Thriving, Peace. Love. Kutztown., and the Christmas In Kutztown Committee. She is in her second term as School Director for the Kutztown Area School District and serves on the district's Odyssey of the Mind Board.
Ms. Vicki L. Meloney, Associate Professor of Graphic Design at Kutztown University
Vicki L. Meloney is an award winning graphic designer and received her MFA from Temple University. Vicki works with her colleagues in the Communication Design Department to educate budding designers, emphasizing social justice and design for the greater good. When hate literature found its way to Kutztown, she and her colleagues didn't get mad they got creative and organized several Hate the Hate community workshops. These workshops bring together participants from the college and surrounding community to create images and artwork that promote tolerance, peace and non-partisan anti-hate messages.
Ms. Beth Patten, Social Studies teacher at Kutztown Area Middle School
Ms. Patten has her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction, and B.A. in History and Communication Studies from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. She participates in the University of Pennsylvania's Global Summer Institute and the Hindu American Teacher Advisory Council. She serves as a facilitator in Princeton's Not In Our Town, an inter-faith and interracial group united for racial justice. She is founding member of peace.love.kutztown.
Mr. Jerry Schearer, Associate Dean of Inclusion and Outreach at Kutztown University
Mr. Shearer earned his MA in Education Administration from West Virginia University. At KU, Jerry supervises the directors of the GLBTQ Resource Center, Women's Center, Multicultural Center, and the Frederick Douglass Institute. Jerry is the current president of Kutztown Community Partnership (KCP), a non-profit dedicated to town-gown relationships, bettering the business climate of Kutztown, and working toward partnerships and events that make Kutztown a great place to visit and live.