History and Purpose

The African-American Symposium is an educational and transitional experience sponsored by the Department of Multicultural Student Affairs prior to classes beginning. Its purpose is to foster a sense of community for incoming first-year students and to provide: information about campus resources, support personnel, coping strategies and African-American cultural heritage and contributions as a basis for helping ensure their academic and social-emotional success at NC State.

The Symposium began in 1983 as a response to concerns about the retention and successful advancement of African-American students at North Carolina State University. During the early 1980’s African-American faculty and staff initiated various informal efforts, e.g., mentor program, minority career fair, to address and enhance the experiences of African American students at the University. In 1983 Chancellor Bruce Poulton created the African-American Advisory Council to advise him on matters of concerns to the African-American community and to help facilitate the goal of a creating a campus community supportive of the concept of multiculturalism. One of the first projects developed by the Council was the “Afro-American Symposium”. The first Symposium was coordinated by a team of eight African-American faculty/staff members and three students. In 1984 and 1985, one staff person and two persons, respectively, were selected to coordinate the activities. Since 1986, the Symposium coordination has been the responsibility of the Coordinator of African American Student Affairs. Today the Symposium is an institutionalize retention and advancement effort of the University and is specifically designed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. To maximize the academic success of students.
  2. To encourage multiculturalism.
  3. To facilitate the enhancement of strong cultural identity and positive self-esteem.
  4. To coordinate activities which enable students to get to know each other.
  5. To educate students and parents/relatives about the availability and appropriate use of various campus resources and support services.
  6. To provide opportunities for interaction with upper-class students, faculty, and staff.
  7. To provide information about the rich African cultural heritage and the valuable contributions of Africans and African-Americans.

The content of the Symposium is determined by the African-American Coordinating Committee. The logistical planning and implementation of the Symposium are facilitated by the Director and Assistant Director for African-American Student Affairs. Several students also work in the Symposium as paid counselors during the summer. All of these individuals meet annually to plan and evaluate the Symposium. A brief description of the Symposium process and content follows.

Historically, Symposium is scheduled just prior to the start of the fall semester/academic year, as a supplement to the University’s required New Student Orientation, held in the summer. Parents and guests are also invited to attend at their own expense. At the Symposium students receive written materials about NC State among which is the Symposium Handbook. This handbook contains information about campus resources, faculty and staff, academic tutorials, clubs and organizations, local businesses, churches, and more.