Forum on Black Affairs holds first eastern regional meeting at Berks

In an effort to reach out to Penn State campuses and expand their membership, the Forum on Black Affairs (FOBA) held its first eastern regional meeting at Penn State Berks on Wednesday, April 1, 2015. Nine Penn State campuses were represented at the meeting, which dealt with issues of diversity related to Penn State faculty and staff.

Dr. Iyun Osagie, FOBA President, gave the opening remarks. She explained that this year the Forum on Black Affairs is celebrating its fortieth anniversary. ?Part of our strategy for continued growth is to be more inclusive and to reach out to faculty and staff of color at other campuses to let them know that we are supportive of them as they endeavor to succeed at their jobs.?

As part of this strategy, FOBA has begun holding regional meetings at Penn State campuses; they held a regional meeting for the western campuses at Penn State Greater Allegheny in the fall semester of 2014.

Following the opening remarks, Penn State Berks student Diamon Williams led the group in the song, ?Lift Every Voice and Sing.? She was followed by Penn State Berks Chancellor R. Keith Hillkirk, who welcomed the group to the college and Dr. Mohamad Ansari, University Faculty Senate Chair-elect and Associate Professor of Mathematics at Penn State Berks, who spoke on "Diversity and Leadership."

Dr. Keith Gilyard, Penn State Senior Faculty Mentor, shared his role and function and the support that the Office of the Vice Provost for Educational Equity can provide to the Penn State campuses. Dr. Wanda Knight, FOBA President-elect, concluded by discussing the 2013 FOBA Status Report on Black faculty and staff at Penn State.

After the official program, the group heard about diversity issues from the chancellors who attended, including Dr. Karen Sandler, Abington; Dr. R. Keith Hillkirk, Berks; Dr. Kristin Woolever, Brandywine; Dr. James Nemes (interim chancellor), Great Valley; Dr. Mukund Kulkarni, Harrisburg; Dr. Gary Lawler, Hazleton; and Dr. Francis Achampong, Mont Alto.

In addition, there were representatives from the Penn State Schuylkill and Wilkes Barre campuses in attendance, along with approximately 25 faculty and staff members from University Park campus, Dr. Mildred Mickle of Penn State Greater Allegheny, the coordinator for the FOBA western region campus meeting, and Elizabeth A. Goreham, Mayor of State College.

Prior to the official meeting, the FOBA group from University Park had an opportunity to visit the Central Pennsylvania African American Museum in Reading. The event at Penn State Berks was organized by Joe Webb, Director of Student Support Services, and Dr. Kesha Morant Williams, Assistant Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences.

The mission of FOBA is to partner with the University to encourage racial diversity, and specifically to create a climate conducive for Black faculty and staff to thrive on each of the Penn State campuses. FOBA is open to all members of the Penn State community who wish to support black aspirations at Penn State.

"We are strong advocates of Martin Luther King's theory of love and inclusiveness,? summaries Osagie. ?Racial diversity should be the prerogative of all demographics because positive outcomes and social capital are beneficial for growth, prosperity, and equity."

For more information about FOBA, visit