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Keynote speakers named for MLK celebration

Nov. 21, 2006

KALAMAZOO--A dynamic motivational speaker and innovative educator has been selected to kick off a communitywide celebration sponsored by Western Michigan University, the Northside Ministerial Alliance and city of Kalamazoo honoring the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

This is the fifth year that WMU and the ministerial alliance have teamed up to honor the slain civil rights leader. The city has joined the partnership for the first time this year. A focal point of the collaboration will again be the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, which this year inaugurates events honoring King at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, in Miller Auditorium and features an address by keynote speaker Dr. Zenobia Lawrence Hikes. A keynote speaker also has been named for a community event at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 21, at Galilee Baptist Church in Kalamazoo. That gathering will feature remarks by Bishop Canute B. Blake, of the Malton Church of God, Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, while a long list of other special events is planned across the WMU campus.

An additional highlight takes place on Monday, Jan. 15, with the MLK Community-Wide Day of Service in partnership with the city of Kalamazoo and area schools. In addition to numerous service projects, the day will include a luncheon with presentation of the Dr. Lewis Walker Award for Social Justice and a march to the city's MLK Park for a wreath-laying ceremony. The march will include WMU and Kalamazoo College students, as well as university and community officials.

Hikes, who will address an audience in WMU's Miller Auditorium, has been featured as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator to audiences nationally and internationally. An exceptional presenter, Hikes specializes in student success and leadership and professional development for universities, corporations and organizations.

Hikes serves as vice president for student affairs at Virginia Tech, where she provides leadership oversight for 15 university departments. She is responsible for an annual budget of $82 million and 2,000 employees and works collaboratively with teams university-wide in creating an invigorated college experience. She is the first African American female to serve as vice president in Virginia Tech's history.

Previously, she served as the vice president for student affairs and dean of students at Spelman College in Atlanta. Hikes played an invaluable role in continuing Spelman's legacy of educating

women and, as the founder of the Women of Excellence Leadership Series, worked passionately to prepare students to distinguish themselves and live their lives with purpose.

Prior to Spelman, Hikes served in admissions and student life at the University of Delaware and in the field of public relations in Okinawa, Japan. Driven by her background in enrollment management and student affairs, she has extensively researched and developed a successful race-specific recruitment and retention model for African American students. Her research on student recruitment and retention, maximizing student success and first-generation college admissions has appeared in leading education journals. She has provided expert commentary to CNN, NBC News, CBS News, Fox News and national television and radio stations regarding the images of women in hip hop music and its impact on society.

Bishop Blake, whose remarks will be featured on Jan. 21, is currently senior pastor at Malton Church of God and has been district overseer for the Brampton District of Churches for the past six years. He formerly was superintendent of the Church of God in Canada from 1994-99 and administrative bishop of the Eastern Canada Region from 1994 to 2000, becoming the first black man in the history of the Church of God in Canada to hold those positions.

Blake was born in Jamaica and is a second generation Church of God member. He gave his life to Christ at the early age of 11 and has remained committed to his call to serve.

He is an ordained bishop of the Church of God, who has successfully labored in that ministry for over 35 years. For 19 of those years, he served as senior pastor of the Ottawa Church of God. He also served concurrently as the district overseer for the Ottawa/Montreal churches for over 12 years. He has preached throughout the Caribbean, South America, Europe, United States and Canada and has taught short credited courses both in local churches and at the International Bible College in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada.

The Jan. 14 convocation launches a two-week, communitywide observation Jan. 14-26 honoring King's birthday. A list of special events offered by WMU departments, programs and student groups will be announced later and posted on the MLK Web site at www.wmich.edu/mlk.

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, (269) 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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