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Dr. Deniece Dortch to Speak at Hendrix College September 13

CONWAY, Ark. (August 16, 2018) – Hendrix College will welcome diversity scholar Deniece Dortch, Ph.D., to present “What Happens When I Don’t Show up?: Exercising Agency and Finding Your Voice” as the 2018 Senate Jennings Lecturer on Thursday, September 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Staples Auditorium. 

Dr. Dortch, an internationally recognized speaker and published author, studies the socialization of undergraduate and graduate students of color, using critical phenomenological approaches to understand how African American undergraduate and graduate students experience and respond to race and racism at predominantly white institutions of higher education. She is especially interested in how psychological violence and fear is experienced, manifested, and reproduced in the academy. Her most recent projects explore intra-racial relationships, racial agency, and their effects on persistence in higher education, and her publications address topics such as the self-efficacy of graduate students and the sense of belonging of undergraduate students of color at predominantly white institutions. 

In “What Happens When I Don’t Show Up?,” Dortch will address the expectation that historically marginalized individuals undertake race-based conversations, and how that expectation can be burdensome, tiring, empowering, or even invigorating. The ways in which students and others in higher education address racism traditionally have been through social protest movements and, more recently, through social media. The primary focus of racism discourse and action leans toward a broad conversation about higher education in general. What can individuals do to pay attention to or address the concerns that they see? Dortch will address this question and guide the audience in exploring motivations for racial agency, and the ways in which it can be tackled in public and in private, both at Hendrix College and in other communities.

Before she joined the faculty at George Washington University, Dortch was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Utah, where she created the African American Doctoral Scholar’s Initiative, a comprehensive mentoring program focused on graduate student socialization into the academy. A former Program Director at Texas A&M University, Dortch also co-founded Sista to Sista, a co-curricular leadership development program designed to foster a sense of connectedness among Black female college athletes. Dortch is a returned United States Peace Corps Volunteer who served in both Morocco and Jamaica. She earned her Ph.D. in Higher & Postsecondary Education Leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, an Ed.M. in Higher & Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, an M.A. in Intercultural Service, Leadership & Management from the School for International Training in Vermont and a B.A. from Eastern Michigan University. She has been featured on NPR and PBS.

Dortch’s visit to campus is sponsored by Senate Jennings Lecture Series and coordinated by the College’s Office for Diversity and Inclusion. For details, call 501-505-2951 or email

About the Senate Jennings Lecture Series

At the time of his death, Dr. James M. Jennings was the Cynthia Cook Sandefur Odyssey Professor of Education and History at Hendrix College. Following his passing in October of 2015, the Hendrix Student Senate moved to establish an endowed fund for a lecture series with the sole purpose of providing lectures and training opportunities on topics of diversity. The Student Senate desires for students and student leaders to discuss diversity issues and develop potential solutions, and expects that the lecture series and its trainings will foster leadership development, community building, and engagement in conversations that matter to the broader Hendrix community. By bringing experts to campus, the Student Senate hopes to encourage proactive, meaningful conversations that result in action for the betterment of student associations and the community as a whole.

About Hendrix College

A private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas, Hendrix College consistently earns recognition as one of the country’s leading liberal arts institutions, and is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. Its academic quality and rigor, innovation, and value have established Hendrix as a fixture in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings. Founded in 1876, Hendrix has been affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884. To learn more, visit