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First Friday Lecture Set for Homecoming Weekend


First Friday Lecture Set for Homecoming Weekend

Dr. Arlette Miller Smith and Dr. Rick DeJesús-Rueff will kick off the 2013-14 First Friday Lecture Series on Friday, September 27, as part of the 2013 Homecoming Weekend. The lecture will take place in Coleman Chapel in Murphy Hall at 10:00 a.m., and will include a 9:00 a.m. mass followed by breakfast.

Miller Smith, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies, Co-director of the African American Studies Program, and faculty member in the Executive Leadership (Ed.D.) Program; and DeJesús-Rueff, Vice President, Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives, will present, “50 Years After the March: A Look Back at the Civil Rights Movement in America.”

In the lecture, the speakers will examine the call for freedom that characterized the Modern Civil Rights Movement, resulting in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 1966 Supreme Court decision in the Loving vs. Virginia case. DeJesús-Rueff and Miller Smith will explore the impact of other civil rights events from the 1960s, including the Birmingham Campaign and Montgomery Bus Boycott. In addition, they will share personal memories from the movement.

Miller Smith, a native of Vicksburg, Mississippi, is the founding and immediate past Director of the College’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and Diversity Programs. Her academic work and advocacy efforts center on African American literature and culture; the intersection of the raced, gendered, classed, and artistic voice of African American women; the written production of 19th century African American women writers; the mobilization of socio-political movements in African American life, particularly the colored club women’s movement and the modern civil rights movement; and  the impact of the exterior (public) life on the interior lives of African American women, as well as the divergent convergence of the experiences of African American and White suffragists. Her poetry has been featured on NPR, CNN, and the Democrat and Chronicle, and is also included in the book, “Go, Tell Michelle: African American Women Write to the New First Lady.” She is also the founder and executive artistic director of AKOMA, Rochester’s African American Women’s gospel choir, whose 45 member sister-roster attend various local denominations.

DeJesús-Rueff joined Fisher as Dean of Students during the summer of 1997. In September 2008, he was promoted to Vice President for Student Affairs and Diversity Initiatives. Before joining Fisher, he was Associate Dean of Students at the Philadelphia College of Textiles & Sciences, now known as Philadelphia University. His professional interests include leadership development for undergraduate students, diversity and inclusion issues in higher education, and non-violent conflict resolution. In his role at the College, he supervises many aspects of non-academic life at Fisher, including the offices of Campus Life, Multicultural Affairs, Residential Life, Student Conduct, and the Wellness Center. He also shares responsibility for supervising dining services and the College store. Additionally, DeJesús-Rueff serves as the Academic Director for the First Generation Scholars Program, teaches an introductory class on leadership development for First Generation Scholars, and oversees seminars which they complete during each semester of their College enrollment. He also teaches a class on non-violent leadership and change for the Peace and Social Justice Studies Minor. Outside of Fisher, he serves on the boards of the Center for Youth of Monroe County as well as the Center for Teen Empowerment in Rochester. He is a member of the Circulo Latino of the United Way of Rochester.

The First Friday Lecture Series is designed for individuals who are interested in hearing learned perspectives on a variety of topics from members of the St. John Fisher College community.

Parking is available in Lot X and V near Murphy Hall. For more information about the lecture series or to register for the lecture, please call (585) 385-7350 or email

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