Historic weekend includes Black Cultural Center groundbreaking

Artist rendering

The second weekend of October will see several historic firsts on the University of Oregon campus, including a ceremonial groundbreaking for a new $2.5 million Black Cultural Center.

The free public event will take place at 1:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, at the site of the new building at the corner of 15th Avenue and Villard Street. It will mark the end of the design phase of the project, which was a direct response to a demand made by the Black Student Task Force following a 2015 demonstration.

Programming for the center will be funded through an allocation from the Presidential Fund for Excellence. The 2,700-square-foot facility also has been widely embraced by donors, who have provided $1.66 million in gifts to date, including a $1 million gift from Nancy and Dave Petrone. All told, the project has received 167 gifts from 134 donors.

“We have focused on designing a facility that maximizes flexibility to accommodate a wide array of activities,” said Kevin Marbury, vice president for student life. “Designed to serve as a home base for academic and social activities for black students, it will also serve as a portal of black culture to all members of the community. We hope everyone will join us for the groundbreaking ceremony and take advantage of this great space for many years to come.”

Designed by Architecture Building Culture in collaboration with The Maxine Studio, the center also will showcase artwork that celebrates black heritage.

Also this weekend, the Black Student Task Force is partnering with the UO Black Male Alliance to present the Black Student Convocation from 4-6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 in the Woodruff Gym in Gerlinger Hall. At the event, black faculty cluster hires will be honored and recognized, as well as students in the Umoja Pan-African Scholars academic residential community and other individuals and groups from the UO and the community.

Oct. 12 will also be the launch of the 2017-18 UO African-American Workshop and Lecture Series. Angela Rye, a political strategist and commentator, will speak at 10 a.m. in Beall Hall in the Frohnmayer Music Building  Her talk is also part of the Black Alumni Reunion.

Rye is principal and CEO of Impact Strategies, a political advocacy firm in the nation's capital. She is a CNN political commentator and NPR political analyst. She has been featured as an influential lawyer and advocate by several publications and outlets from Marie Claire to Ebony and the Washington Post.

A prominent strategist, Rye has offered on-air commentary for several media outlets, including BET, CNN, NBC, HBO, ABC, MSNBC and TV One. She has discussed issues ranging from political campaigns to complex legislation and administration policies that have long-term implications nationally and internationally.

In addition, the first UO Black Alumni Reunion will take place Oct. 11-14.

The weekend promises great alumni engagement through a series of events, including:

  • Welcome reception.
  • Campus tours.
  • An alumni, student, faculty and staff networking event.
  • Tailgating prior to the Oregon vs. Washington game.
  • After game party
  • Soul Sunday Brunch featuring John Gainer and the UO Gospel Ensemble Reunion Choir.

Alumni are encouraged to return to the Eugene campus and see all that has changed.