Black Conference on Higher Education to Meet Downtown

Issue Date: 
February 11, 2008

Universities from across the state will be getting “Back to the Basics,” the theme for the Pennsylvania Black Conference on Higher Education’s (PBCOHE) 38th annual conference to be held from Feb. 27 through March 1 at the Marriott City Center, Downtown.

The four-day conference will feature various luminaries, including Esther Bush, president and chief executive officer of the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh, who will be the guest speaker at the opening plenary session. Journalist, poet, and activist Kevin Powell will give the luncheon lecture Feb. 28, and Antoine M. Garibaldi, president of Gannon University, will deliver the keynote address at the banquet Feb. 29.

Conference highlights include educational exhibits from participating schools, a career fair, workshops, a presidential forum, a service learning project, and several social events.

Among the workshops, to be held Feb. 28 and 29, are “Developing Alliances Through Community Partnerships,” “Eliminating Financial Barriers to College Access and Retention: Why Johnny Has No Money,” “Academic Success for Students in Courses Using Hip-Hop Content,” “Creating Change through Multicultural Affairs Offices: Working Smarter not Harder,” and “Back to the Basics–Relearning and Reteaching Ourselves.”

The universities involved in the exhibition, which focuses on graduate enrollment, are Carlow University, California University of Pennsylvania, Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, ITT Technical Institute, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, Point Park University, Robert Morris University, Saint Vincent College, and Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.

The Feb. 29 afternoon Presidential Forum, moderated by Joseph P. Grunenwald, president of Clarion University of Pennsylvania, will address the “Back to the Basics” theme. Forum panelists are Tony Atwater, Indiana University of Pennsylvania president; Javier Cevallos, Kutztown University president; Tori Haring-Smith, Washington and Jefferson College president; Mary E. Hines, Carlow University president; and Barbara A. Simmons, assistant to the president for internal relations and social equity at Cheyney University.

Conference attendees also will have the opportunity to join the service learning project the morning of Feb. 29. Volunteers will read to children at several schools throughout the city, and PBCOHE will donate boxes of books to those schools.

PBCOHE was founded in 1970, when the Honorable K. Leroy Irvis, then minority leader of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s House of Representatives, convened a conference of African American college officials and other political leaders and professionals to help form a master plan for higher education in Pennsylvania.

PBCOHE’s role was to ensure equal education for African Americans and other underrepresented groups in the Commonwealth. Irvis became Speaker of the House in 1976, the first Black speaker of a state house in post-Reconstruction America.