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Patrick Smith
IU Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development

George Vlahakis
University Communications

Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Annual Men and Women of Color Leadership Conference focuses on 'War on Education: What Does it Mean for U.S.?'

Oct. 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Charlie Nelms, the chancellor of North Carolina Central University since 2007 and previously a longtime Indiana University administrator, will return to IU Bloomington for the campus' annual Men and Women of Color Leadership Conference on Nov. 4-5.

Charlie Nelms

Charlie Nelms

Joining Nelms as presenters at the conference will be Tyrone Bledsoe, founder and executive director of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB); Shaun R. Harper, director of the Center for the Study of Race and Equity in Education at the University of Pennsylvania; and Khaula Murtadha, associate vice chancellor for lifelong learning at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI).

The third annual conference will be held at the Indiana Memorial Union and the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center. The theme for the student-founded conference is "War on Education: What Does it Mean for U.S.?"

Patrick Smith, executive director of IU's Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development, which sponsors the event, said the organizing committee felt the theme was timely given recent news events and issues involving education, including immigration policy reform.

"There are many policies that have come out that haven't had the impact we expected. For example, many states have had problems with No Child Left Behind -- which basically is an unfunded mandate -- because they've had issues meeting its criteria," he said. "It's also changed the way that many teachers instruct .. State funding allocations are determined based on test scores, which modifies the teaching.

"We feel that our speakers this year have the knowledge and expertise to address these issues in their own context -- a leader in community education, an expert on female African American leadership in higher education and the HBCU (Historically Black College and University) perspective," Smith said.

The event always has been committed to uniting African American, Latino, Asian and Native American people in Indiana and elsewhere by providing a platform and a venue for effective dialogue and leadership development.

"The charge that has been given to the keynote speakers and the session presenters is to create a dialogue of action, so students can feel empowered," he added. "The conference is designed for students to leave feeling they can make a difference and make an impact in their respective communities."

In addition to students from several IU campuses and Ivy Tech College, participants will represent Indiana State University, Southeast Missouri State, Michigan State University, the University of Missouri and other educational institutions.

About the presenters:

Tyrone Bledsoe

Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe

Dr. Tyrone Bledsoe

Bledsoe is founder and executive director of the Student African American Brotherhood (SAAB) Organization, a national organization with more than 250 chapters in 40 states. SAAB works with African American and Latino men at middle schools, high schools, colleges and universities.

Bledsoe, who holds a doctorate in counseling and student affairs administration from the University of Georgia, previously was vice president for student life and special assistant to the president at the University of Toledo. He was a contributing author to the 2006 book, African American Men in College (Jossey-Bass), and he consulted an international research team that addressed issues affecting men of color in Europe.

His international work has earned him notoriety with Ashoka, a global association of the world's leading social entrepreneurs, which recently selected him as one of the most outstanding social innovators in the world.

Shaun Harper

Harper, who earned his doctorate in higher education from IU, is a tenured faculty member of education, Africana studies and gender studies at the University of Pennsylvania. He also directs the Penn GSE Grad Prep Academy and is a faculty fellow in the Penn Institute for Urban Research. He actively researches race and gender in higher education, black male college access and achievement, and college student engagement.

He has published nine books and more than 75 peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and other academic publications. He has also delivered more than 40 keynote addresses and presented more than 125 research papers, workshops and symposia at national education conferences.

His books include Introduction to American Higher Education (Routledge, 2011), Student Engagement in Higher Education: Theoretical Perspectives and Practical Approaches for Diverse Populations (Routledge, 2009), College Men and Masculinities (Jossey-Bass, 2010), and the fifth edition of Student Services: A Handbook for the Profession (Jossey-Bass, 2011). His newest book, Exceeding Expectations: Black Male Achievers and Insights into College Success, is being published by Harvard University Press.

In September 2007, Harper was featured on the cover of Diverse Issues in Higher Education for his National Black Male College Achievement Study, the largest-ever empirical study of black male undergraduates.

Khaula Murtadha

Khaula Murtadha

Khaula Murtadha

Print-Quality Photo

Murtadha , associate vice chancellor for lifelong learning at IUPUI, also serves as the executive director of the Community Learning Network and is an associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies. Her research, teaching and service has focused on cultural issues in urban settings.

Murtadha, who received her doctorate in educational leadership and policy studies from Miami University, has written much about curriculum change for city schools that support the learning of black children, spirituality, social justice activism and urban school leadership.

Her research has been published in Urban Education, Leadership and Policy in Schools, the Journal of Research in Educational Leadership and the Educational Administration Quarterly. The Encyclopedia of Educational Leadership and Administration published her work on the lives of several black women in educational leadership, including Nannie Helen Burroughs, Septima Clark, Anna Julia Cooper; and Fannie Jackson Coppin.

In 2010, the "100 Black Women of Indianapolis" honored her with the Education Breakthrough Award and the Indianapolis Public Schools recognized her with the Asa Hilliard Award. In 2008 she was awarded the Madame C.J. Walker Outstanding Woman of the Year by the Center for Leadership Development.

Charlie Nelms

As the chief executive of North Carolina Central University (NCCU) since 2007, Nelms has emphasized student success and the measures to achieve it. He repurposed the University College to provide academic support and skills training for underprepared freshmen and sophomores. He realigned the budget to better support student achievement, emphasized campus-wide accountability and responsibility and strengthened internal controls and fiscal and administrative infrastructure.

Since his arrival, U.S. News and World Report ranked NCCU as the best public historically black college or university in the country for two years in a row and the Southern Regional Education Board recognized NCCU as one of only 15 bachelor's -- or master's -- level universities across the country that succeeds in graduating more than 45 percent of a student body that is low-wealth and less well-prepared as measured by the results of the SAT.

In 1987, Nelms began a seven-year tenure as chancellor of Indiana University East, and in 1994 he was named chancellor of the University of Michigan at Flint. In 1998, he returned to IU and became IU vice president for institutional development and student affairs. He also was associate dean for academic affairs at IU Northwest from 1978 to 1984.

He holds two degrees from IU: a master's degree in higher education and student affairs (1971) and a doctoral degree in higher education administration (1977).

More about the conference:

The conference will begin with a series of workshops at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 4 at the Indiana Memorial Union, 900 E. Seventh St. The keynote address will begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., and will be followed by a reception and networking opportunity with employers. The conference will continue the next morning at 9 a.m. at the IMU.

The deadline for registration is Monday, Oct. 31. The fee to attend the conference is $75 for university and community professionals and $55 for all college students. Interested students should contact the Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development at 812-855-8850. The fee includes all conference materials, the opening reception, breakfast and lunch. There will be no onsite registration.

To register for the conference and obtain additional information, go to

In past years, a portion of the conference has been oriented toward high school students. New this year will be a special event, the Leadership Symposium, being held a week later, on Friday, Nov. 11. From 125 to 150 students -- primarily those in the seventh to the 10th grades from the Monroe County Community School Corp. -- will attend the event, which will take place from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the IMU.

Shawn K. Woods, a motivational speaker, trainer, coach and entrepreneur from Chicago, will keynote the Empowerment Symposium. The symposium is a collaboration between the Office of Mentoring Services and Leadership Development, Office of Community and School Partnerships, Indiana Commission on the Social Status of Black Males and the Monroe County Community School Corp.

Other conference supporters and co-sponsors include the President's Office, Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity and Multicultural Affairs, School of Education, Residential Programs and Services; 21st Century Scholars Program, School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, Office of Women Affairs, Ivy Tech, the City of Bloomington and the Bloomington Convention and Visitors Bureau.