Dr. Melba Beals address, awards highlight "Unity in Diversity Week"

As part of the Unity in Diversity spring schedule, civil rights leader Dr. Melba Beals, Chair Emeritus of Dominican's Department of Communications and Media Studies, delivered a keynote address on April 3 in Guzman Lecture Hall.

The annual event, free and open to the public, was featured in a weeklong celebration of diversity at Dominican. Ceremonies culminated on April 5 when the Fourth Annual Excellence in Diversity Awards were combined with the Second Annual Penguin Leadership Awards in the Creekside Room.

At the Penguin Leadership Awards, Taylor Andreozzi was named Outstanding Student Leader of the Year, Samantha Hunt was selected Exemplary Dominican Pillars Award winner, and Kayla Robinson was recipient of the Outstanding Student Event of the Year Award for Real Talk: Crime and Incarceration. In addition, the PRIDE Club was named Student Organization of the Year and Dr. Henry Shriebman was Faculty/Staff Advisor of the Year.

Emanuel Cifuentes-Machado was announced as the winner of the Melba Beals Excellence in Diversity Student Award and Noreen Hasan, Student Director of Diversity for Associated Students of Dominican University (ASDU), accepted the Melba Beals Excellence in Diversity Group Award for the Student Diversity Advisory Committee.

Noreen introduced Dr. Beals at her keynote address on April 3.

Dr. Beals was one of nine African-American high school students in 1957 to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Shortly after joining Dominican in 1999, Dr. Beals founded a communications program that has grown into the Department of Communications and Media Studies. Dr. Beals led the department, first as director and then as chair, as it grew in enrollment and academic programming.

Thanks to her leadership, the Department responded swiftly to the rapidly changing media industry. As the news broadcasting and publishing industries merged with video and web formats, the department broadened to reflect this media convergence. Students gained the opportunity to write across media and learn new technologies such as podcasting, broadcasting and production of enriched online viewer experiences.

The department also expanded to enable students to pursue their studies along more specialized paths. Today the Department of Communications and Media Studies offers courses in cinema studies, print media, broadcasting, corporate communications and sports communications.

Dr. Beals introduced several programs that allowed students to gain real-world experiences while studying communications at Dominican. She oversaw development and growth of radio.dominican.edu, the university’s student-operated Internet radio station, as well as The Habit, the student-managed newspaper. Dr. Beals helped to establish the Bettie Grinnell Communications Lab in Archbishop Alemany Library, leading fundraising efforts to upgrade the lab and collaborating on the design and layout.

Since 2001, Dr. Beals has been a founding member of the Diversity Action Group, which is credited with collaboratively transforming Dominican into a diversity affirming institution at a time when the University’s student body was becoming increasingly diverse. In 2012, Dr. Beals created the TORCH (Together on the Road to New Chapters) leadership program designed to support students entering Dominican with a structured orientation program followed by ongoing mentoring.

Just as her work at Dominican is defined by her commitment to our students, Dr. Beals’ life is defined by her commitment to equality for all. She is a true champion of justice and equity. Warriors Don’t Cry won the 1994 American Library Association Award for Nonfiction Book of the Year, was named a Notable Book of the year by the American Booksellers Association, and received the coveted Robert F. Kennedy Award for Excellence in Writing. A play based on the book was produced by The Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts. It has been performed in New York City and throughout New England.

Dr. Beals holds more than 100 awards for heroism and courage. In 1999, the U.S. Congress voted Dr. Beals and her Little Rock Nine companions the Congressional Gold Medal – the nation’s highest honor – for their contribution to the Civil Rights movement. In 2002, Dr. Beals was inducted to the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame. In 2012, she was honored by the Marin Human Rights Commission.

In 2007, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the integration of Central High School, the U.S. Postal Service issued a postage stamp to honor the Little Rock Nine. The Post Office's stamp was one of 10 commemorative postage stamps in a series called "To Form a More Perfect Union." That same year, Dr. Beals and the other eight members of the Little Rock Nine attended the unveiling of a life-size statue of all nine on the grounds of the Arkansas State Capitol. The sculpture depicts the Little Rock Nine walking together, books in hand, as they did in 1957 entering the historic high school. Also in 2007, the United States Mint issued the Little Rock Central High School Desegregation silver dollar.

For her keynote address at Dominican, Dr. Beals delivered a speech entitled "Asserting Our Human Rights."  Dr. Suresh Appavoo, Dean for Diversity and Equity at Dominican, moderated a Q & A session following Dr. Beals' keynote address.

The event was presented by the Office of Diversity & Equity in collaboration with TORCH, DAG, SDAC and ASDU. All "Unity in Diversity" events are part of the University’s Democracy and Equity Initiative. Students are spending this academic year immersed in a thought-provoking and collaborative lineup of courses and activities focused on a central theme of “Democracy and Equity.” Programming both in and out of the classroom is engaging students in some of the most critical issues facing the U.S.


April 2, 2018