ATHENS, W.Va. – Two events promoting peace and unity brought various Concord University constituent groups together on the Athens campus the afternoon of April 20. The Unity March and Peace Pole dedication celebrated diversity while encouraging acceptance and mutual respect.
“It shows that we are standing up for peace and solidarity…that we are a peaceful community,”Dr. Manjunath Burdekar, Assistant Professor of Psychology
Dr. Burdekar stated this just moments before he and Concord University President Kendra Boggess led the march through campus.
Dr. Burdekar spearheaded Concord’s efforts and chaired a planning committee consisting of students, campus representatives and community members based on his experience sponsoring Peace Pole projects on other campuses.
The procession of students, faculty, staff, alumni, emeriti officers, community members and University officials started at the Jerry and Jean Beasley Student Center and concluded at the peace monument site located between the Administration Building and the Fine Arts Center. Fellow Concordians joined the marchers there for the Peace Pole dedication ceremony.
Dr. Burdekar explained to the group gathered around the three newly installed Peace Poles that they are “internationally recognized symbols”.
The words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” are written on them in different languages. Among the 24 languages appearing on Concord’s monument are French, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Swedish, Latin, Cherokee and Spanish.
“These languages represent the diversity that exists on this campus,”Dr. Manjunath Burdekar
The late Sharon Griffee, who was a resident of Athens, was recognized posthumously for her contributions to the project and her commitment to peace. A tree is being planted in her memory on campus at University Point, and one of the 10 trees being planted on the African continent as part of the Peace Pole project will remember her.
Another tree for Africa honors Dr. Elizabeth Roth, who currently teaches English at Concord, and one will also recognize the University.
The Unity March and creation of an event shirt that mirrors the languages and message on the Peace Poles were coordinated by the Office of Multicultural Affairs in fulfillment of the Diversity and Equity grant awarded by the Higher Education Policy Commission in July of last year.
President Boggess supported the project and its mission, and the University Foundation assisted in purchasing the Peace Poles.
“Concord celebrates diversity, equity, and inclusion among our students, faculty, and staff. The Peace Poles are a visual reminder that this university is committed to creating an environment where all respectful, individual voices are welcomed,”Dr. Kendra Boggess