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Peter Cole Named WIU's 2023 Distinguished Faculty Lecture

MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – The Western Illinois University 2023 Distinguished University Professor Peter Cole will deliver the Distinguished Faculty Lecture, The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project (CRR19), at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 25 in the College of Fine Arts and Communication (COFAC) Recital Hall.


The lecture is open free to the public and will be live-streamed on WIU's YouTube Channel.


Cole is a professor of history at WIU, first joining the University's faculty in 2000. He is also the founder and co-director of a public art project in Chicago to commemorate the 1919 Chicago Race Riot. The project, CRR19, is working to place markers across the city at the locations where each of 38 lives were lost.


CRR 19 was launched in 2019 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the riot. Since then, numerous events have taken place to raise awareness of the project, including their annual historic tour of Bronzeville and Bridgeport, by bike, to highlight the history of places connected to the riot and its legacy, revealed in the city’s enduring residential segregation.


Cole said he is honored to be selected as this year's Distinguished University Professor.


"I look forward to sharing my work on the Chicago Race Riot of 1919 Commemoration Project to the WIU community," he said. "I'm also proud to join many of my colleagues and friends from the History department in being selected--and gladly note that my department has had more Distinguished Faculty Lecturers than any other."


Cole initially joined WIU's faculty as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2006. He was promoted to professor in 2011.


He also currently serves as a research associate at the Society, Work and Development Institute at the University of the Witwaterstrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was a visiting scholar for the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at the University of California, Berkeley in 2011; a visiting research fellow for the Center for Sociological Research at the University of Johannesburg in South Africa in 2009, and the associate director of the Culture and Society in Africa Program at the Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and a visiting professor of history at the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania in 2007.


Prior to coming to WIU, Cole was an assistant professor at Boise State University from 1998-2000, a lecturer at Western Maryland College in 1998, a visiting assistant professor at Washington College in Maryland in 1997, and an instructor at Georgetown University in 1996.


Cole has published several books, including his most recent, Ben Fletcher: The Life and Times of a Black Wobbly, in 2021, and the prize-winning Dockworker Power: Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area.


While at Western, Cole has been awarded the Provost's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching (2023); the Excellence in Multicultural Teaching award from the College of Arts and Sciences (2022); the Excellence in Scholarship award from the CAS (2020); the President's Excellence in Diversity Award for Teaching (2014); and a Faculty Study Abroad Fellowship to South Africa (2012-14).


In addition to his teaching, Cole is the director of graduate studies for the History department and chair of the History Department's Undergraduate Curriculum Committee. He serves on the Scholarship Committee for the African American Studies program; on the Advisory Board for WIU Global Citizens: International Scholars Initiative; has served on the Scholarship and Recruitment Committee; the Department Personnel Committee; chair of the Academic Integrity Committee; served on the department's graduate committee; the Chair's Advisory Committee; chair of the Library Committee; chair of the Faculty Council in the CAS; the CAS Curriculum Committee; served on the Outstanding Faculty Awards Selection Committee for the CAS; the College Personnel Committee for the CAS; the President's Faculty Roundtable; the Expanding Cultural Diversity Project; the University Sustainability Committee and its Transportation Subcommittee; the WIU Affirmative Action Administrative Internship Committee; the Firs

t Year Experience Subcommittee; was on the House of Delegates for University Professionals of Illinois (UPI), and was the faculty advisor to the Veggie Club, Campus Greens, the Cycling Club and the Flatlander Rock Climbers.


In addition to his four books, Cole has authored and published numerous scholarly articles, commentaries, opinion essays and blog posts; encyclopedia articles; reviews of books, museums and websites; chaired several scholarly conferences and seminars; and presented at numerous conferences, seminars and at universities.


Cole received his bachelor's degree in History at Columbia University in New York and his Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University.

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