Millersville University celebrated retiring psychology and African-American studies professor, Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El, with an event on Sunday, Sept. 16. The celebration was held from 4-7 p.m. in Marauder Courts in the Student Memorial Center (SMC) and it was open to the public.
The campus community still has the opportunity to celebrate Smith Wade-El and continue her legacy by contributing to the scholarships she is passionate about; the Rita Smith Wade-El Social Justice Scholarship and the Eva Mae and James Edward Smith African-American Studies Scholarship.
While those in attendance has the chance to bid on “Rita-mabilia” during a silent auction, donations are still being accepted. All the proceeds will go toward the scholarships.
“The legacy I want to leave behind is one of social justice, research and scholarships that make sure African-American students can attend college,” says Smith Wade-El. “I want students to become exceptional scholars, which I think students can be and I want people to be committed to the community and activism.”
At Millersville University, Smith Wade-El taught a variety of courses including General Psychology, Psychology of Racism, Psychology of Religion, Psychology of African-Americans, Human Relations, the Black Women, History and Systems of Psychology, Learning and Motivation, Cognitive Psychology, and Human Growth and Development.
While Dr. Smith-Wade-El put her students first and contributed many hours to their development and success, her most public accomplishments included arranging speakers for named lectures addressing issues of diversity. In her tenure at MU, these speakers include poet laureate Rita Dove, Alice Walker, August Wilson, Jesse Jackson, The Three Doctors, Gwendolyn Brooks, Michael Eric Dyson, Neil Tyson, Cornel West, Maya Angelo and Edwidge Danticant.
She also created and was the director of the African-American Studies Minor and was influential in creating the Latino Studies Minor.
She has won many awards including the prestigious Essence of Humanity Award presented by the Crispus Attucks Community Center. In March, she was recognized at the 50th Black Student Association/Black Student Union Anniversary Celebration at MU. And, in May, she gave the graduate commencement address.