Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El; Photo by Mike Ryan

To honor the work of an important diversity and inclusion advocate on campus, the Intercultural Center has been renamed to celebrate the work of Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El, professor of psychology and director of the African-American Studies minor. Millersville’s Council of Trustees approved the naming at their meeting on Sept. 19. The center will now be known as the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center.

In addition to teaching courses in various topics from General Psychology to Human Growth and Development, Smith Wade-El has worked as a tutor coordinator, advisor for secondary education social studies majors with psychology option, co-op coordinator, certification evaluator, pre-law advisory committee, undecided advisor and colloquium coordinator.

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.

This naming recognizes her tireless efforts as a community service advocate in creating and sustaining a welcoming and inclusive campus.

Since the Intercultural Center’s opening in 2018, it has supported students of color and the LGBTQA+ community by helping to affirm their identity exploration.

MU students in the Intercultural Center

“The Intercultural Center serves as a hub for identity exploration and diversity education for students,” say Jas Whitlow, director of the center.  “With the fall semester, we wanted events to be identity-focused and really get students centered on their role in creating and sustaining an inclusive environment, while creating a sense of belonging.”

Over the summer, Whitlow trained student leaders within the division of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, and planned two affinity welcome events for students of color and the LGBTQIA+ community.

In September, the center hosted Ken E. Nwadike Jr., a peace activist and video journalist known as the Free Hugs Guy. This talk about race, love and the peaceful resolution of civil discourse, exemplifies the kind of events Whitlow plans to host in the future.

Upcoming events include the Courageous Conversations series in partnership with the School of Social Work. Events will take place on Sept. 25, “Race & Sexual Orientation;” Oct. 23, “Race & Politics;” Nov. 6, “Race & Religion;” and Dec. 4, “Global Perspectives of Race.”

Multicultural Movie Mondays will begin on Sept. 24 in Club DeVille in the Student Memorial Center. Films for the fall semester include, “Uncle Drew,” “Sorry to Bother You,” and “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Pridefest will take place on Oct. 12, a viewing of the film “Blackkklansman” will be hosted on Oct. 18, and the Multicultural Showcase will occur on Nov. 14.

With so much planned for the future, the Intercultural Center has quickly outgrown its space at SMC 110. The Pennsylvania State Employee Credit Union’s (PSECU) Financial Education Center relocated from the room next door to the Intercultural Center to a larger space next to the Juice Bar this summer. This move left an ideal vacancy at SMC 111. The center has taken over the space and has already begun utilizing it for programs. Over Winter Break, a door will be built between the two spaces so they can be used in tandem for diversity educational and recreational activities for students.

“With the new expansion, we want students to have various ways to engage with the center. The expansion will provide various styles of seating and space for discussions and meetings,” say Whitlow. “As the center continues to expand, it is the hope for students and the campus community to engage with the center as we strive to make our campus more inclusive.”

For more information on the Dr. Rita Smith Wade-El Intercultural Center, contact Jas Whitlow at icse@millersville.edu.

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