MLK “Dream Together” Celebration features student performances and DREAM award presentation to Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Joanne Smith
Dr. Joanne Smith, vice president for Student Affairs at Texas State University, was presented the inaugural DREAM award from the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion (SDI) during the 36th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemoration Celebration held on January 21, 2020.
Hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members gathered in the LBJ Student Center for the event, which featured dozens of student performers including the band BluMoon, singer Chris Teague, university choral group VocaLibre, the Clear Vision Praise Team, as well as a poetry reading by Breana Miller and an art exhibit titled “Invictus” by Chinedu Chukuka, known as Chino Angles. The event kicked off with a silent march from Old Main to LBJSC, led by students from the Pan African Action Committee alongside Texas State President Denise Trauth and Student Government President Corey Benbow.
Junior psychology major Destiny Whitaker, a member of the MLK Commemoration Celebration planning committee, introduced the DREAM award and Smith.
“In her tenure at Texas State, Dr. Joanne Smith has been a steadfast and transformative leader in student affairs, promoting student success by recognizing all facets of the student experience,” Whitaker said. “Her compassion and courage have helped lay the groundwork that will continue to serve as a guide towards creating inclusive spaces, practices, and policies that allow for educational dreams to become reality. Like Dr. King, with her culture of care philosophy, Dr. Smith has placed our common humanity at the forefront of her practice in post-secondary education.”
Each year, the DREAM award will be bestowed during the MLK Commemorative Celebration to an individual or team “who has encouraged transformational change within the systems and environments in which they operate in every day,” Whitaker said.
In her remarks during the event, Smith recalled how she was inspired by the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Dr. King was committed to peace, non-violent social change, and equality for all. As I have progressed in my life, I came to realize that education is truly the great unifier—no one could take your knowledge away from you and there is a certain kind of peace and unity that comes when you are learning and interacting with each other as scholars. We can all honor his legacy by applying his principles to our own lives. As students, you can honor him by committing to make positive change in your life and positive change in the lives of others while here at Texas State,” Smith said.
Smith came to Texas State University in 1992 as director of residence life. In 2000, she began serving as the associate vice president for student affairs and director of enrollment management. She was named vice president for student affairs in 2005. Smith was one of the founding faculty members for the student affairs master’s program and continues to work with the program. Smith has been actively working in student affairs for more than 40 years and will be retiring at the end of the semester.
In closing her speech, Smith shared with the audience, “As I retire at the end of this school year, my dream for Texas State is that all of you will continue honoring the legacy and dream of Dr. King and that you will work together to always bring love, unity and positive change to this campus community. We owe it to the work and dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” Read Dr. Smith’s full speech
The MLK Commemoration Celebration also featured remarks from Texas State President Denise Trauth, Dr. Sherri Benn, Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Director of Student Diversity and Inclusion, and student Jonathan Ashe.
Students who served on the MLK Planning Committee included: Johnathan Ashe, Evan Bookman, Constunce Brantley, Gabri Brown, Liz Castañeda, Mark Chavez, Makia Golliday, Andrew Gonzales, Elizabeth Gonzales, Seneca Green, Naiyah Hodge, Ashley Jiles, Dedrick Johnson, Brianna Kelley, Mohammad Khan, Jasmine LeBlanc, Najha Marshall, Marcus McNeil, Breana Miller, Chanel Newton, Alexis Patterson, Emari Shelvin, TeraLynn Steele, Brittany Thomas, Marquiese Thompson, Diego Tovar, Keuna Webster, Destiny Whitaker, and Christina Willis.