Campus to join community in celebrating the life of Martin Luther King

January 16, 2013

Penn State New Kensington and Hightower Scholars Inc., in conjunction with the local church community, will join together on Tuesday, Jan. 22, for a series of activities that honor the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

"Celebration of Unity" will feature a volunteer fair, a panel discussion, dinner, and the traditional lighting of the unity candle by members of the campus, community, local businesses and neighborhood churches. The daylong celebration concludes with a performance by the August Wilson Center Dance Ensemble. All events will be held at the New Kensington campus on State Route 780 in Upper Burrell Township.

The celebration begins at 11 a.m. with the Nonprofit Organization Volunteer Fair in the lobbies of the Forum Theatre and front entrance. Charitable groups will set up booths to talk about community service options that are available at the organizations. Faith in Action, Habitat for Humanity and Westmoreland County Food Bank are a few of the organizations that will discuss the volunteering options that are available in the local community. The fair runs until 3 p.m.

“The goal of the fair is to provide students and community members with volunteer opportunities by connecting them to local nonprofit organizations,” said Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs at the campus.

For the Unity Day schedule of activities and list of participating nonprofit groups, visit online.

Following the fair at 4:30 p.m. will be a 90-minute panel discussion, “Hunger, Homelessness and Education,” in the theatre. The moderator is Audrey Murrell, associate professor of business administration, psychology, public and international affairs and director of the David Berg Center for Ethics and Leadership and Associate at the University of Pittsburgh. Murrell, who holds a doctorate degree from the University of Delaware, teaches undergraduate, graduate and doctoral classes. She conducts research and works with organizations on strategies to enhance overall effectiveness by utilizing human and social capital. Her work has been published in management and psychology journals as well as book chapters and special issues. Murrell serves as a consultant in the areas of mentoring, organizational effectiveness, teamwork, diversity, and leadership development. Her clients have included Alcoa, IBM, and Heinz.

The panel features Lori Brooks, coordinator for Family and Community Action Partnership (Headstart); Patrick Coulson, director of Westmoreland County Community College in New Kensington; Samuel Goldstrohm, magisterial district judge for Armstrong County and adjunct instructor in administration of justice at the New Kensington campus; Scott McMannis, director of Circles Initiative for Westmoreland Community Action; John Pallone, superintendent of the New Kensington-Arnold School District; and Karen Snair, director of the Allegheny Valley Association of Churches.

The unity fellowship dinner begins at 6 p.m. in the Conference Center and features potluck entrees. Guests are asked to bring a covered dish that can feed 10-15 people. Following dinner is the lighting of the unity candle by members of the campus, community, local businesses and neighborhood churches.

The celebration concludes with the “Diversity of Dance” performance at 7:30 p.m. by the August Wilson Ensemble in the Forum Theatre. The ensemble comprises seven dancers of different backgrounds and styles, under the tutelage of Greer Reed, artistic director of the company. Reed’s signature program features two interpretations, Regality and New Second Line, each designed by a different choreographer. Darrell Grand Moultrie’s Regality explores the regal technicality of movement through energy, passion and artistry. Camille Brown’s New Second Line, inspired by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, commemorates the spirit and culture of the people of New Orleans.

All events are free to the public. Attendees are encouraged to RSVP for the dinner at 724-334-6062.

Diane Hightower, executive director of Hightower Scholars, a nonprofit organization, and Theresa Bonk, director of student affairs at the campus, developed the multimedia program for the 83nd anniversary of King's birth. Kevin Snider, chancellor at the New Kensington campus, delivers the opening remarks. Community service and community partnerships are the cornerstone of Snider’s vision to make the Alle-Kiski Valley an even better place to live, work and learn.

Headquartered in Lower Burrell, Pa., Hightower Scholars assists students with their preparation for a postsecondary education at a college or university. The campus scholarship, Mittie B. Hightower Memorial Scholarship, was established to support a minority student majoring in allied health fields or science programs. The current recipient is DeAndra Barron, a nursing student.

The federal holiday in honor of the slain civil rights leader is Monday, Jan. 21. There will be no classes at Penn State New Kensington that day. However, the campus will be open and staffed.

For more information, call 724-334-6032. For the Unity Day schedule of activities and list of participating non-profit groups, visit


  • Audrey Murrell moderates the panel discussion “Hunger, Homelessness and Education.”

    IMAGE: Bill Woodard

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated January 16, 2013