August 16, 2018
On Campus

Baptism by Fire

Shakeer Abdullah ’99 to Present Keynote Address at Opening Convocation

The 2018-2019 Wittenberg Series will begin with the annual Opening Convocation, the traditional kick-off of the new academic year, at 11:45 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 21, in historic Weaver Chapel. Shakeer Abdullah ’99, vice president of student affairs, Clayton State University, Morrow, Georgia, will deliver the keynote address.

A national presenter, consultant, and trainer, Abdullah, supports student learning and success through quality programs, services, and initiatives in his current role at Clayton State University.

An emerging scholar and practitioner in higher education, he is the author of the 2012 book Baptism by Fire: An Investigation of the Experiences and Multicultural Competence of Diversity Staff in Higher Education, which addresses a gap in the research about the preparation of diversity staff and their multicultural competency.

Abdullah’s research takes a broad view of the issues of diversity on college campuses and connects the imperative of inclusion to the core enterprise of teaching and learning. His work includes an article on the effects of racial isolation on white pre-service teachers in the Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, a chapter in the Handbook of College and University Teaching: A Global Perspective (Sage, 2012) on the implications of Muslim beliefs and practices on teaching and learning in higher education, and a chapter in All-American: 45 American Men on Being Muslim (White Cloud Press, 2012).

From 2013-2018, he was the assistant vice president for equity and diversity at the University of Minnesota. He served from 2008-2013 as director of the Multicultural Center at Auburn University and taught part-time on Auburn’s faculty and at Columbus State University in Georgia. Prior to that, he was the director of Student Affairs and Multicultural Affairs at Capital University Law School from 2006-2008. Previous appointments also include serving as a program coordinator of New Diversity Initiatives at The Ohio State University and as an admission counselor at Wittenberg.

Originally from Canton, Ohio, Abdullah has a passion for international travel and education, having visited more than 15 countries, including teaching cultural competence in Lumbadzi, Malawi, and studying at the University of Cairo in Egypt and Lancaster University in England.

He earned his M.A. in higher education and student affairs from The Ohio State University and his Ph.D. in administration in higher education from Auburn University. He and his wife, Alida, have two sons and two daughters.

Now in its 36th year, the Wittenberg Series brings distinguished lecturers and performing artists of national and international prominence to the Wittenberg campus and Springfield community. To make special arrangements, request a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Lisa Watson at All Wittenberg Series events are free and open to the public. Doors open 30 minutes prior to the beginning of each lecture or performance. Below are further details related to this year’s Series.


2018-2019 Wittenberg Series Events:

  • Wednesday, Oct. 3: Allen J. Koppenhaver Literary Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium featuring Hillary Jordan, international best-selling author of Mudbound. Colloquium, 4:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium.
  • Monday, Oct. 22: Kenneth H. Sauer Luther Symposium, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium featuring Ronald Rittgers, author and theologian. Q&A, 3:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel.
  • Thursday, Oct. 25: Dance concert featuring Catapult, presenting an evening of shadow dance and theatre works, 7:30 p.m., John Legend Theater at The Dome, 700 S. Limestone St., Springfield.
  • Sunday, Oct. 28: Reformation Service, 7:30 p.m. in Weaver Chapel (music begins at 7 p.m.), featuring The Rev. Dr. Craig Alan Satterlee, Bishop of the North/West Lower Michigan Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 7: Fred R. Leventhal Family Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel featuring Seth M. Siegel, New York Times best-selling author of Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution to a Water-Starved World. Q & A, 4 p.m., Bayley Auditorium.
  • Friday, Dec. 7: Lessons and Carols, 7:30 p.m. (pre-service music begins at 7 p.m.), Weaver Chapel.
  • Monday, Jan. 21, 2019: Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation, 11:15 a.m., Weaver Chapel, featuring Adam Foss, criminal justice reform advocate. Q & A, 2:45 p.m., 105 Joseph C. Shouvlin Center for Lifelong Learning.
  • Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2019: Vocal concert featuring South African a cappella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, 7:30 p.m., Weaver Chapel.
  • Wednesday, March 13, 2019: William A. Kinnison Endowed Lecture in History, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring Pulitzer Prize-winning author Elizabeth Fenn on “Sacagawea’s Capture and the History of the Early West.”
  • Wednesday, March 27, 2019: IBM Endowed Lecture in the Sciences, 7:30 p.m., Bayley Auditorium, featuring John Dovidio, author, Yale psychology professor, and leading researcher on aversive racism. Colloquium, 4 p.m., Bayley Auditorium.

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To make special arrangements, request a Series poster, or become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Lisa Watson by phone at (937) 327-7363 or at

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About Wittenberg

Wittenberg's curriculum has centered on the liberal arts as an education that develops the individual's capacity to think, read, and communicate with precision, understanding, and imagination. We are dedicated to active, engaged learning in the core disciplines of the arts and sciences and in pre-professional education grounded in the liberal arts. Known for the quality of our faculty and their teaching, Wittenberg has more Ohio Professors of the Year than any four-year institution in the state. The university has also been recognized nationally for excellence in community service, sustainability, and intercollegiate athletics. Located among the beautiful rolling hills and hollows of Springfield, Ohio, Wittenberg offers more than 100 majors, minors and special programs, enviable student-faculty research opportunities, a unique student success center, service and study options close to home and abroad, a stellar athletics tradition, and successful career preparation.

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