The Lawrence A. Dowdy Multicultural Center Kente Ceremony is an event which recognizes, acknowledges, emphasizes, and celebrates the educational achievement of multicultural graduates through a heritage tradition.
In the fall of 1992, the former Director of Affirmative Action, Dr. Franklin Simpson and Jerome "Skip" Hutson, Director of Minority Affairs met to discuss the development of a program to honor and celebrate the achievements of multicultural students who would be graduating from West Chester University in May, 1993. As a result of this and other meetings with Dr. Christian Awuyah and Dr. C. James Trotman, the idea of a Kente Commencement Ceremony was born. The first ceremony was held on Saturday, May 15th, 1993 at the Newman Center after the University commencement exercises. Thirty graduating students participated in the program and received their kente stoles.
As the annual spring ceremony grew, it moved from the Newman Center, to the Sykes Student Union Theater, to the Ballrooms, and finally to its present location, the Emilie K. Asplundh Concert Hall. Now held the evening or afternoon before the University Commencement, the ceremony has grown to include more than 100 graduates at the end-of-the year celebration. In 1996, a December ceremony was added to accommodate and honor those mid-year graduates.
That very first ceremony was entitled A Family Affair and that theme has persisted throughout the years. During past programs, family members and friends of the graduates have had an opportunity to honor the students and present them their kente stoles. Our graduates have also used the occasion to acknowledge and thank those who have helped and supported them along the way. Now recognized as a "True West Chester University Tradition", the ceremony continues to motivate and inspire younger students.
To date, more than 1600 WCU graduates have participated in the Kente Commencement Ceremony and have proudly worn their stoles while receiving their degrees at the University Commencement.