CONTACT: Lindsey Byars
Office of Advancement
PO Box 1000, Athens, WV 24712
CONCORD UNIVERSITY PROMOTES PEACE AND CELEBRATES DIVERSITY WITH MARCH AND MOMUMENT DEDICATION
ATHENS, W.Va.—Concord University will hold a Peace Pole dedication and Unity March on April 20. The event is open to the public. Participants will gather—socially distanced and masked—in front of the Jerry and Jean Beasley Student Center beginning at 3 p.m. and will then march to the Peace Pole site, located between the Fine Arts and Administration buildings.
Peace Poles are internationally recognized symbols that bear the phrase “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in different languages. Concord University’s monument to peace represents 24 different languages and is the fruition of many months of planning.
Dr. Manjunath Burdekar, assistant professor of Psychology, spearheaded the project and the planning committee, which consisted of representatives from various campus groups, the student body, and the surrounding community. This is Dr. Burdekar’s third Peace Pole project. Before coming to Concord University, he sponsored monuments at Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire and Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts.
“The idea is to create a ripple effect of peace and to connect people across the world,” Dr. Burdekar said. “With the violence in our world today, we wanted a visible sign of solidarity, to show that Concord University stands against those acts.”
According to WorldPeace.org, there are more than 250,000 Peace Poles in every country in the world dedicated as monuments to peace.
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 fulfilment of the Diversity and Equity grant awarded by the Higher Education Policy Commission in July of last year. Nancy Ellison, director of that office, said, “The goal of the program is to expand diversity awareness and promote not only acceptance, but also a celebration of those differences.”
President Kendra 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,” said President Boggess.
Sharon Griffee, a community member who served on the planning committee, passed before the poles could be installed. The group will dedicate a tree to her memory.