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Ursinus Celebrates Official IIE Opening

The college community gathered to launch the Institute for Inclusion and Equity in Lower Wismer on Monday, Jan. 22.

The IIE coordinates dialogue, programming and activities around issues of equity, diversity and social justice. Formerly located in Unity House and known as the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the IIE is a key component of Ursinus’s commitment to fostering inclusive conversations while continuing to create meaningful programming for all students, faculty and staff. 

“I challenge all of us to be leaders, to seek strength in one another and be committed to learning from one another because in many respects, it’s our differences that provide so much strength and are the building blocks of our community,” Ursinus President Brock Blomberg said.

The launch event concluded with the first CIE common event of the spring semester in the Lenfest Theater in the Kaleidoscope Performing Arts Center. An ensemble of four professional, acclaimed Philadelphia-area actors delivered selections from great writings and speeches from American history including the Declaration of Independence; Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s Declaration of Sentiments; Frederick Douglass’s What to the Slave is the Fourth of July; Sojourner Truth’s Ain’t I a Woman?; and Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream; and recent speeches from Oprah Winfrey, among others.

The event was a culmination of Ursinus’s inaugural MLK Week, which began on Jan. 15 with a day of service and continued with a series of events designed for discussion and reflection; “lightning talks” by faculty members and students focused on research related to issues of diversity; a screening of the film Selma; and musical performances.

During the week, the Ursinus community was also invited to brainstorm ideas for IIE programming at Ursinus and used the new space to read excerpts from the writings and speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. and James Baldwin, among others.

“I’m over the moon right now,” said Terrence Williams, presidential adviser for inclusion and equity and assistant dean of students. “This has been a labor of love for so many talented people on our campus who had a hand in creating a warm and welcoming and inviting space that will see students, faculty and staff come together as a community to continue the great work they’ve already been doing.” –By Ed Moorhouse