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Lehigh to bestow Martin Luther King service awards Jan. 21

Lehigh will honor a series of individuals, organizations and area businesses by presenting them with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Awards.

Lehigh University will honor 10 individuals, four organizations and two Bethlehem-based businesses with the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Award for Dedication to Commitment to Service at a memorial convocation held at 4:30 p.m. Monday, January 21 in Packard Auditorium.

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Inaugural Memorial Convocation will celebrate the life and dream of the late civil rights activist through King’s often-articulated vision of “Building the Beloved Community.” The awards will be presented at the ceremony to honor the work of those who have distinguished themselves in the service of the university and neighboring communities.

“In this way, the convocation not only memorializes the work of Rev. Dr. King, Jr., but recognizes those in our communities whose work exemplifies his legacy,” says Yaba Blay, director of the Joint Multicultural International Program at Lehigh.

The convocation will kick off a two-week slate of events honoring King’s life and legacy. Events include an interfaith breakfast, workshops and lectures, and the airing of King’s speeches in locations across campus. The events will culminate in a keynote address by revered educator, author and activist Jonathan Kozol at 7 p.m. Wednesday, January 30 in Packard Auditorium.

The slate of events is the most extensive in the university’s history, according to organizers.

The convocation on January 21st will include a featured performance by Dwana Adiaha Smallwood—widely recognized as one of the nation’s most accomplished modern dancers—and a talk by Anthony Monteiro, Distinguished Lecturer in African-American studies at Temple. The Greater Shiloh Gospel Ensemble of the Greater Shiloh Church in Easton will also participate.

Faculty awards will go to:

Kim Carrell-Smith, professor of practice in Lehigh’s history department and an advocate for South Side Bethlehem.

Kashi K. Johnson ’94, associate professor in Lehigh’s theatre department, playwright, co-founder of RedSun Productions and organizer of Lehigh’s “Say Word! Hip Hop Theatre Festival.”


Student awards will go to:

Ahmed Salim ’08, a Lehigh international relations major with minors in Africana studies and religion studies, and active student leader. After graduation, Ahmed plans to enter graduate school and intends to establish a career in the field of conflict resolution and development in Africa and other developing nations.

Tiffany Searles ’08, a sociology major who has been active in community service since her first year at Lehigh. An active volunteer who mentor local elementary school children, she also sits on the boards of the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center. She plans on either attending graduate school or becoming a member of AmericCorps*VISTA.


Staff members to be honored include:

Roy Gruver ’69, current director of Technology Services at Lehigh and long-time volunteer with New Bethany Ministries.

Dr. Henry Odi ’98G, executive director of the Academic Outreach and Special Projects and co-director of a $1.2 million National Science Foundation-funded project at Lehigh to enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics in K-12 schools in two Lehigh Valley School Districts.


Alumni honored are:

Wayne Bethea ’91,’94,’01(G), a principal research investigator for the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and APL Chair for the university’s Black Faculty and Staff Association.

Leon Caldwell ’91, G’93, a former Lehigh student-athlete and active campus leader, and current research associate at the University of Memphis.


Community leaders to be honored include:

Sharon A. Brown, former multicultural affairs administrator at both Lehigh University and Moravian College and current chair of the board of AIDSNET, and the founder and organizer of an annual Black Women's Health Symposium.

Javier Toro, executive director of the South Bethlehem Neighborhood Center, president of the South Bethlehem Historical Society and member of several community organizations.


Student organizations honored will be:

Lehigh’s student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), which promotes social responsibility and equality through a variety of educational and social activities.

SPECTRUM, a student organization dedicated to providing support, social opportunities, educational outreach and social change for those who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer or questioning—as well as all those who are allies of the community.


Community organizations honored include:

Lehigh-Pocono Committee of Concern (LEPOCO), which is guided by a mission of building a just society and peaceful world through nonviolent action. The non-profit citizens group promotes nonviolent change through a variety of programs that include an annual summer Peace Camp for children, educational programs, outreach and activism.

New Bethany Ministries, which has served the poor and homeless of the Lehigh Valley through shelters, transitional housing sites and a hospitality center. It also serves as a place to socialize and to gain help and support.

Corporate awards will go to:

Goosey Gander, a small local business owned and managed by Tony and Debbie Silvoy. The couple frequently donates food to numerous Lehigh clubs and organizations and invests in the surrounding community by supporting several local clubs, school and sports leagues.

Just Born, Inc., a highly successful global company with local roots that date back more than 100 years. Under the leadership of the co-owners and co-CEOs David Shaffer and Ross Born, the company has made significant contributions to the greater Lehigh Valley through its philanthropic and educational programs, many of which are geared toward under-served and under-represented communities.

--Linda Harbrecht

Posted on Thursday, January 17, 2008

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