Using a pan-African lens, the Black Cultural Center seeks to counteract persistent campus-wide and global anti-blackness. The Black Cultural Center works to holistically enrich, educate, and advocate for students, faculty, and staff through Black centered programming, culturally
This new center will enact this mission through intentional programmatic learning outcomes, envisioned to build a sense of belonging and community at the U, with the goal of increasing the recruitment and retention of Black students, faculty, and staff. Supporting academic and cultural activities, this center is designed to promote and explore Blackness, equity, justice, and other progressive social change initiatives on campus and within the larger African diasporic community. The broader public mission of the Center is marked by a commitment to community activism and collaboration.
Our Advisors and Staff
Interim Associate VP for Equity & Diversity
Executive Director for Diverse Student Advocacy
Sill Center 126
Administrative Assistant to Dr. Smith
Groups & Associations
Black Student Union (BSU)
The Mission of BSU is to foster a sense of community among all students of the African Diaspora at the University of Utah. Our goal is to simulate the intellectual, political, cultural, and social growth of all Utah students. We seek to educate ourselves and the larger Utah community, in hopes that awareness will spark action and ignite change in our communities. In addition, the Black Student Union shall serve as a resource to all other groups on campus, no matter sex, creed, age, and sexual identity.
Advisor: Portia Anderson
Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA)
The Black Graduate Student Association, (BGSA) U of U was founded in 2009 to support the Black graduate and professional students of the University of Utah.
Black Faculty & Staff Association
The Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) is dedicated to promoting the full inclusion of Black faculty, staff, and students at the University of Utah. Our mission is to advocate progress through the promotion of critical dialogue, networking, recruitment and retention of Black individuals, professional development, mentoring, and cultural programs that emphasize the traditions of the African-American community.
Programs & Initiatives
African American Doctoral Studies Initiative
The African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative provides a scholarly community and educational services for African American doctoral students at the University of Utah. These competitive scholarships are awarded annually to full-time African American doctoral students who demonstrate significant potential for leadership, scholarship, and active engagement in their respective disciplines and who also demonstrate a commitment to understanding Black life, history, and culture in the United States. The Initiative prepares African American doctoral students for academic, industry, and entrepreneurial careers through faculty mentoring, advising and professional development.
Principal Investigator: Paula Smith, Ph.D.
Welcome Black orients new Black students, staff, and faculty to a Black/African-American community at the University of Utah. This event connects individuals to people, resources, and support services in one place. The three major Black organizations: the Black Student Union, the Black Graduate Student Association, and the Black Faculty & Staff Association introduce their leadership to the community so that individuals recognize names and faces they can go to for support. The goal for the future is that this event will expand to include a component for student support services to be available to share resources, to incorporate the African organizations on campus, and welcome new students and families prior to classes beginning.
Black History Month
Black History Month has historically been a time of the year that has been organized and celebrated in silos at the University of Utah. If Black Lives truly matter, it is imperative that this celebration and acknowledgment of Blacks and individuals of African descent be institutionalized. We envision the Director of the Black Cultural Center facilitating the institutionalization of this month, collaborate with entities that provide programming during Black History Month throughout campus and work with the Office for Equity & Diversity to market these events. The Black Student Union will continue to decorate the display case in the Union as they have traditionally done. Furthermore, all Black organizations on campus will continue to contribute to educational, professional development, and socio-cultural programming that takes place during Black History Month, but this removes the large workload that the Black Student Union has held the last few years.
Black Affair/Graduation Celebration
Black Affair was a traditional event that was organized at the University of Utah to unite, gather and recognize excellence within the Black community. In spring 2018, the Black Student Union brought this event back to the university and expanded the scope to incorporate the community. This event is held at the end of the year to recognize the work of BSU, honor three individuals for their leadership, and to recognize Black graduates; undergraduate, graduate and professional students. This is a time to recognize the hard work that the Black community has put forth to make progress and to acknowledge the scholarship from Black students at the University of Utah.
Black Programming Series Committee
The Black Programming Series Committee was formed in summer 2017, to unite the three Black organizations on campus with Black students, staff, and faculty that work together to prepare a calendar of Black specific programming; academic development, professional development, and socio-cultural, to engage and retain Black students. This committee provides an opportunity for collaboration to occur so that individuals, organizations, and offices do not have to work in silos. The Black Cultural Center would engage in Black specific programming, so this would allow for individuals and allies across campus to think critically about how our programming and practices allow Black students to persist and graduate from the institution since the Black population is one of the smallest communities at the University of Utah.
The Black Faculty & Staff Association created a spotlight lecture series in 2016, where faculty and staff have the opportunity to share their research and best practices within the field of higher education. This event occurs two times each semester, and is open to all students, staff, and faculty. Each of the lectures has had 20 – 45 people in attendance. The spotlight lecture series provides an opportunity for this program to expand and allow students, staff, and faculty to share their research and practices with one another. The value of this programming is that it exposes students to a community of individuals that support the academic mission of the institution, and can provide them with connections to individuals that share similar research interests. Furthermore, this program exposes students, staff, and faculty to Black specific topics and issues that can relate to and inform the community.
Writing Retreats and Bootcamps
The African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative and the Black Graduate Student Association facilitate writing retreats and bootcamps for graduate students throughout the academic year. The purpose of the writing retreats is to educate, train, and provide a space for graduate students to enhance their writing skills and move through the writing process in community. When graduate students are provided the opportunity to engage in the writing process for their academic programs, they are exposed to writing and research from a variety of disciplines. The writing process trains graduate students on how to enhance their writing, methods for producing their writing, and how to think critically through their research. The graduate process can be lonely particularly for graduate students who have completed their coursework and are working on their own through their dissertation writing, so these retreats create an opportunity for graduate students to collaborate and support one another.
Utah Black Chamber of Commerce
The mission of the Utah Black Chamber of Commerce is to be the key resource for African American and other minority as well as veterans and women-owned small businesses throughout the State of Utah and nationwide. Among other things, they facilitate opportunities, develop effective networking methods and share key information for African-American and other minority-owned businesses. They serve as a liaison between our small business community and the State, and federal government and business community at large. The Utah Black Chamber of Commerce is the premier organization that advocates for the economic needs of all the above mentioned classified businesses. They believe through developing the necessary partnerships and alliances with government agencies and large corporations, the UBCC will continue to empower and help strengthen the foundation of minority-owned businesses while providing various educational platforms to increase their growth.
NAACP Salt Lake Branch
NAACP Salt Lake Branch is a civil rights organization based in Salt Lake City, Utah. They focus on civil rights issues surrounding discrimination against United States citizens while providing college and youth scholarships that help members avoid the traps of discriminatory loans and lending practices.
Madina Masjid of Salt Lake City
The Madina Masjid is a non-profit religious organization devoted to the teaching of the Islamic religion based on the Shafi Madhab and Ahlu-Sunnah wal-Jamacah.
Calvary Baptist Church
Calvary Baptist Church is a diverse congregation with members from all over the Wasatch Front Community. Their ministries have been an active part of the downtown Salt Lake Community since 1892.