Campus celebrates Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday with brunch

Human rights volunteer Ruth Koenig was the keynote speaker for the annual Martin Luther King Peace Breakfast. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Members of the campus community celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, filled the Memorial Union Ballroom Monday morning as the annual Peace Breakfast, now a Peace Brunch, highlighted some of the work campus members are doing to promote and support diversity on campus.

The annual event includes the presentation of two important diversity-related awards on campus, the Phyllis S. Lee Award and the Frances Dancy Hooks Award.

The Phyllis S. Lee Award was created to honor  Lee, the retired founding Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. The award recognizes a member of the OSU community who exemplifies Dr. Lee’s commitment and dedication to social justice and the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year’s winner was Anne Gillies with the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity.

Anne Gillies receives the Phyllis S. Lee Award from OSU President Ed Ray. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Gillies has served on countless committees and programs at OSU since her arrival in 1985, working on issues of social justice and diversity, as well as parity and equity issues. She is described as a tireless advocate who never hesitates to speak out against injustice.

One of her nominators wrote, “I can think of no better candidate who exemplifies the qualities and values that the award was meant to represent.”

The Frances Dancy Hooks Award was created in 1994, when she and Dr. Benjamin Hooks visited Oregon State as keynote speakers for the King celebration. The award recognizes students, staff or faculty who exemplify Frances Dancy Hooks’ work: building bridges across cultures, showing courage in promoting diversity, and someone who proudly “Walks the Talk.” This year’s winner was Wanda Crannell, an adviser with the College of Agricultural Sciences, who is also adviser for the OSU MANNRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) group.

Wanda Crannell received the Frances Dancy Hooks Award during the 2011 MLK Peace Breakfast. (photo: Theresa Hogue)

Crannell has donated many hours to MANNRS over the years, helping secure two grants to provide full scholarship support to students of diverse cultural backgrounds who are interested in agriculture, natural resources and food sciences.

In the nomination, a student praised Crannell’s impact on her community. “Ms. Crannell, unlike many advisers, has been able to cross-cultural socioeconomic and ethnic barriers, fearlessly and successfully.  She is much beloved by her students, so much so that she has a large student-created Facebook group made in her honor entitled “I Wouldn’t Have Graduated Without Wanda Crannell.””

Following the awards presentation, local human rights advocate Ruth Koenig spoke about her time as a Freedom Rider and talked about how to honor Dr. King’s dream today.

~ Theresa Hogue

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