CPSPE Supports Education at the Black Male Summit


This weekend marked the 11th annual Black Male Summit at The University of Akron, a crossroads of leadership and empowerment for black men. A disproportionate number of black men do not graduate from four-year colleges, and the summit aims to prevent this by preparing black students for success. The emphasis on education and excellence is very familiar to the staff and faculty of CPSPE, many of whom attended the summit.

Penelope Pinkston (pictured left), Assistant Manager of Polymer Training, Dr. Ruel McKenzie, Assistant Professor of Polymer Engineering, and Dr. Colleen Pugh (pictured right), Chair of the Department of Polymer Science were all in attendance, among other staff, faculty, and many students. The event lasted two days and featured many prestigious speakers including record-breaking pilot and educator Barrington Irving, award-winning TV anchor Ramona Robinson, and businessman and educator Mr. Stedman Graham. Speakers addressed issues in education, culture, and economics, addressing the theme “A Call to Action: Empowerment and Leadership.”

“It was so powerful,” said first-time attendee Penelope Pinkston after witnessing one of the many lectures offered at the conference. “Education is so powerful… you need exposure so that you can grow.”

Growth through education is a common thread throughout the weekend. During a luncheon on Friday several students were awarded with significant scholarships, which bring forth opportunities in education for those who otherwise may not be able to afford it.

The Black Male Summit can benefit faculty and staff just as much as it does students. Dr. Ruel McKenzie, a recent addition to the UA family, said of the event: “I’m from a tiny island in the Caribbean Sea, and being able to advance black culture and bring awareness to the deficiency and improving opportunities for black people, especially young black men, I think is really important. My being here is in support of that. Me being new, hopefully I can advance these opportunities. I’m just here to really learn what we’re doing to address those issues and how I can be a part of that.”

At the luncheon, UA President Matthew Wilson spoke about the importance of the event. “The Black Male Summit is a rich tradition here at the University of Akron. It’s a great way to reach out and really show our commitment to not only black males, but black females, and making sure that they have access to education,” said Wilson. “This is the second time that we’ve done it this year, and seeing the turnout between dignitaries, academic officials, educators, students, it’s really encouraging that we’re on the right track. There’s still a lot we can do, but we look forward to the future.”