Purdue Northwest Continues 26-year Martin Luther King Jr. Day Tradition with First Virtual Program

December 14, 2020

Purdue University Northwest invited the Northwest Indiana community to celebrate diversity and inclusion through the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. by participating in a virtual event from 8:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. Karen Bishop Morris, associate professor of English at PNW, delivered the keynote presentation during this event.

“The MLK Committee, comprised of 10 community members, collaborated to plan and implement this annual event to reflect on Dr. King’s mission and vision,” said Laura Odom, associate director of PNW’s Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.

Sondra Craig, MLK committee co-chair reflected, “The event also served as a call to action of working together for building harmony as we endeavor to fulfill Dr. King’s dream. This year we had to pivot due to the pandemic, and we are proud to offer this virtual program to the entire community.”

View The Virtual Program


Karen Bishop MorrisKaren Bishop Morris, an associate professor of English at Purdue University Northwest, has served in numerous roles including interim dean of the Honors College; chair, department of English; director of First-Year Writing; and director of the University Writing Center.

Morris earned her Ph.D. in English/Rhetoric and Composition from Purdue University. She has served as a board member or fundraising strategist for many national and local nonprofit organizations. These include Girls Write Now (vice chair – New York), The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (strategic alliances – Midwest Region), Careers through Culinary Arts Program (executive director – Chicago), and Share Foundation with the Handicapped (director of development – Rolling Prairie).

Morris focuses her academic energy on building innovative programs, implementing high impact practices for first-generation students, and strengthening connections between higher education and its various stakeholders. She has been recognized for her influence around issues of engagement, inclusion, and philanthropy, and is a frequently invited speaker. Her current service includes membership on the 2020-21 Purdue Equity Task Force, St. Catherine Hospital board, Laini Fluellen Charities Pink Tie Committee, and as a reviewer for the Susan G. Komen Foundation – Chicago.

Other program highlights include:

  • Wendel McCollum, associate superintendent of Michigan City Area Schools, will serve as emcee.
  • Thomas L. Keon, Chancellor of Purdue Northwest, will share opening remarks.
  • Vanessa Allen-McCloud, president and CEO of the Urban league of Northwest Indiana, will be the vocalist.

In lieu of donations of needed items collected at the in-person events held on the PNW campuses in previous years, the planning committee kindly suggests making a donation to a charity or organization of your choice.

Event Sponsors

Premier Sponsors

  • Horizon Bank
  • NiSource Charitable Foundation
  • Purdue University Northwest Creating a Culture of Inclusion Team

Gold Sponsors

  • Michigan City Human Rights Commission
  • Michigan City La Porte Convention and Visitors Bureau

Silver Sponsors

  • 1st Source Bank
  • Sinai Temple
  • Unity Foundation of La Porte County

Bronze Sponsors

  • La Porte County Herald-Dispatch
  • La Porte County NAACP
  • Life Changes, LLC
  • Michigan City Commission on the Social Status of African American Males

For more information, visit www.pnw.edu/mlk-celebration. To request a disability-related accommodation for this event contact Laura Odom, associate director of the Office of Equity, Diversity & Inclusion, at odoml@pnw.edu.