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August 28, 2020
On Campus

Masks On, Masks Off – I Am Because We Are

Wittenberg University Faculty Engage in Virtual Discussion for Opening Convocation

Wittenberg University will present its annual Opening Convocation at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1, with award-winning professors Julius Bailey and Brian Yontz engaged in a virtual dialogue titled “Masks On, Masks Off: I Am Because We Are.” Due to COVID-19, this year’s traditional kick-off of the new academic year will occur in a video format that will include pre-recorded remarks from President Michael Frandsen, Provost Michelle Mattson, and Vice President of Student Development Casey Gill, in addition to the discussion between Bailey and Yontz. David and Carol Matevia Endowed University Pastor Andy Tune will offer the invocation.

The Opening Convocation video will be shown in all First Year Seminars (FYS) at 12 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 1. The entire Wittenberg community and the general public are invited to view the video at at that time or later.

Selected by Wittenberg faculty as the recipient of the 2020 Collegium Award for Excellence and Innovation in Teaching, Bailey, associate professor of philosophy, is the author of five books including Racism, Hypocrisy and Bad Faith: A Moral Challenge to the America I Love (Broadview Press, 2020) and the award-winning Racial Realities and Post-Racial Dreams: The Age of Obama and Beyond (Broadview Press, 2015). A Christian existentialist, cultural critic, social theorist, and diversity lecturer, he discusses current events and social change in his recently launched podcast Straight, No Chaser, which has hosted such high-profile guests as Cornel West and Eddie Glaude. Bailey also serves as the director of the justice, law, and public policy minor, director of the African and Diaspora Studies program, and pre-law advisor.

Yontz, associate professor of education and chair of the department of education, received the 2020 Alumni Association Award for Distinguished Teaching, the top faculty prize at Wittenberg, and the Excellence in Community Service Award at Wittenberg in 2019. He teaches courses in education policy, urban education, and foundations of education at the graduate and undergraduate level and is the author of multiple peer-reviewed articles and book chapters. He serves as a faculty athletics representative and is a trustee for the Ohio Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (OACTE).

Bailey and Yontz will participate in a follow-up virtual Q&A session with all FYS classes from 12-12:50 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 8. Amy McGuffey, assistant professor of education, will moderate the session. A recording will be available for viewing after the event at

The Opening Convocation is typically the first event in the annual Wittenberg Series. To ensure the health and safety of the Wittenberg community as well as the broader Springfield community during the coronavirus pandemic, the Series will not be offered during the 2020-2021 academic year. The Series is expected to resume in the 2021-2022 academic year, health and safety conditions permitting.

For more information on the Wittenberg Series, click here. To become a friend of the Wittenberg Series, contact Lisa Watson at

Debbie Ritter
Debbie Ritter
Writer and Content Editor

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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