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Eastman School of Music to dedicate the George Walker Center for Equity and Inclusion

 Composer and pianist, George Walker
Frank Schramm
Eastman School of Music
Composer and pianist, George Walker

A new center for equity and inclusion is being dedicated this Saturday at the Eastman School of Music.

The center is named for composer George Walker. He was the first Black winner of the Pulitzer prize in Music, among many other accomplishments – and he received several degrees from the Eastman School of Music.

This center being named in his honor will be a gathering place for students, particularly affinity groups like the Eastman Black Students Union. It will also be the “home base” for the school’s newly appointed Dean of Equity and Inclusion, Crystal Sellers Battle, who will start her work at Eastman this summer.

“Because that is a place that is really sometimes lacking at our institutions, is that we assume that the place to be for all students works the same way for all students and it doesn't.,” said Sellers Battle. “Sometimes there's a place where you you’ve got to let your hair down.”

Jamal Rossi, Dean of the Eastman School says that Sellers Battle’s appointment and the new center are part of efforts to create “an environment that is inviting and welcoming to all individuals.“

“Clearly at our school, the first criteria has to be musical excellence,” said Rossi. “But beyond that, we want to make certain that that individuals feel like this is a place where they would feel welcomed, they would feel comfortable, they would be safe, they can explore who they are as people, and in all their uniqueness and unique ways.

The formal dedication of the George Walker Center for Equity and Inclusion is this Saturday at 10 a.m. in the Sproull Atrium at the Miller Center, followed by a concert of George Walker’s music at 11 a.m. at Hatch Recital Hall.

Copyright 2022 WXXI News

Mona Seghatoleslami is the Music Director, host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein Wednesdays at 12:10 p.m., interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music in our community through WXXI.