Sun. Jan 16th, 2022

In honor of her dedication to educational and civic leadership, WCU’s president Madeleine Wing Adler received an award that represents a link to the chain of legacy in the University’s Frederick Douglass Institute.On Tuesday, March 25, Adler received the ninth Annual Dr. Patricia Grasty Gaines Multicultural Leadership Award during a reception in Philips Autograph Library.

The history and meaning behind this award are especially meaningful to Adler, who said she was “absolutely thrilled” to receive the award. In addition to contributions in the establishment of FDI, Adler expressed that she still cherishes the friendship she shared with Gaines, co-founder of FDI.

“When I needed support, when her friends, family and students needed support, Pat was always there,” Adler said. “I miss her everyday, and that is the truth.”

Because of FDI, programs for the advancement of multicultural studies’ throughout the curriculum has emerged and the appreciation of Douglass can be passed along to students and faculty in the community.

Douglass once said, “To educate a man is to unfit him to be a slave.” The last ?public lecture he gave before his death was at WCU in 1895. ?

Through the award, Douglass’ link of legacy is combined with that of Gaines, who was known for her dedication to the advancement of multicultural education. Following a Bachelor’s degree from WCU, Gaines earned both a Masters and Doctorate degree from Temple University.

She returned to WCU where she spent 30 years as a faculty member in the Department of Literacy. Her devotion to multiculturalism inspired members of FDI and WCU to create the Multicultural Leadership Award in her honor.

Along with the commitment to FDI, Adler has encouraged professors to bring diversity into their curriculum, as Gaines did. Adler also has succeeded in recruiting diverse staff members and students to campus, and worked toward making a Civility Day, which is recognized annually at the University.

In the ceremony honoring Adler and commemorating both Gaines and Douglass, the welcome speech was given by the director of FDI, James Trotman.

“Through the Douglass Institute, the form of the Adler legacy is an outward expression of an inner drive to bridge the themes of excellence and equity,” Trotman said. “We salute her for creating these opportunities. We thank her for allowing us to participate in her vision of an inclusive campus.”

Two graduate assistants of FDI also spoke, and an invocation delivery by the Rev. Canon Thomas W.S. Logan Sr. followed. After dinner, student awards were presented, and Adler formally received her award.

Alison Butler is a third-year student majoring in English literature with a minor in journalism. She can be reached at

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