Director of URI’s Multicultural Center earns high honor from Urban League

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Melvin Wade to receive President’s Recognition of Excellence Award


KINGSTON, R.I. – June 24, 2010 – As he closes in on four decades of diversity work in higher education, the University of Rhode Island’s Melvin Wade will be honored by the Urban League of Rhode Island.


Wade, director of URI’s Multicultural Center, will receive the President’s Recognition of Excellence Award during the Urban League of Rhode Island’s annual celebration Thursday, June 24 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick.


“This recognition from one of the premier civil rights and civic engagement organizations in the state and the nation will enable the URI Multicultural Center to increase the visibility of its programs, create better workforce strategies, and expand the audiences for URI Diversity Week and the URI Diversity Awards beyond the campus community to the diverse people and cultures of Rhode Island,” Wade said.


Wade has directed the URI Multicultural Center since 1994. He collaborates with Paul De Mesquita, Mailee Kue and Judy Van Wyk to develop URI Diversity Week, which in 2009 featured 66 events in six days and attracted more than 5,800 participants, mostly from the URI campus community. With the support of Lifespan, URI Diversity Week is becoming a cultural, educational, and workforce-building resource to the state of Rhode Island, not just the URI campus community.


Another of Wade’s goals has been the creation and infusion of explicit professional standards for multicultural practitioner-scholars. He has served as a co-founder and first president of the Multicultural College Administrator Association (MCAA), an organization of multicultural officials in Rhode Island higher education, which was established in 1996. He also is a co-founder of the New England Higher Education Resource Center’s (NERCHE) Multicultural Affairs Think Tank, a professional development vehicle for multicultural directors, which he has coordinated since its founding in 2005.


In his 38-year career of diversity work in higher education, Wade also has directed cultural centers at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Vassar College and Yale University. He co-founded the Black Studies Department at the University of Nebraska at Omaha with his ex-wife, and he taught Black Studies at the University of Texas at Austin.