DPUBLC celebrates milestone anniversary on campus

Rachel Marciano
May 18, 2017

On May 19, the DePaul University Black Leadership Coalition, also known as DPUBLC, will host its 20th annual Graduation Celebration. For more than 20 years, the organization has strived to provide a nurturing environment for the recruitment, retention and success of black students, faculty, and staff at DePaul.

"The organization began as an informal dialogue between faculty members about issues surrounding the recruitment and retention of African-American students at DePaul," says Carol Goodman-Jackson, an office manager in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and budget coordinator for DPUBLC. "Presently we act as a resource and advisory committee for the university administration and black community about issues pertaining to DePaul's black community."

Since its official designation in November 1996, the group has grown in both size and programming. Throughout the academic year, DPUBLC hosts a number of activities for its more than 200 members, such as twice-quarterly meetings, breakfasts and story-sharing sessions that often have keynote speakers and explore themes of intersectionality. The black town hall meetings were popular events this year, focusing on black retention, student growth and race and free speech.

"Our goal is to choose topics that inspire conversation and engage our community," says Faye Harris, an academic advisor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and communications coordinator for DPUBLC. "We play a major role in helping to plan DePaul's annual Diversity Forums. Overall we try to promote unity and cooperation across campuses."

The most popular event of the year, however, is the annual Celebration for Students of African Descent, which typically seats a packed house of family and friends each spring. With support from the Office of Institutional Diversity and Equity, and sponsorship donations from schools and departments across campus, DPUBLC hosts the event - not in an attempt to replicate the university's official ceremonies, where the students actually receive their degrees - but rather to honor the achievement and heritage of DePaul's African-American community. Faculty and staff wear traditional African garb. Djembe drums are played and dancers lead the ceremony. Graduates don hand-stitched Kinte stoles purchased by DPUBLC from Ghana each year.

"For the last 20 years we have purchased authentic Kinte stoles from the same town in Ghana for our graduates," Harris says. "Not only are they full of color and beautiful, but our students wear them with so much pride. It truly is such a joyous event."

The organization recently opened membership opportunities to graduate students who have jobs on campus. Moving forward, the group looks forward to participating in the development of DePaul's new center for African-American students, and hopes to get more faculty and staff involved to continue cultivating an atmosphere of support and mentorship among DePaul's black community.

"We want to continue working with the administration and other entities at DePaul on the campus' climate, with an emphasis on retention and graduation rates," says Valerie Johnson, chair of the Department of Political Science and faculty co-chair for DPUBLC. 

For more information or to inquire about joining DPUBLC, contact Faye Harris at [email protected]