PACE kickstarts new lecture series: Democracy Across the Disciplines

By: Abby Bivens

Staff Writer

@abigaillorene

“This is what democracy looks like?!”

This is the question Dr. Sarah Surak posed to the crowd of Salisbury University students, faculty and members of the surrounding community gathered in a Fulton Hall auditorium Monday evening.

Dr. Surak is an assistant professor of both Political Science and Environmental Studies, as well as the Co-Director of the Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE).  PACE developed the weekly lecture circuit, which was also offered as a one credit course to students.

Dr. Surak hosted a very energetic lecture and involved the audience on numerous occasions.

She asked many thought-provoking questions, such as  “what does it mean to participate in democracy?”, “why do we submit to the government’s authority?” and “why do we organize ourselves in such a way?”.

During the lecture, she traced the origins of Western democracy back to the ancient Greeks and explained how the modern word “idiot”, comes from the Greek term “idiotes”, meaning one who did not exercise their right to participate in the public sphere.

One of the topics that Dr. Surak explored was the decline of democracy.

According to The Economist, the United States has fallen from a “full democracy”, to “flawed democracy” since 2015.  This can be attributed to a growing distrust of the government and decreased voting turnout in the past few decades.

“This is the second iteration of a PACE lecture circuit and IDIS course” PACE Graduate Research Assistant Michael Webber said.

The first series, taking place in the Fall of 2016, was on the topic of race and identity.

Webber is optimistic for the future of this program and said that PACE will continue to offer these lecture circuits and IDIS courses on controversial social topics each fall.

One of the faces in the audience Monday night was Dr. Maarten Pereboom, Dean of the Fulton School of Liberal Arts and advocate for democratic participation.

Dr. Pereboom encouraged SU students to take advantage of their time at the university.  For students looking to become active democratic citizens to hone their viewpoints, and to ask important questions to faculty.

“This is a new stage in many student’s adult lives and for some may be the first time that they are able to vote,” Dr. Pereboom said.

“Democracy Across the Disciplines” meets Monday evenings at 7 p.m. in Fulton Hall, Room 111.

Dr. Erick Rittinger, Political Science assistant professor, will be giving a lecture entitled “When Democracy Doesn’t Work”.  All lectures in this series are open to all SU students as well as the general public, with the next meeting set for Sept. 18.

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SU takes first big stride to carbon neutrality

By:  Chase Gorski

News Editor

@cgorski12

 Just ten years after Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach signed the Presidents’ Climate Commitment, Salisbury University has taken a key step towards being carbon neutral.

The Presidents’ Climate Commitment is a promise that almost 700 presidents have signed, pledging to join the fight against global warming.  Once President Dudley-Eshbach signed in 2007, the university created the Climate Action Plan which outlined the ways that the university would reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by the year 2050.

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On August 22, the university announced the completion of a new solar parking canopy covering Parking Lot H, moving SU one step closer towards its objective.

The solar panels will collect energy from the sun, in turn generating electricity for campus buildings.  Along with collecting solar energy, the parking canopy also includes five electric vehicle charging stations.

According to Wayne Shelton, the Director of Campus Sustainability and Environmental Safety at Salisbury University, the canopy will produce around 765,000 kilowatt hours yearly.

As for a reference point, that amount of energy is enough to power two percent of the electricity consumption of the campus.  This is enough to completely power three campus residence halls: Manokin, Pocomoke and Wicomico.

Shelton has been cited as one of the key figures in pushing this project through to fruition.

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“All credit should go to [Wayne], he has been pushing for this for years,” Director of the Environmental Studies Department Dr. Michael Lewis said.  “He has worked through all of the complicated hurdles of making it happen and overseeing the project.”

The importance of this project goes far beyond collecting solar energy for dorm halls, or charging hybrid cars.  The solar canopy represents the university taking an active role in protecting the environment, and shows that the school is working towards the goal of zero carbon emissions.

“The performance is going to help, the fact that it’s going to produce so much electricity for the area is going to go a long way to helping future projects,” Shelton said.  “People will say ‘let’s do more [projects] like this.”

While no specific projects are on the horizon, the university and specifically the Department of Sustainability is already bouncing around ideas for the future.  According to Shelton, the university is ahead of schedule in terms of their 2050 deadline, and approximately 50 percent of the electricity on-campus comes from renewable sources.

President Dudley-Eshbach was thrilled with the progress the university has made thus far, and sees the solar canopy as a great success.

“This installation is a win-win-win,” President Dudley-Eshbach said.  “Using solar energy helps reduce SU’s carbon footprint, the panels provide shade and protection for vehicles and thanks to our partnership with Standard Solar the canopy was built at no cost to the state or university.”

Dudley-Eshbach views this project as a continuation of Salisbury University’s long-standing dedication to sustainability.  This is not the first time SU has shown its desire to help the environment with solar projects, with recycling campaigns and removing trays from the dining hall landing them on The Princeton Review’s list of ‘Green Colleges’ for multiple years including 2016.

Aside from the environmental benefits of the installation, there are also numerous educational opportunities that made this project a success for all parties.  The educational function of the solar canopy is one of the aspects that greatly interests Dr. Lewis and his students.

In the Teacher Education and Technology Center (TETC) there is a monitor on the first floor that shuffles through different screens outlining the process of converting sunlight to usable energy as well as live energy generation data.

“We teach a course called ‘Introduction to Sustainability’ and one of the things we will talk about in that class is energy,” Dr. Lewis said.  “Having a discussion on what is going on with the solar energy as well as discussing how energy generation is tied to larger questions of sustainability.”

Students will also be able to visit the sustainability page on Salisbury University’s website to see a graphic with the updated electricity production data.

As for the educational value outside of the classroom, the completion of this project further demonstrates that SU is committed to leading by example.  With climate change taking the national stage in the recent months, Shelton believes it is important for the university to take a stand for the environment.

“It is critical that we model and demonstrate all of these things that we are already teaching in our classrooms, as an educational facility it is our duty to be in the forefront,” Shelton said.  “It is important for the population in the future to have hands-on, visual and educational experiences with ‘here is how we become more sustainable, here is how we become greener and here is how we protect our environment.’”

While many in the media spotlight question climate change, and the importance of keeping the environment clean, Salisbury University has chosen a side.  Even though these projects are not always economically advantageous, there are reasons to pursue carbon neutrality.

“Being green isn’t less expensive in all respects, in some it can be but it can also be more expensive,” Shelton said.  “But it’s the right thing to do.”

Brown and Church Carillon Official Completes Guerrieri Academic Commons

By: Chase Gorski

News Editor

@cgorski12

While many students have taken advantage of the Academic Commons (GAC) since it opened in 2016, few were aware that the building was still awaiting its final touch.

On September 6 that final touch was christened with a dedicatory concert.

This last piece was a 14-ton carillon instrument made up of 48 bells placed in the bell tower of the GAC, which will take over as the new hourly toll that faculty, staff and students will be able to hear on campus throughout the day.

The carillon, which has great historical significance as the first traditional carillon on the Eastern Shore, was made possible by a $2.4 million donation from the well-known entrepreneur William Church.  Church made the donation in memory of his late partner, Samuel Brown, who passed away in 2013.

Brown and Church were business partners as well, co-founding Brown & Church Ltd., a neckwear manufacturing company together.  But they were also strong supporters of the Sea Gulls.

Both Church and Brown had contributed significant donations to Salisbury University in the past, and Church serves on the board of directors for SU Foundation, Inc.

According to the Executive Director of the SU Foundation, Jason Curtin, it was their love of music that drove Church to make the donation in honor of Brown.

“One thing that was a constant in their life was music. . .throughout the years they were always big fans of anything that we did musically on campus,” Curtin said.  “[President Dudley-Eshbach] talked with him about this project and it just came to fruition through that.”

SU Foundation Inc., is responsible for accepting private donations on behalf of the university, due to its ties with the state.

The two largest bells, which together weigh almost four tons, have both of their names inscribed in them.  Those bells were constructed separately by London’s Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the same location where the original Liberty Bell and Big Ben were made.

The last 46 bells were cast at Meeks, Watson & Co. in Georgetown, Ohio which is the largest carillon bell manufacturer in the United States.

The carillon bells add to the already dynamic structure on campus, in the bell tower which is visible from mostly anywhere at the university.  It is the tallest structure on campus and now has a greater representation as well both symbolizing for Church, the memories of his late partner, and for students a reminder of music.

“There are many things about our campus that set us apart. . .when you think of an instrument like this it almost has that ‘Ivy League’ feel,” Curtin said.  “It’s another unique element about our campus that sets us apart.”

Curtin believes that the atmosphere of campus is increased greatly with the carillon bells, specifically in the change from the automated bells that used to chime on the hour from Conway Hall, to real bells.

One aspect about this donation and past donations from Church and Brown that sets them apart, is their alma mater.

No, they were not Sea Gulls many years ago, though they are considered to be Sea Gulls now.  This makes the countless donations, namely this $2.4 million donation, that much more special for the SU community.

Dudley-Eshbach, University System of MD support DACA

BY SAMUEL STEVENS

Editor-in-Chief

@SamuelJ_Stevens

Salisbury University President Janet Dudley-Eshbach released a statement September 6 regarding the decision by President Donald Trump to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which allows children of undocumented immigrants to stay in the US legally.

SU’s president “strongly supported” the Association’s statements, and urged continued support for the beneficiaries of the program, and that it was in line with Salisbury’s core mission as a university.

Dudley-Eshbach’s message to the SU campus community included a statement from the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, of which SU is a member.

The Association stated it was “profoundly disappointed with, and strongly oppose, the administration’s decision.”

The statement also said that ending DACA is “as unnecessary as it is cruel.”

There was another show of support for undocumented immigrants on September 7, when chalk messages displaying pro-immigrant and diversity messages appeared around Conway Hall.

In addition to supporting “Dreamers” under DACA, SU provides assistance to undocumented students.

According to the admissions web site, “Salisbury University welcomes applications from undocumented students as part of its multicultural and inclusive academic environment.”

The admissions office also provides links and information for a number of scholarships available to students who have received delayed action status.

SU has shown a history of support for undocumented students.

In March 2015, Multicultural Student Services hosted a forum with “policy information, discussions, and students’ firsthand accounts of their experiences” of relevant Maryland and federal laws on their immigration status.

The statement from SU included a link to the letter of University System of Maryland Chancellor Robert L. Caret, who advocated for Congress to extend the program.

Caret stressed that “educating every qualified student, regardless of background,” as a core tenant of the USM’s overall goals.

He also wrote that Maryland, and the nation, should not shun potential productive members of the workforce.

The chancellor affirmed a commitment to inclusion for USM. “Marylanders participating in the DACA program are our neighbors, our students, and our friends…and enrich our state and our campuses immeasurably.”

Dreamers gain delayed action on their status for up to two years, with possibility for renewal.

In Maryland, they are eligible for in-state tuition after one year of having delayed status with other qualifications such as high school or community college attendance.

The state has had around twenty thousand deferred cases, either initial requests or renewals, according to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services report titled “Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” for Fiscal Year 2017.

A CBS News story reports that the Trump administration circulated talking points advising undocumented immigrants to self deport, despite the six month delay in ending the program.

 

Faculty Senate discusses Gen Ed Program reform

By ALEXIS GRAMATES

Staff Writer

faculty senate discusses gen ed reform graphic

A sophomore Salisbury University communications student sat in a chemistry class one day wondering “how is this useful to my major?”

Salisbury University’s Faculty Senate has discussed the possible reformation of general education classes on campus. This allows incoming students to become more successful in their college career.

The faculty senate is made up of the university’s staff that oversees the process of the general education reform to ensure it will become successful.

James King, co-chair of the steering committee, commented on the steps being taken towards this new idea.

“The reformation came about because a comment was made by the university president to the provost to look at the general education,” King said. “There have been changes to the curriculum in the past, but no change has had a purposeful insight.”

A survey was conducted and given to faculty, students and alumni.

They were asked to give their opinion on their general education at Salisbury. The results showed a 30 percent gap between the faculty standards being met and what the data actually showed was met.

Faculty Senate President Stephen Ford explained how all students could benefit from this reform.

“There is a desire to have a reform here because we want to take into consideration all of those transfers that we often see as not having those basic skills that you have in general education,” Ford said. “In essence, this whole effort is in need for the students.”

This platform for the reformation will ensure that students will have a clearer understanding of what is being taught to them.

It will also focus on every student’s learning outcomes as well as continue to meet the learning outcome requirements for general education.

The faculty senate is focusing on narrowing down the learning objectives to make the general education requirements more manageable. This will allow individuals to address other outcomes to integrate into the new model.

The model is a continuation of the curriculum but with new features—first-year experience and integrative experience. Regulations, codes and laws will continue to be followed throughout this model.

“We do not have a remedial class here at SU, so we do not have a class that shows how to cite properly or how to do the basic general education skills,” Ford said.

The first-year experience ensures that all incoming students take a workshop style class to refresh their comprehensive skills.

The integrative experience will focus on one theme the whole semester while students work on every subject matter revolving around that theme.

The first-year experience class model will allow the library staff to teach a one-credit course in four seven-week sessions per semester per librarian.

The faculty senate wants more students to come out and give opinions on what they can do to make sure the new curriculum is beneficial for incoming students.

Senior Carl Fogg offered some future suggestions for the reform.

“The only thing I would ask is to make general education less intrusive of your actual major. I feel it holds you back from learning the stuff you actually want to learn,” Fogg said. “This is why they give you the choice to pick what you want to learn anyway when you come to college.”

The faculty senate continues to discuss more details to revise within the general education classes to make sure every student is confident and successful.

“I think the revision will make students more successful because that will be one less thing to worry about coming into university,” Fogg said.

The committee will be holding a roundtable discussion for students to express their views on the reformation on May 3.

Habitat for Humanity: Attentive to community struggles

By STEPHANIE CHISLEY

Staff Writer

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Salisbury’s population of 33,000 citizens has an innumerable amount of people who are homeless and cannot afford a home due to their financial status.

Some of these people also have children with them during these hard times.

Habitat for Humanity of Wicomico County Program Director Shannon Thomas stated that Wicomico County has the lowest income based on United Way’s Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employment (ALICE) report.

“It’s kind of shocking to see how much low income we have around,” Thomas said. “That’s why we need Habitat for Humanity.”

Not only does Habitat for Humanity help families in need, but there is also an impact within the community as well.

Thomas stated that the crime statistic has decreased 49 percent since Habitat for Humanity started building homes on Church Street since 2006.

Some people in Salisbury are not able to afford their homes, which cause a high foreclosure rate. In other cases, some people just leave the house and it becomes abandoned.

Housing and Community Development Department Director Susan Phillips shared that she makes calls to Habitat for Humanity to see if there is a potential home that can be demoed so that the city can donate it to Habitat for Humanity.

Phillips also stated that there are about 8,000 rental homes in the city of Salisbury.

“I’ve seen them have a strong sense of pride when they own property,” Phillips said. “It’s very heartwarming.”

There is also a program, Housing First, for chronically homeless people who struggle with mental illness, addiction and other reasons that hinder them from finding housing where resources such as rehabilitation are provided.

Another issue is that many children within the Salisbury community lack the proper nutrition due to poverty.

Wicomico County NAACP Youth Council President Jermichael Mitchell stated that besides lack of nutrition, there is a concerning epidemic of the use and selling of heroin.

This is another issue for children. Mitchell shared that drug dealers are giving dope to juveniles because they will not get in too much trouble for it.

“A kid is going to do whatever they have to do to make $1,000,” Mitchell said. “They tend to not care about going to school when they can make money.”

In addition, some families within the community are severely affected by the levels of poverty to the point that they do not have access to transportation.

The lack of public transportation, excluding Short Transit, is limited, and there are even boundaries to the transit.

As a temporary solution, Wheelhouse head volunteer Jeff Dean stated that his company provides bicycles for homeless advocacy organizations and for parents that do not have economic needs to purchase bicycles.

“I think it’s vital,” Dean said. “We do not see a lot of solutions regarding affordable, dependable transpiration.”

Efforts in the community, like Dean’s, continue to further the awareness of drug abuse and homelessness while sharing Habitat for Humanity’s vision in order to make the city of Salisbury a safer place.

SU announces new urban and regional planning degree

By Sawyer Cornelius

Staff Writer

SU announces new urban and regional planning degree pic

Salisbury University geography and geosciences department announced the opening of a new bachelor’s degree program in the studies of urban and regional planning (URPL).

The multidisciplinary program fills the growing need for professionals willing to preserve society’s history, culture and resources through responsible planning and development.

Associate professor of the geography and geosciences department, Amal Ali, commented on the details of the new program.

“If you really want to make a difference in your local community, [URPL] is for you,” Ali said.

Whether it is helping communities overcome environmental hazards, gaining economic opportunity or improving the overall quality of life, planners are of great importance.

The new urban planning program provides much greater insurance in securing a career within the planning industry than the formerly offered planning and land use track granted.

“Now, with the offering of a full program with the current minor, the job market will respond greater to Salisbury University applicants than the replaced academic tracks,” Ali said.

Enrollees of URPL are also encouraged to minor in a related area, such as conflict analysis and dispute resolution, environmental studies, economics, geography, GIS, history or political science for a more conceptual understanding.

URPL incorporates real-world experience with an internship opportunity which uniquely spans a full academic year.

Students of the program will begin their personalized internships in the fall of their senior year.

Pupils will not only benefit from one-on-one training, but will also take part in contracted field work conducted by the Maryland Department of Planning.

“Working with the State during the field work period is a great outlook in the career of planning,” Ali said.

SU students have already responded to the new addition in geoscience choices with several already enrolled for the launch in Fall 2017.

Dean of the Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology Karen Olmstead, explained in a press release the shared vision between this program and the university’s mission statement.

“This new program supports the university’s mission of empowering students to be gainfully employed citizens in our interdependent world,” Olmstead said. “We hope some of them will affect positive change right here on the Eastern Shore.”

According to Ali, the planning and urban development sector is undersupplied for job placement post-graduation.

“Job-wise, it is an exceptional time to take up a career in planning the future,” Ali said. “Students who have graduated have found positions in architecture, engineering, consulting and sustainability firms, as well as the Maryland Department of Planning and other like county offices.”

The U.S. and Maryland Departments of Labor predict substantial increases in urban planning jobs in the next five to 10 years.

Senior Hunter Phillips hopes to become a local planner and is making the switch to the new program before graduation in December.

Phillips believes the new program and the internship with the Maryland Department of Planning’s Lower Eastern Shore Regional Office will help him “obtain a job straight out of college.”

For details concerning the new program’s perquisites, requirements and opportunities, visit http://www.salisbury.edu/geography.

Literacy program helps local community

BY SAWYER CORNELIUS

Staff Writer

The crisis of adult illiteracy in the greater Salisbury area now faces a new enemy.

The Project READ program, sponsored by the Wicomico County Public Libraries, aims to decrease the proportion of illiterate adults within the local Salisbury and surrounding communities.

Project READ is a free one-on-one literacy program that assists adults in becoming fluent in basic reading, writing, fundamental mathematics, health and finance.

Wynnette Curtis, coordinator of the libraries’ program, spoke regarding the intentions and goals of the Project READ initiative.

literacy program

Photo from salisbury.edu

“The adult literacy program is an innovation of one-on-one tutoring in areas of basic writing and math to computer-operation skills,” Curtis said. “[It] is more effective and tailored to individual learning styles as opposed to class-like settings.”

The current READ program, launched in September 2016, is the third iteration of several attempts at decreasing the statistic of Salisbury’s illiterate populous.

Past issues pertaining to funding and staffing have made the jumpstarting of READ far from easeful.

This time around, grants have been secured from organizations such as the the United Way, Henson Foundation, Friends of the Library and various Salisbury Rotary Clubs to ensure a permanent, more stable duration of the program’s existence.

“In the long-run, we aim to make READ an incorporated service of the library,” Curtis said.

The program’s qualified and dedicated volunteer literacy coaches provide tutoring sessions twice a week solely for the benefit of serving those less educated.

Coaches range from Wicomico County Health Department employees to local retirees; all of whom sign privacy agreements to secure tutees’ confidentiality.

Two Salisbury University faculty members participate in training the program’s prospective coaches and even take part in mentoring local illiterate.

Leonard Arvi, Ph.D., a professor of economics and finance at SU, explains his involvement with the program.

“The experience is very fulfilling, and I believe that it is a positive change to which I can help contribute,”Arvi said. “I assist in matters of finance; ranging from budgeting, money management, debts and check-cashing locations.”

Arvi joined the initiative after attending a city council meeting regarding the high volume of local employment opportunities in comparison to the low supply of qualified workers.

“The Wicomico County libraries announced the project at the meeting,” Arvi said. “…and with my experience in teaching money-saving and investment lessons in the past at James M. Bennett High, I decided to help train interested volunteer coaches for the program.”

Koomi Kim, Ph.D., a member of SU’s May Literacy Center, is also an integral part of the university’s contribution to the program at large.

As the host of supportive sessions of READ’s numerous tutors often held at the May Center, Kim shared some insight.

“I am very impressed with both the coordination of the program and motivation of the program’s volunteer coaches,” Kim said.

The program encourages one-on-one coaching staff from within the community.

The libraries’ downtown branch will be hosting an employment readiness seminar on Wednesday, April 26 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.

More information about Project READ is available at www.wicomicolibrary.org/project-read or 410-749-3612, ext. 159.

Couple furnishes SU’s third largest donation

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Photos by Sawyer Cornelius

By SAWYER CORNELIUS

Staff Writer

Salisbury will soon be equipped with an all-new Center for Entrepreneurship with the Rommels’ donation.

Dave and Patsy Rommel are Salisbury locals with deep ties to the University and its goal for student preparedness, especially within the business fields.

Dave Rommel began his professional career working for Rommel Electric Company, which was founded by his father in the late 1970s.

He grew the family business into the current Rommel Construction Group that specializes in electrical, mechanical, traffic and transit work.

The company also operates several Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealerships and Ace Hardware locations throughout the mid-Atlantic.

Dave Rommel’s mother is an SU alumna herself and is committed along with his wife, Patsy, in helping a new generation of entrepreneurs find success.

On Thursday, President Janet Dudley-Eshbach announced an overwhelming $5.5 million gift from the Rommels.

This benefits the establishment of the new Center for Entrepreneurship at the Plaza Gallery Building in downtown Salisbury, in addition to funding future campus and Perdue School activities.

The esteemed announcement was the culmination of SU’s eighth annual Phillip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation Shore Hatchery program, which provides some $200,000 in annual funding for young entrepreneurs throughout the region with Shark Tank-style competitions and pitches.

The news came as a prelude to Friday’s Entrepreneurship Competitions, also sponsored by SU, that offers close to $100,000 in annual cash awards.

The $20,000 Bernstein Achievement Award for Excellence initiated by local entrepreneur Richard Bernstein in 1986 is a cornerstone of the local support and yearning for entrepreneurial accomplishment.

“Patsy and I are thrilled,” Dave Rommel said. “It is an honor to be able to support our hometown University, and very easy to support something as progressive as this.”

The new Center is expected to be operational for student and public use by 2020.

It will feature shared co-op spaces, six offices, construction garages for winners of mentioned competitions, manufacturing space dedicated to robotics and a small assembly with usage of 3-D prototype printing services.

For clothing creations, textile workshops will grant sufficient space for manufactured apparel to be sold through an on-site “spirit store” at the downtown location.

Perdue School Dean Christy Weer underscored the day’s takeaways for those considering SU enrollment and business study interests.

“I think this gives students a greater vision of opportunity that not just any school can provide,” Weer said. “We hope to serve students in greater ways than ever before as a result of these coming improvements.”

The new center is only a portion of a much larger vision that the university and the City of Salisbury view on the horizon.

Their joint efforts aim at designating 30 acres in downtown as a Regional Institution Strategic Enterprise (RISE) Zone by the Maryland Department of Commerce. SU was recently announced as a qualified institution.

If said distinction is attained, the spurring of economic development and job creation with the assistance of property and income tax credits is promised to follow.

President Dudley-Eshbach described the recent years of city-university partnership.

“When I began in 2000, I felt the University was very inward-looking,” Dudley-Eshbach said. “It is extremely important that we have a connection to not only locals, but also residents of the Eastern Shore, entire State and ultimately the nation for assisting students through their entrepreneurial ideas.”

The Rommels’ gift is SU’s third largest financial donation to date and ushers in a new age of student opportunity and community cooperation.

 

UNESCO director-general presents violent extremism prevention lecture

BY VAL PETSCHE

Staff Writer

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UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presents solutions to violent extremism during her speech on April 6 in the Guerrieri Academic Commons. Photo by Val Petsche

UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova presents solutions to violent extremism during her speech on April 6 in Guerrieri Academic Commons.

 

Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Irina Bokova spoke at Salisbury University on April 6.

 

Over 400 students and faculty attended the presentation, which was entitled “Preventing Violent Extremism in the 21st century.”

 

This event was organized by Professor Brian Polkinghorn, SU executive director of the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution, and Professor Mark Brennen, the UNESCO chair for Rural Community, Leadership and Youth Development at the Pennsylvania State University.

 

Bokova discussed solutions for building and sustaining peace, as well as ways of preventing violent extremism by cultivating a generation of global citizens.

 

She ultimately sought to provide the tools to overcome the challenges of a conflict-ridden society.

 

The speech was a part of the “One Person Can Make a Difference” lecture series hosted by the Bosserman Center for Conflict Resolution.

 

Bokova communicated the dire need for a generation of global citizens that can challenge violent extremists through skills to react to hate speech.

 

In order to learn such skills, there must be an emphasis on improving literacy, civic engagement and tolerance.

 

Following an assertion that violent extremists are not born into such positions, but are made, Bokova provided appropriate responses to consider.

 

“Violent extremists promote fear and division—we must respond with skills, with opportunities for civic engagement, for intercultural dialogue,” Bokova said.

 

Bokova was also awarded the President’s Medal by Dr. Janet Dudley-Eshbach, President of Salisbury University.

 

The director-general was commended by Dr. Dudely-Esbach for her “lifelong dedication and service to the global community of [UNESCO], and for her major contribution to ensuring that girls have equal access to education.”

 

Bokova is the first woman to lead UNESCO, serving the organization since November 15, 2009. She has been recognized with state distinctions from across the world for her efforts to advance quality education, gender equality and sustainable development for all.

 

 

Cody Wehlan, SU graduate assistant for conflict resolution, stood among the audience to ask what people can do in their communities, as well as on the global scale, to create a welcoming atmosphere for people of all cultures and religions.

 

Wehlan formerly addressed the growing issue of a marginalized youth vulnerable to the influence of organizations with deceptive political agendas such as ISIS and Boko Haram.

 

“Well, I think the internet gives an enormous opportunity for these platforms. It very much goes along the lines of diversity and mutual understanding or respect,” Bokova said.

 

One such question asked what gives the director-general hope, which prompted the discussion on the tremendous progress education has made as a major component in today’s global political agenda.

 

“On one side I see a lot of hope for the future, but we have to think deeply in order to tackle some of these situations because hard power is not enough,” Bokova said.

 

The insight continued as Bokova accredited the work of those who are actively involved while also encouraging others to do the same.

 

“I think there are millions of people who understand what is there. Most importantly, they are committed, they are engaged, they are not bystanders just watching what is happening,” Bokova said.