Theme of Fairfield University three-day Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration: A Man of Peace, A Man of Justice


With the theme, "A Man of Peace, A Man of Justice," Fairfield University begins its three-day celebration of the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. with an Interfaith Service and Peace Festival. The theme continues on Thursday with the LaFarge Convocation at 3 p.m. and the Vision Awards Dinner at 6 p.m. Closing out the celebration on Friday, Jan. 25, will be the annual Youth Leadership Workshop for high school and middle school students from Bridgeport and Fairfield, held on the university's campus with Fairfield University student volunteers.

Father J-Glenn Murray, S.J., parochial vicar of St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church in Washington, D.C.; James Smith, editor of the Connecticut Post; and two educators, Michael Tucker, D.B.A., and Sr. Julianna Poole, SSND, Ph.D., will be honored for their commitment to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s vision. Also recognized for their contributions to diversity and understanding on campus will be two students, seniors Peter Otoki of Englewood, N.J., and Frank Fraioli. of Pelham, N.Y.

The opening event, the Interfaith Service, will take place in the Egan Chapel of St. Ignatius Loyola, and will be led by Nasif Muhammad, Imam of the Al-Aziz Islamic Center in Bridgeport; James Prosnit, Rabbi of Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, and Michael Doody, S.J., director of Campus Ministry at Fairfield University. The Peace Festival, which follows in the Barone Campus Center Lobby, will present SAGE, a female jazz ensemble. Both events are free and open to the public.

Father J-Glenn MurrayThe LaFarge Convocation on Thursday will feature a talk by Father J-Glenn Murray, S.J., in the Kelley Theatre of the Quick Center. Fr. Murray will receive the Rev. John LaFarge, S.J. Award for his work on behalf of cultural diversity and spiritual unity. The award is named for Father LaFarge, who worked for the human rights of African-Americans in the early 1900s, long before the Civil Rights Movement emerged.

Father Murray was the principal drafter of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' document, "Plenty Good Room: The Spirit and Truth of African-American Catholic Worship." He has taught at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley as well as Saint Mary's Seminary and University in Cleveland, Ohio and lectures widely in the areas of liturgy and culture.

The annual Martin Luther King Jr. Vision Award Dinner follows the convocation at 6 p.m. in the Barone Campus Center Oak Room. Honored with the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vision Award will be:

James SmithJames Smith, editor of the Connecticut Post, who has spent his 38-year career in journalism defending and advocating for the civil rights of all people. His columns are replete with the lessons of Martin Luther King, Jr., and his themes of justice and peace. The recipient of the American Society of Newspaper Editors Distinguished Writing Award for his columns on the free press, he has served twice as a Pulitzer Prize juror. He is the author of "A Passion for Journalism, A Newspaper Editor Writes to his Readers, a collection of columns on the First Amendment on how editorial decisions are made at newspapers.

Mr. Smith is past president of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors and a member of the board of the Connecticut Council on Freedom of Information. He has worked as a reporter and city editor at The Hartford Courant, managing editor at the dailies in Torrington, New London, and Danbury and executive editor at the Record-Journal in Meriden. He has been in Bridgeport since 2005.

His wife Jacqueline also is a journalist. Jim and Jacky have four grown daughters and two grandsons.

Dr. Michael TuckerDr. Michael Tucker, professor of finance at Fairfield University, whose outreach to the underserved extends to people in the local community and as far away as Central America, Africa and Europe. He has generously advised both small businesses and nonprofit organizations in Bridgeport and was involved in environmental finance before it became a "green revolution."

Dr. Tucker has been one of the key advisers to Fonkoze, Haiti's largest microfinance institution, and has done the same in Nicaragua, where Fairfield's sister institution, Universidad Centro Americana, hosts the largest microfinance institution in the country. He has advised groups in the United States and all over the world regarding microfinance, including in Africa, Iran, Europe, and Canada.

Responding to a query by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Johannesburg about "income generating activities," he investigated the activities in the area, the competition, supply of raw materials, safety of the operation and other factors. The JRS received funding from the UN to further this activity and Dr. Tucker worked with graduate students to determine a reputable microfinance organization in South Africa.

His wife Sharyn Skeeter is a former editor at Essence and Black Elegance magazines and now teaches at the University of Bridgeport and Fairfield University. Michael and Sharyn have a son, Jason, who is in college.

Sister Julianna PooleSister Julianna Poole, SSND, Ed.D., who during a 60-year career in education has been a champion of cultural appreciation and bilingualism. She was an educator in Puerto Rico from 1953 to 1982, teaching at the elementary and high school levels before moving on to serve as principal of Colegio San Agustin in San Juan and later for Academia del Perpetuo Socorro in Miramar.

In 1982 she returned to Connecticut and served as Vice Principal at South Catholic High School in Hartford and Principal of St. Francis School in New Haven.

She joined the faculty of the Graduate School of Education and Allied Professions at Fairfield University in 1988, teaching courses in Bilingual Education and ESL. As a supervisor of student teachers she saw the need to provide Initial Educator Certification in TESOL and Bilingual Education and in 1994 Fairfield University was accredited in these areas. Sister Poole also wrote training grants for bilingual and ESL teachers, resulting in Project BET, Project BELL, and Project TELL (from 1995 to 2006) which provided training of candidates from the Priority Districts of Bridgeport, Norwalk, and Stamford along with teachers from surrounding districts.

In encouraging students to learn about other people and their languages and cultures, Sr. Julianna stresses that the one quality that supercedes all others in living today, is respect.

Peter Otoki Jr. is an international business major who is the AHANA (African American, Hispanic, Asian, Native American) Executive Board Member who advises the Fairfield Board of Trustees on matters of diversity and cultural enrichment programs. As a member of UMOJA, the African American and Caribbean Student Association, he has led discussions and promoted diversity on campus.

Frank Fraioli is a politics major who has worked closely with both the Office of Student Diversity Programs and the Office of Institutional Diversity Initiatives. He serves as president of Alliance, a group for GLBT students and straight allies, which exists to promote diversity and acceptance on campus and raise awareness of GLBT and multicultural issues.

A highlight of the evening will be the announcement of the winners of the Connecticut Post-Fairfield University-sponsored Martin Luther King Jr. Essay Contest for sixth, seventh and eighth graders in Bridgeport.

The Celebration ends on Friday, Jan. 25, when Fairfield University holds its annual Youth Leadership Workshop for high school and middle school students from Bridgeport and Fairfield.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on January 10, 2008

Vol. 40, No. 147