'Creating Access' is theme for first annual Black History Month Gala Feb. 24

‘Creating Access’ is theme for first annual Black History Month Gala Feb. 24

The University Office of Institutional Diversity is pleased to announce the first annual Black History Month Heritage Gala that will be held from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 24, in the Schulze Grand Atrium at the School of Law on the university’s downtown Minneapolis campus.

Join us as we launch and celebrate “Creating Access for the Future: Honoring Heritage and Legacy.”

The theme is significant for many reasons. Perhaps the most important is the access imperative. Never before in the history of American higher education have universities and colleges been called upon to provide leadership in responding to so many national challenges, from ensuring that our students acquire higher-order thinking skills to providing solutions for complex global, social and economic problems.

Access to higher education is a national imperative. The pressure to respond to demographic change and the need for a better-educated work force are forcing us to rethink the ways we conduct our business. It is critical that we address what we are doing as leaders of our community to ensure both student access to our institutions and excellence within them. We must accelerate our response to expand access to a larger portion of the population. Even more critical, St. Thomas hopes to be a leader in providing access and excellence as a Catholic institution of higher learning.

Tickets for the evening, including dinner, are $30 per person and are on sale now. The event is open all St. Thomas students, employees, alumni and the general public.

The gala is sponsored by St. Thomas’ Office of Institutional Diversity and supports diversity initiatives at the university.

The evening will feature a performance by singer and actress Thomasina Petrus and a keynote talk by attorney Alfred Coleman, a 2001 St. Thomas alumnus.

Petrus has performed in a number of theater venues in the Twin Cities including Penumbra, Mixed Blood, Illusion and Park Square; most recently she was seen in Penumbra’s “Ain’t Misbehavin’.”

Coleman works for a major law firm in the Twin Cities. He has provided pro bono legal services to low-income individuals, assisted in the formation of the state’s first bioscience charter school and authored a widely circulated business advice column known as “Ask Al.” He has been recognized by the Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal as one of the youngest professionals to receive the publication’s “40 under 40” award.

For tickets or more information about the gala, contact me or Jackie Elvehjem at (651) 962-6178 or via e-mail at jmelvehjem@stthomas.edu. Information also is posted on the Office of Institutional Diversity’s Web site at www.stthomas.edu/mission/diversity.