Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Mary Frances Berry delivers the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture

In the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court said separate but equal education was inherently unequal. Civil rights activist and educator Mary Frances Berry said despite this, segregation in schools persists today.

“[The belief was] that the good white people in America would do that right thing,” Berry said on Thursday, Oct. 25, when she spoke at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall. “If we win the lawsuit and if we win the case in Brown, then segregation will end…. Well that didn’t happen.”

Berry shared these views during her keynote address at the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture, which honors the late civil rights activist and lawyer from Wilmington. Redding was part of the legal team fighting against segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case.

UD President Dennis Assanis shared a bit about Redding and his legacy. Redding was the first African-American attorney admitted to the Delaware Bar, where he served as the only non-white member for more than two decades. In 2013, the University dedicated a new residence hall in Redding’s honor.

“The diversity that Mr. Redding helped create continues to increase our community today,” Assanis said. “We often say that the University was founded 275 years ago in 1743. I like to say that the inclusive excellence pillar of UD was actually founded in 1951 [when black students were first admitted to UD because of Redding’s lawsuit against the university], and that’s an important statement. We are grateful for Louis Redding’s vision and hard work.”

As part of the evening, awards were presented to individuals in the community who have made a difference.

Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, has dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights, gender equality and social justice. She served as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004. A professor and former chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder (the first woman to head a major research university), Berry has decades of experience with race and education.

She drew on these experiences to explain the challenges the U.S. education system continues to face. She focused first on K-12 education — the pipeline to colleges — where she said there is overemphasis on standardized testing. She dubbed the U.S. educational system, “standardized test score junkies.”

“Instead of testing people on what we taught them,” she said, “we test them on what we didn’t teach them.”

This obsession disproportionately affects students of color, particularly black and Latino students, she said. As a result, many end up left behind and never make it out of the pipeline to college. She offered that more teachers must be willing to meet students where they are, instead of teaching from where they are expected to be.

Due to the problems in the pipeline, the pool of college students start off with a diversity problem, Berry said. The number of minority students enrolled to earn degrees is a stark difference compared to the overall population.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 13 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students were enrolled in a degree-granting institution in 2016. Those numbers are 6.9 percent for Asian students, and less than 1 for Native Americans. These numbers are dismal, Berry said.

She noted that the institutional problems obviously extend outside of education. Speaking particularly of the black experience, she said there continues to be danger in everyday activities.

“It’s not just driving while black anymore,” she said. “It’s living while black.”

Although there is still much work to be done and it can often feel like little progress has been made, she said those who won awards that evening are examples of the change-makers society needs. Her message was just do something.

“If we want to make change, continue — all of you that got awards as well as the other people — to do what you can do,” Berry said. “There’s something you can do everyday. When you see something happening, you can do something, whether you do it surreptitiously or whether you do it out in the open.”

Berry examines these issues as well as other movements she’s been part of in her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.

Honoring Change Makers

During the awards portion of the evening, UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson thanked the honorees for their dedication in the fight for civil rights. She borrowed a few words from political leader and activist Nelson Mandela to highlight the impact of the winners.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul — notes great humanitarian, social activist and former president Nelson Mandela — than the way in which a society treats its children,” Henderson said.

2018 Louis L. Redding Award Winners

  • Camille Sims-Johnson
  • Ramona Neunuebel

2018 Recognition of Legends Roll Call

  • Rep. James Johnson
  • Sen. Margaret Rose Henry
  • Raye Jones Avery
  • Beatrice Ross Coker
  • Patricia DeLeon
  • Jane Hovington
  • Lawrence Livingston
  • Maria Matos
  • Jeanne Nutter
  • Terry Whittaker
  • Freeman Williams
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award, Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program (right).
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award were Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program.

 | Photo by Kevin Quinlan | 

Combating Food Waste

Combating Food Waste

UD students, faculty and Dining Services pitch in to fight waste, hunger.

Food waste is an extremely frustrating concept. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. is never eaten; simultaneously, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.

The state of Delaware is no exception, so University of Delaware students, faculty and staff are pitching in to combat food waste. We highlight their efforts during National Nutrition Month and its 2018 theme “Go Further with Food.”

UD students

Junior Lauren Burkett (left) and senior Kristen Mathieson (right) are members of Nutrition and Dietetics Club at UD.

The student-run Nutrition and Dietetics Club at UD is educating the Newark and surrounding communities on food waste and insecurity.

“Making people aware of food waste is the first step in preventing it,” said UD senior Sarah Russel. “I personally decided to get involved with the club to extend my knowledge outside of class and into the Delaware community.”

The group will set up shop at Trabant Kiosk A throughout the month of March, providing education on topics such as smarter grocery buying, planning leftovers and portion sizes.

The Food Recovery Network, another student-run organization, carries the goal of reducing food waste by collecting excess food from the dining halls and donating the food to local food pantries. The students hold multiple food drives each semester; for Thanksgiving, these Blue Hens collected more than 200 pounds of canned goods.

“Food insecurity and food waste are major issues in our country and across the world,” said sophomore dietetics student Nicole Boylan. “These issues overlap with nutrition as an inability to access food and maintain an adequate diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and many other health issues.”

UD faculty

Behavioral Health & Nutrition (BHAN) instructor Kristin Wiens teaches Sustainability and Food, a course that discusses strategies to shrink your personal food footprint such as reducing food and packaging waste. In the Food & Nutrition Education Lab in Willard Hall, Wiens lays out leftover food and items close to their “use by” date for the students to take home.

When The Tower at STAR Campus opens this fall, Wiens will help run the Demonstration Kitchen — a unique experiential learning space that doubles as a catering kitchen. In addition to classes, the space will host community members for sessions on topics like sustainability.

Wiens is also working with the Mike Popovich (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources) on the UD Farm. In addition to sourcing ingredients from the farm for classes, Wiens and Popovich collaborate on a farm-to-table healthy recipe video series showcasing seasonal produce grown on campus.

“We have people who are hungry. We have extra food. But the two things aren’t connecting to help solve the problem,” Wiens said.

BHAN adjunct professor Jennifer Linton is extremely active in nonprofit circles, working with groups like the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen. A few years ago, she started calling restaurants to ask about their excess food. Most said they threw food away out of fear of being sued. Concerned about this issue, Linton began investigating federal legislation and discovered the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act; it encourages donation of excess food to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need and protects organizations from liability when donating to a non-profit. The Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 later built on this legislation, encouraging federal agencies to donate excess food.

Many large organizations have systems in place to put excess food to good use compared to smaller entities. For example, Sam’s Club works with Feeding America to rescue food from stores and redirect it to families facing hunger.

“Most businesses don’t know about these laws, know who to give to, or even consider donating,” said Linton.

Linton points to educating business owners on the donation legislation and looking at how other countries and cities are addressing the food waste issue.

France passed a law in 2016 that, if a store throws out food, it can be prosecuted. According to a recent NPR story, stores can be fined $4,500 for each infraction. While the law has gone through growing pains towards effectiveness, Linton said it’s an important step in the right direction.

She would also like to see the establishment of organizations like Philabundance in Delaware.

Philabundance, Linton said, is “doing everything to combat food waste including gleaning (harvesting leftover crops and produce from fields and orchards). As individuals we can do our part to help prevent food waste — not over-purchasing food and donating excess food to local pantries.”

UD Dining Services

UD Dining Services is combating food waste via its sustainability platform “Green Thread.” In partnership with Aramark, it weaves waste minimization into Dining Services across all 16 on-campus dining locations.

“As we help to minimize food waste, there are efforts our guests can take like being mindful of portion sizes and only filling your plate with amounts that are right for you,” said Debra Miller, Dining Services’ registered dietician.

Each semester, Dining Services partners with the Food Recovery Network. Since last spring semester, over 500 pounds of unused food has been recovered and donated to local, community food pantries.

UD Dining Services reduces, reuses and recycles throughout the food production and service processes. Examples include:

  • The Caesar Rodney Dining Fresh Food Company breaks down and diverts food waste from landfills through two mechanical bio-digesters, averting potent greenhouse gas emissions
  • All locations participate in the University’s single-stream recycling program, as well as Recyclemania
  • Perishable food is donated to the Food Bank of Delaware
  • Dining locations collect and recycle used cooking oil

About Community Engagement

The University of Delaware cultivates civic-minded, engaged citizens through partnerships that impact communities’ needs. Community-based experiences are woven into UD’s teaching, research and service activities where students, faculty and staff apply knowledge and creativity to the critical challenges facing communities — in Delaware and around the world. In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized this commitment, designating UD as a community engaged university, an honor awarded to less than 10% of U.S. colleges and universities.

UDaily Article by Dante LaPenta | Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson | Courtesy of Jennifer Linton and UD Dining Services | March 21, 2018

Diversity Grants Awarded for Collaborative Projects

Diversity Grants Awarded for Collaborative Projects

Collaborative projects focus on equity, inclusion in education

A research project highlighting residents’ stories from the historical exhibit “Wilmington, 1968” and a study examining the emotional and cultural intelligence of prospective teachers have been awarded University of Delaware grants.

The awards from the College of Arts and Sciences’ Center for the Study of Diversity and the College of Education and Human Development’s Delaware Center for Teacher Education were made under the centers’ 2018 Collaborative Grant Program.

The collaboration was developed to help support the work of teacher preparation faculty or instructional staff interested in exploring a line of inquiry, climate-related issue or curriculum innovation focused on promoting equity, diversity and inclusion for education stakeholders.

The 2018 grant recipients are:

  • Deborah Bieler, associate professor of English, Melva Ware, adjunct faculty member in the School of Public Policy and Administration, and Angela Winand, affiliated assistant professor of history, for the project “Delaware Historical Society and UD English Education Freedom Schools Partnership.” English education students, in collaboration with the Mitchell Center for African American Heritage, will develop and implement a curriculum for Freedom School Scholars to conduct an oral history project. Teams of middle and high school students will research “Wilmington 1968” and focus on the stories of residents.
  • Tia N. Barnes and Bridgette Johnson, both assistant professors of human development and family sciences, for “Examining the Relationship between Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence, and Teacher Candidates’ Self-Efficacy in Delivering Culturally Responsive Teaching Practices.” They will study Early Childhood Education (ECE) teacher candidates’ emotional intelligence, cultural intelligence and self-efficacy in using culturally responsive practices in teaching social emotional competencies. They will collect online surveys from current juniors and seniors in the ECE program this spring semester.

The collaborative grants program aims to facilitate a wider understanding of the social and academic impacts of diversity and to inform and support equitable practices within the teacher preparation community.

Applicants for the grants were encouraged to make connections between their proposals and specific aspects of campus climate mentioned in the “Inclusive Excellence: Action Plan for Diversity at UD” and/or President Dennis Assanis’ strategic principle of “Building an Environment of Inclusive Excellence.”


Health Sciences Pipeline

Health Sciences Pipeline

Health Sciences Pipeline

College of Health Sciences Dean Kathleen Matt (far right) is on her second year teaching ‘Introduction to Health Sciences’ in local high schools. Article by Dante LaPenta Photos by Ashley Barnas and Alyssa Benjamin

Engaging local high school students to inspire future healthcare workforce

The University of Delaware College of Health Sciences (CHS) is expanding engagement locally by giving high school students a jumpstart as they prepare for college. With a focus on Delawareans and underrepresented students, the UD College of Health Sciences Pipeline Program exposes middle and high school students to the breadth of health sciences career choices and aids in preparation for the academic rigor of higher education. A goal is to recruit and develop highly educated professionals — the future local leaders of the healthcare profession. Investing in these students provides opportunities for them to be competitive and better prepared for college.

“This is one piece of creating a diverse workforce,” said CHS Dean Kathleen Matt. “Healthcare is delivered to individuals from a broad range of backgrounds and it’s important that we have a workforce in Delaware that reflects those we serve as they deliver quality care.”

Matt is leading by example. At Newark High School, she’s taught Introduction to Health Sciences, a dual-credit course for 26 juniors and seniors. The course explores the interaction between healthcare professionals, government policy and individual demand for healthcare as the industry works towards long-term solutions to healthcare challenges.

“We wanted to create a class and a pipeline because these students are the ones who help us reimagine what effective healthcare really looks like,” Matt said. “We wanted to reach back further to get them engaged sooner so that they see the possibilities and opportunities available to them. It’s important for high school students to get a glimpse into what it will be like in college. That’s why we chose the format of having them engage with University faculty and community partners.”

And Newark students have really taken to the course.

“The class is very eye-opening of what a college course is. It’s very different from a high school class,” Newark student Micah Howard-Sparks said. “We have guest speakers who give lectures on their jobs, their life, their education and what they are doing to improve the healthcare of our country.”

In the spring semester, the same students will take another CHS class, Introduction to Medical Laboratory Sciences. The juniors in the class will then have a chance to take two additional CHS courses during their senior year.

In true Delaware fashion, the connections run deep. Matt is a Newark High School graduate. Her passion for UD and her high school alma mater blend perfectly in this unique course.

“I grew up in this community,” she said. “To me, it goes without saying that a school like Newark High School, which is right in the neighborhood of our University, should benefit from engaging with UD. The University should add value to its community.”

Read more — UDaily

Hassan El-Amin: Playing MLK Jr. at UD

Hassan El-Amin: Playing MLK Jr. at UD

Hassan El-Amin is Martin Luther King Jr. in UD REP’s “The Mountaintop.” Courtesy of N. Howatt/REP

For an hour and a half nearly every day for a month, Hassan El-Amin is Martin Luther King at the University of Delaware.

He plays the Civil Rights leader on the last night of his life, right after he’s giving his “I’ve been to the mountaintop” speech and right before he walks out on the balcony of a Memphis motel and is shot to death on April 4, 1968.

It’s an honor, El-Amin says of starring in “The Mountaintop” through Sunday, Oct. 8. It’s challenging. It’s emotionally draining. And tiring. He and his co-star talk for nearly the entire 90 minutes.

It’s also the kind of role that El-Amin lives for.

The 62-year-old actor, who grew up in San Diego and earned an undergraduate degree from San Diego State, got his master’s degree in UD’s now-mothballed Professional Theater Training Program before working in regional theater around the country. He wanted to play classical theater roles, he says.

He came home to Newark last year to join the professional Resident Ensemble Players and since has played a variety of roles in “Gods of Carnage,” “Clybourne Park,” “The Bells,” “Elephant Man” and “Tartuffe,” As MLK in “The Mountaintop,” it’s the first time the show has hung on his shoulders.

Read more — delawareonline (The News Journal)

UD members reflect on Dr. King’s Legacy

UD members reflect on Dr. King’s Legacy

Event facilitator and 2015 UD graduate Shyanne Miller presented questions to those attending a MLK Day discussion at Newark United Methodist Church on Monday, Jan. 15.

In 1963, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote an open letter on scraps of available paper while he sat in a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama. That now-famous letter was in response to eight white religious leaders who criticized King’s methods and, nearly 50 years after his death, it is often referenced when remembering Dr. King and his legacy.

About 100 people, many from the University of Delaware, gathered at the Newark United Methodist Church on Monday, Jan. 15, to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a national holiday.

Seven diverse speakers read aloud from portions of “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” The program brought together people from various groups, including the UD community, the Newark branch of the NAACP and elected officials, including Delaware’s U.S. Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester, a UD alumna.

Event facilitator and 2015 UD graduate Shyanne Miller presented questions to those attending, and a microphone was passed around for those who wanted to share their thoughts. After Miller posed the question, “So what is being said here about the white moderate?” Blunt Rochester took the microphone, explaining that she was moved to speak.

“This room tonight is so beautiful,” said Blunt Rochester. “There’s black, white, young, old, millenials, everybody. I just want to thank you.”

The hourlong program concluded with a song. Everyone rose and sang in unison, “We Shall Overcome.”

After the program, event facilitator Miller said she was pleased with the turnout, but there is always more work to be done.

“I’m black. Had I been born maybe 30 years prior, I would have been right smack dab in the middle of the civil rights movement,” said Miller. “The whole point of the civil rights movement was to dismantle Jim Crow. Clearly, if we are still talking about New Jim Crow, everything he said in this letter is completely relevant today.”

Naomi Seinsoth, a member of the church and 1974 UD graduate, said she never read the letter before and found it sobering in light of today’s race relations. Dr. King would have been 89 on Monday; he was assassinated on April 4, 1968.

“I was 11 and got on the school bus one morning, and they told us Dr. King was killed,” said Seinsoth. “Nothing’s ever been the same. But his memory is with us.”

Cami Seward (left) and Florine Henderson at Monday’s MLK Day event at the Newark United Methodist Church.

Florine Henderson, who recently retired from the admissions office after working 32 years at UD, said the event allowed her to really reflect.

“I think of all that has been done to help me become who I am, to pave the way for my children and my grandchildren,” Henderson said. “To allow me to be all that I am. I think of the path. The people who have tread the path and made a path through the wilderness for me to be able to stand and be who I am today. People have given their lives for me and I think Martin Luther King was the ultimate sacrifice.”

Cami Seward, a member of the Coalition to Dismantle the New Jim Crow, organized the event. It was modeled after a similar one she attended in recent years at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. This was the first year at the church.

“I’ve been wanting a group in Newark to remember and work with the words of Martin Luther King as they are written in ‘Letter from a Birmingham Jail,’” Seward said. “So, this year it’s come together.”

Day of Service

Next month, Residence Life and Housing, in collaboration with the Blue Hen Leadership Program, will host the seventh annual MLK Day of Service to honor Dr. King’s legacy.

The activity is scheduled on Saturday, Feb. 24, after the spring semester has started to give all UD students the opportunity to serve and honor Dr. King. Students will be able to sign up beginning Feb. 12.