We’re just proud beyond words, we’re proud because it meant so much for him to see young people of color graduate from college and make a change in their lives.
The Center of Multicultural Affairs officially has a new name, the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity (or LGCIE, pronounced “legacy”).
A new name does not affect the center’s mission, which has always been to provide a place of support for Bridgewater State University students who need it.
The change does, however, better reflect what the center is all about, said Director Sydne Marrow.
“For a few years now, I’ve wanted to rename the Center of Multicultural Affairs because of the ways in which we engage in this work and that was not evident in the brand,” she said. “We offer a safe space for students of color, but we believe in inclusion. My job is to not only reach students of color, but all students.”
The renaming of the center honors Bridgewater State University’s first graduate of color, Sarah Ann Lewis, who earned her diploma from the Bridgewater State Normal School in 1869, and the school’s first director of minority affairs, Paul Gaines, G’68.
“Upon hearing that we were honoring the legacies of Mr. Gaines and Ms. Lewis, it crystalized for me in the acronym, LGCIE, it spoke for itself,” Marrow said.
Paul Gaines died in June. His wife of 61 years, Jo Eva, said he would have been honored by the name change.
“We’re just proud beyond words, we’re proud because it meant so much for him to see young people of color graduate from college and make a change in their lives,” she said.
Gaines was instrumental in making BSU the diverse institution it is today. He founded programs and scholarships to enhance access and provide support for students; many of these initiatives still exist today.
When he first arrived on campus there were only 11 students of color, upon his retirement as Assistant to the President for Affirmative Action and Minority Affairs that number grew to 400.
Today, 25 percent of the BSU student body are students of color.
Jo Eva and members of the Gaines family will travel to campus later this year for an official ceremony celebrating the center’s name change. Knowing BSU is working hard to keep her husband’s legacy alive is humbling.
“It’s wonderful to see young people graduate from college and make positive changes that would not happen if they were not given the opportunity,” she said.
As Director of the Lewis and Gaines Center for Inclusion and Equity, Marrow and her staff are committed to providing those opportunities.
“There are students operating in the dark, who may not understand what they are doing. We help to push students to take advantage of the resources, to study hard and to work hard,” she said.
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