Our Mission

Atwood InstituteStatement of Purpose

Atwood Institute historical image

Our approach to the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal’s work is a tripartite mission to honor diverse experiences, dismantle negative stereotypes, and train emergent leaders—each is focused first on our campus, then onward toward our environs, and then upward across the historically black college and university and higher educational landscapes.

At the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal at Kentucky State University, we strive to:

  • Honor the experiences of each of our constituents, providing safe and inclusive environments for detection, dialogue, and discovery of diversity
  • Dismantle the stereotypes and myths with regard to race, ethnicity, class, gender, culture, immigrants, and sexual orientation
  • Train and educate emerging leaders in the necessity of effective anti-racism and educational equity work

Atwood Institute historical group image


Chartered in May 1886, Kentucky State University bears 1890 land-grant status as well as HBCU designation. Kentucky State is committed to providing our students with a comprehensive education that affords a degree and prepare them for a lifetime of learning. As the flagship institute of Kentucky State University and our community, the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal is an extension of this mission. Its objectives are to:

  • Explore issues of race, education, and the democratic ideal: (1) How institutions are affected by these issues; (2) How these issues individually and/or collectively frame and implement policy, and; (3) How these institutions, influenced by issues of race and education, can both limit and advance the democratic ideal
  • Provide opportunities for Kentucky State University students, faculty, staff, and community members to participate in scholarly research and civic engagement
  • Define how connections between the democratic ideal is connected to race and education can serve as a platform for affecting change


The Atwood Institute affords Kentucky State University stakeholders access to scholarly research, interdisciplinary study, discourse and debate, as well as advocacy on cutting-edge issues related to race, education, and the democratic ideal. The Atwood’s symposiums, lectures, brown-bag lunches, and working group sessions, as well as our digital and print media services will include scholars, students, practitioners, and faculty members. The Atwood Institute seeks and attracts the support of key community institutions which include media, businesses, government, community colleges, universities, community-based, non-profit, and faith-based organizations. Not only does our work collaborate with diverse groups of people, we seek to secure cross-cultural understanding through community building, anti-racism training and conflict resolution, as well as educational equity initiatives.

Master Teacher Lecture Series | April 5

The Master Teacher Lecture Series is designed to spotlight the life and work experiences of master teachers, offering the Kentucky State campus and wider community opportunities to learn from distinguished educators whose careers, in theory and praxis, exemplify good teaching and support student learning. The Atwood welcomed Kentucky native Jamye Coleman Williams, Ph.D., who At 99, Dr. Williams remains a powerful and vibrant authority on matters relating to education, religion and contemporary affairs, as the first presenter in its inaugural Master Teacher Lecture Series. As a master educator, activist and leader in the African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, Williams, a Kentucky native, is a legend. Besides a teaching career which spanned 50 years—the last 14 of which she served as the head of the Department of Communication at Tennessee State University—Williams is noted for assuming the editorship of The AME Church Review, the oldest black journal in America in 1984. In doing so, she became the first woman to be elected as a major officer in the then 197-year history of the A.M.E. Church.

Atwood Day | March 27

Celebrated during the month of March—which marks the date of his birth, March 15, 1897, as well as that of his death, March 18, 1983—Atwood Day is identified annually to memorialize and celebrate the contributions of Rufus B. Atwood as Kentucky State’s ninth and longest-serving president. This year’s observance will include a talk with Atwood Institute Director Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D. in conversation with Kentucky State University Foundation Director Donald W. Lyons Sr., and Atwood biographer Dr. Gerald L. Smith, author of A Black Educator in the Segregated South: Kentucky’s Rufus B. Atwood, as well as the presentation of the Rufus B. Atwood Bravery Award and a graveside memorial with presentations by the Color Guard and Gospel Ensemble followed by a BBQ in the heart of campus. Also in attendance will be special guest Roy Mitchell of Cincinnati, Ohio, Atwood’s great-nephew.

SXSWedu | March 7


An exploration of the founding of the Atwood Institute for Race, Education, and the Democratic Ideal at Kentucky State University, the panel discussing the Atwood Institute will be featured at the SXSW-EDU Conference & Festival in Austin, Texas. The Atwood Institute advances scholarship relevant to the nation’s 100+ HBCUs by focusing on the delicate condition of black America and other marginalized populations. Panelists will Kentucky State University President M. Christopher Brown II, Ph.D., Director Crystal A. deGregory, Ph.D., HBCU Digest Founder Jarrett L. Carter Sr. and EducationDIVE editor Autumn A. Arnett.


Atwood Symposium | November 19

Atwood Institute SymposiumThemed “The Future of America’s Black Colleges | Strategies for Public Accountability, Workforce Relevance, and Changing Demographics,” the inaugural Atwood Symposium’s one-day convening was proudly presented in conjunction with the inauguration of Kentucky State University’s 18th president, Dr. M. Christopher Brown II, who is also the Atwood Institute’s founder. Featuring some of the nation’s most important thought-leaders, the inaugural schedule presented academicians, practitioners, and industry leaders from across the higher education landscape including representatives from the Association for Public Land-grant Universities, HBCU Digest, EducationDIVE, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, and other member-HBCU institutions.