EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is part of a publishing partnership between the Richmond Register and Eastern Progress
Eastern Kentucky University hosted a groundbreaking ceremony for the National Pan-Hellenic Council Divine Nine Plaza on Saturday in front of Martin Hall.
The National Pan-Hellenic Council at EKU is the governing body for the historically Black Greek-Letter Organizations (BGLOs). Currently, there are eight organizations on the university's campus, but nationally, there are nine BGLOs recognized by the NPHC - known as the Divine Nine.
These historically service-based fraternities and sororities represent over 1.5 million members internationally.
EKU President David McFaddin said that the Divine Nine plaza is “A place that recognizes our NPHC organizations and the good work that they do to transform the lives of young men and young women.”
Members of the NPHC chapters, community members and students attended the event.
The groundbreaking took place before the EKU football team played in the Opportunity Bowl which was named to highlight the opportunity-focused initiatives at EKU. The Opportunity Bowl was held in memory of Dr. Sheila Pressley. Pressley was the dean of the College of Health Sciences and passed away in January of 2020 after a long battle with cancer.
“We are so excited and looking forward to its completion,” Morgan Edelen, NPHC President and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, Inc., said. “We want to thank everyone for coming out during these uneasy times. We want to thank the EKU faculty and staff for supporting us during this time as well as a special thank you to President McFaddin, Dr. Moore, Regent Diaz, Ashley Offutt, and Ms. Loni Yost.”
“Today is really the start of something special,” Dannie Moore, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives and Chief Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer, said. “This monument will truly be a space I believe will insight current students and draw alumni back to our beautiful campus.”
Moore said that this project was already in the works before he arrived at EKU in July of this year.
“I did get an opportunity to sit down with our facilities folks and the architects and the question they asked was ‘why is this important? What does this mean for campus?’ And I was able to highlight to them, if you think about NPHC memorials and you think about NPHC in general this is a group of student leaders that come back to campus and this space should be a space where there’s some connection to bring people back to campus,” Moore said.
Board of Regents Chair Lewis Diaz mentioned how he has witnessed EKU become a more diverse campus over the years and even when he played for Hall of Fame football coach Roy Kidd.
“I think EKU as a school has led in that space (diversity) for a long time and that’s what made us excel in the 70s and 80s in our academic and athletic programs,” Diaz said. “When I think about the student experience that we want to cultivate at this institution we want to create an institution and maintain an institution that prepares students for life in competition in a global marketplace and we cannot do that if we don’t have a diverse student body.”
Diaz and McFaddin plan to help the NPHC fraternities and sororities grow on campus.
“We’re going to do everything that we can to help increase participation in NPHC fraternities that are active on this campus, we’re going to foster growth,” Diaz said.
McFaddin said a ribbon cutting is planned for the Spring of 2021 and a Homecoming celebration is in the works for October of next year.