Fri. Jun 9th, 2023

In fall of 1999 the students of West Chester University decided that they wanted to dedicate the Sykes third floor study lounge to Frederick Douglass, and eight years later the goal is finally becoming a reality. Although the lounge was “kind of” dedicated in the 2000-2001 school year, according to Dave Timmann, director of Sykes Student Union, the $10,000 endowment for the official dedication was finally reached this past semester. The dedication ceremony and reception was held on Thursday.

Frederick Douglass made the last speech of his life on the West Chester University campus on Feb. 1, 1895, just 19 days before his death. He was also a frequent visitor to the West Chester area.

After escaping slavery, Douglass spent the rest of his life fighting for women’s and African American’s rights. He was an advocator of social change and made teaching, learning and passing wisdom his main concern. Having his name attached to a room intended for aiding learning brings the realization of his work and recognition of him together for our campus.

Jackie Aliotta, president of Sykes Union Advisory Board presented the plaque along side of Timmann after both of them said a few words about the significance of Douglass and West Chester. There were also remarks made by Kendrick Mickens, associate director of Multicultural Affairs and provost Linda Lamwers

James Trotman, director of the Frederick Douglass Institute also expressed his gratitude for the official dedication.

“The dedication brings this campus full circle,” Trotman said. “This started with students identifying Douglass as a visitor here, and the circle is now complete because we are in the position to dedicate his life and work in a place to read, and relax. This dedication is about being able to use the past, use the life of an American icon and to pass his life and legacy on to future generations.”

Together, 15 organizations raised the full amount required to get the official dedication.

Representatives from the clubs were in attendance to present an oversized check for the amount.

“It’s been a long time coming, and it’s very thrilling,” President Madeleine Wing Adler said. “His books are on campus, read by the students and you just can’t get a better role model. This stands as a reminder to bring together the past, present and future.”

Jenn Rothstein is a first-year student majoring in English. She can be reached at

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