Celebrating Black History Month

PROFESSOR TONISHA LANE ON THE TOPIC OF INCLUSION — Dr. Lane used research with underrepresented students of color in higher education to address inclusion and create dialogue on college campuses in honor of Black History Month. (Tonisha B. Lane)


Black History Month is an annual celebration of the achievements made by African Americans and a time for recognizing the central role of blacks in the history of the United States. Black History Month takes place twice a year in both February and October. Hope College wraps up this Black History Month alongside Professor Tonisha Lane, who was the keynote speaker at the 2018 Black History Month Lecture. The event is sponsored by Hope’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion in partnership with Student Development, Black Student Union (BSU), WISE and GROW. The lecture took place on Tuesday in Hope’s most recent facility, the Jim and Martie Bultman Student Center Auditorium.

Hope is honored to host Lane, as she has achieved great tasks and been commended. Lane has received numerous rewards for her research, which she presented at many considerable conferences. Her rewards include a National Center for Institutional Diversity (NCID), Emerging Diversity Scholar and others.

Lane is currently an assistant professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs (HESA) in the departments of Leadership, Counseling, Adult, Career and Higher Education. She received her PhD in Higher, Adult and Lifelong Education with a graduate certificate in Urban Education from Michigan State University.

Black History Month began with historian Carter G. Woodson and other notorious African-Americans, stemming from “Negro History Week” and developing into a nationally recognized and designated month since 1976. Other countries have also designated months to celebrating black history. Hope’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion seeks to continue the celebration of black history and approach new ways of developing systems of inclusiveness and diversity through visiting lectures, research, and experiences to create new and needed ideas.

The lecture “Black Students in Higher Education: Disparities, Challenges and Triumphs” highlighted statistics, research and scholarships related to the state of black students in higher education. Lane addressed topics of participation and achievement of black college students and contemporary issues such as implicit bias, campus climate, racial micro-aggressions, stereotype threats and a sense of belonging.

Lane has involved herself in numerous administrative and leadership roles. She took part in multicultural engineering programs, TRIO events, MSU’s Neighborhood initiative and the U.S Department of Education’s Office of Post-Secondary Education. Dr. Lane’s research predominantly examines the issues of diversity, equity and inclusions in relation to post-secondary education. She focuses her research toward the experiences and outcomes of minorities and underrepresented groups in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Lane takes time on her secondary research, which explores the many influences of blacks in higher education.

By utilizing qualitative methodologies, Lane has been able to explore access and success for under-regarded students of color in STEM and other programs. Lane strives to understand the nuances and complexities of participation and persistence in these STEM fields and develop new models for explaining such phenomena. Lane recently served on the national Black Doctrine Women Study (BDWS).

Lane approached Hope’s campus with her research and experiences, aiming her scholarship to advance inclusive and transformative policies and practices. President Voskuil commented at the beginning of his term his hopes for more diversity and acceptance. “In my return to Hope, I really like, though it is not as high as I think it should be, the number of racial ethnic students has increased. I love programs that encourage that. Betty and I really want to get involved in those programs,” referring to the Summer Bridge and Phelps Scholars programs at Hope. The Center for Diversity and Inclusion aims to produce more lectures like Lane’s and create more inclusive dialogues on campus.

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