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Black Heritage Awards Ceremony

By Janean L. Watkins
On March 28, 2011

"This is an annual tradition that resonates with the universities core values," stated Grace Dawson, Secretary of the Board of Trustees, as part of her opening speech at this year's Black Heritage Awards ceremony, where Tim King, founder, CEO, and President of the Urban Prep Academies spoke to a packed Alumni Hall.

Her sentiment was in tune with the theme of this year's ceremony and keynote speaker. The theme, "Let Freedom Ring", and Tim King's message of "we believe" hit home for many in attendance at the event.

Speaking of his students at Urban Prep Academy, King said, "We have to allow ourselves to be inspired by these young people…we must believe because of them." This message rang out loud-and-clear among the ranks of university students, faculty, staff and visitors. It applied especially to awardees.

This year's recipients included: Tim King, Distinguished Leadership in Urban Education; Robert E. Bedford, Administrator Award of Excellence; William H. Logan, Community Service Award of Excellence; Dr. Russell Benjamin and Louis Casmir, Faculty Award of Excellence; Patrick Fleury, Staff Award of Excellence; Lakeesha Harris, Student Award of Excellence; Dr. BarBara E. Scott, William "Doc" Speller Lifetime Achievement Award; Dr. Nicole E. Holland, Dr. Melvin Cleveland Terrell Award in Research and Lifetime Achievement.

This year's event was supported by many departments, which included the NEIU Foundation, and the Office of Alumni Relations. Hosted by Dr. Katrina Bell-Jordan, the crowd was treated to a riveting performance by God's House of All Nations. Dr. Queenella Miller said of the event, "There are meaningful people here that add to the ceremony's meaningfulness."

One portion of the ceremony was set aside for the passing of the torch tradition. This is where the current Chairperson of the Black Heritage Committee "passes the torch" to the next Chairperson. This year, the chairperson position was awarded to Alice Pennamon of the Graduate College.

Those in attendance truly enjoyed the ceremony, and look forward to it every year. Patricia, an alumnae who recently graduated with a master's degree in Human Resource Development said, "It's nice to visit the school again. It's great to come back after graduating."

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