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Dr. Monica Smith to give keynote at CommUniversity

The annual CommUniversity will mark its 40th year of providing classes to the Quad Cities in February.

Each year, more than 500 students gather every Sunday afternoon for a wide-ranging number of classes from arts to philosophy to personal development.

On the first Sunday, Feb. 3, participants meet in St. Ambrose University's Rogalski Center to kick off the session. Dr. Monica M. Smith, vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Augustana College, will give the keynote at this year's CommUniversity. Her title is "Where Do We Go From Here?"

She will be speaking just days after what would have been the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 90th birthday, and she will revisit this pivotal question that Dr. King posed to an audience in Atlanta in 1967.

Dr. Smith has served in administrative roles in higher education since 2004 providing strategic, academic, and operational leadership for diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. At Augustana, she is responsible for providing institutional leadership to create and sustain a culture that embraces diversity and promotes equity and inclusion. 

Several Augustana faculty will participate. They include:

• Dr. Tamara Felden, "Does Everybody Have a Price?" based on a a 1956 tragicomic play by Swiss dramatist Friedrich Dürrenmatt.

• Dr. Claire Kovacs, "Paris Moderns, 1850-1950" about the transformations of painting, sculpture, photography, and printmaking.

• Dr. Dara Weman-Geedey, "Understanding Vaccines: How They're Made and How the Immune System Responds."

• Professor Jeff Coussens, "Acting: The Action to the Word," a series of improvisational exercises and scripted scenes.

• Assistant Professor Sarah McDowell, "Learn to Crochet."

• Dr. Stephen Hager (and Trent Foltz), "Fine art photography to understand climate change." The workshop will study the art of photography and use the environment, more specifically climate change, to learn about the creative process.

A complete course listing is available online at

CommUniversity was founded in 1979. It is annual non-profit event coordinated by a board of directors comprised of individuals from local colleges, churches, libraries and other community organizations.

Classes are taught by local experts, including the faculty of colleges and universities, staff from museums and libraries, representatives of religious groups, and private citizens. 

This will be the final year for CommUniversity, according to the members of its volunteer board.



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