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Office of External Communications

Houston, TX 77204-5017 Fax: 713.743.8199

March 29, 2005

Contact: Marisa Ramirez
713.743.8152 (office)
713.204.9798 (cell)

Cornel West Steps into the Spotlight for 10th Annual Underwood Lecture

(HOUSTON, March 29, 2005)— Social justice. Economic parity. Racial equity. Princeton University’s Cornel West brings his observations on race, justice and democracy to the Graduate School of Social Works’ 10th Annual
David M. Underwood Lecture, 6:30 p.m., Thursday, April 28, in the Cullen Performance Hall.

The lecture, presented by the GSSW’s American Humanics program, is free and open to the public.

“Cornel West is probably the most prominent voice today on the topic of race relations and social justice,” Margaret O’Donnell, director of the GSSW’s American Humanics program said. “His words fit with the mission of the Underwood Lecture to inform and inspire.”

West is currently the Class of 1943 University Professor of Religion at Princeton. One of America’s most provocative public intellectuals, West has won numerous awards, including the American Book Award, and has received more than 20 honorary degrees. He received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his master’s and doctorate from Princeton. His books “Race Matters” and “Democracy Matters” were best sellers.

“American Humanics is dedicated to preparing individuals from diverse backgrounds for prominent roles in the non-profit world,” O’Donnell said. “Their work will empower communities and the people who live in them. Dr. West’s message of community empowerment supports this goal.”

West’s outspoken nature placed him at odds with Harvard President Lawrence Summers in 2002 when West was serving as professor of African American studies. He drew criticism for his post 9-11 comments about an “imperial America,” for his participation in a hip-hop CD which he called “danceable educational” and for serving on the presidential exploratory committee for activist Al Sharpton. West also contributed his acting skill and religious thoughts to the recent “Matrix” movie trilogy. Controversy surrounded his involvement with these projects, playing a role in West’s widely reported decision to leave his position at Harvard to join the faculty at rival Princeton.

The American Humanics Program is part of an alliance of colleges, universities and non-profit organizations preparing undergraduate and post baccalaureate students for work in the non-profit field. Students move on to jobs in volunteer management, fund development, public relations or program planning. Students also have access to internship and job opportunities.

The Underwood Lecture has presented many prominent speakers and authors, including Jonathan Kozol and Barbara Ehrenreich.

For additional information contact Margaret O’Donnell at 713.743.8137.

For more information about the UH David M. Underwood chapter of the American Humanics Program, please visit http://www.uh.edu/cysp/index.html

For more information on the UH Graduate School of Social Work, please visit http://www.sw.uh.edu/

About the University of Houston

The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.

For more information about UH visit the university’s ‘Newsroom’ at www.uh.edu/admin/media/newsroom.