Oct. 24, 2018
NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) will hold its inaugural Day of Dialogue on Thursday, Nov. 8. This is a campus-wide initiative with suspended day and evening classes to ensure full campus participation by students and faculty.  The theme of this year’s Day of Dialogue is “Complicating Race.” This event is free and open to the public.

According to Christopher MacDonald-Dennis, MCLA’s chief diversity officer, the Day of Dialogue is one of a number of initiatives the College has undertaken in its continuing effort to create an increasingly equitable campus.

MCLA recently was recognized by the University of Southern California’s Race and Equity Center as one of the top public institutions in the nation for serving black students well.

“We are excited that we were recognized for some of the work that we are doing, but we know that this is a work in progress. We see it as a call to action,” MacDonald-Dennis said. “MCLA’s Day of Dialogue: Complicating Race is one response as the campus moves forward to infuse diversity, equity, and inclusion.”

The day will begin with an opening breakfast and welcome as participants enjoy a pancake “sundae bar” with MacDonald-Dennis and Dr. Christine Condaris, professor of music, 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., in the Venable Gym. Condaris will present an opening musical piece to inspire those in attendance to listen deeply to each other.

Attendees may choose to attend one of the following morning workshops from 9:45 to 11:45 a.m., in Bowman Hall, which include “Power Up: Art as Action, Art as Dialogue,” with Melanie Mowinski, associate professor of visual art; “A Short History of Anti-Immigrant Feeling in the United States” with Dr. Ely Janis, associate professor of history; and “Multiracial Identity: Check all that Apply,” with Kayla Hollins ’12, associate director of admissions. In addition, Dr. Dale Fink, professor of education, will lead a discussion explaining how Dr. Seuss could be racist at times.

Also, MacDonald-Dennis and Dr. Jenna Sciuto, assistant professor of English, will screen the documentary film, “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs,” to be followed by a discussion titled, “Reflections on a Radical: Grace Lee Boggs, Solidarity, and Political Revolution,” in the Amsler Campus Center’s Sullivan Lounge.

Following the morning workshops, participants are invited to engage in dialogue over lunch in Venable Gym, noon to 1:45 p.m. This “mix-it-up” session, facilitated by Dr. Kerri Leyda Nicoll, assistant professor of social work, will encourage participants to reflect more deeply on their morning workshops and on their own relationships on the topics covered during the day.

Afternoon workshops will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. in Bowman Hall. They will include “Race, Standardized Testing, and Admissions,” with Kayla Hollins ’12, associate director of admissions, and Dean of Enrollment Management and Community Relations Gina Puc; “Afrofuturism: A Literary Exploration of a Moving Genre (and a creative writing engagement),” with Dr. Caren Beilin, assistant professor of English; and “Race, Ethnicity, and Language: Stigma, Prestige, and Power,” with Emily Alling, associate dean for library services.

In addition, “Why Representation Matters: A Conversation about the Role of Museums” will be led by Michelle Daly, director of the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center, at MCLA Gallery 51, and “Agency for People of Color in Entertainment Media,” will be presented by Assistant Director of Diversity Programs and the Multicultural Education Center Michael Obasohan ’11 and Jamal Ahamad ’11, a teacher of math and English at Taconic High School in Pittsfield, in the Sullivan Lounge in the Amsler Campus Center.

The Day of Dialogue will conclude with the Eighth Annual Michael S. and Kitty Dukakis Public Policy Lecture, when best-selling author, journalist, and comic book writer Ta-Nehisi Coates reads from and participates in a moderated conversation about his book, “Between the World and Me,” which was called “essential, like water or air,” by A.O. Scott of The New York Times.

This public policy event, which will begin at 7 p.m. in the MCLA Amsler Campus Center Gym, is made possible through the generosity of the Ruth E. Proud Charitable Trust. It is free and open to the public.

Those who wish to attend are encouraged to arrive early to ensure seating. This lecture also will be simulcast in the Sullivan Lounge, in the Amsler Campus Center. Please note: No large bags will be allowed in the gym. All small bags will be checked at the entrance by security.

For more information about MCLA’s Day of Dialogue, go to  or contact MacDonald-Dennis, (413) 662-5300 or

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.​


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