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Friday Morning Rededication Features Music, Costumes and Tours

October 29, 2007

The School of Arts and Humanities Renovation Committee played to a full house Friday morning at the Rededication Program of the recently renovated Dr. Marion M. Speight Modern Language Laboratory.

Instructors, staff, students and well-wishers gathered in the Larry R. Handfield Music Annex and with the help of the Concert Chorale singing Italian Street Song, the mood for the ceremony was set.

Dr. Joyce Nki of the Department of Religion and Philosophy and a native of Kenya offered the morning invocation in her indigenous dialect. Dr. Connie Curtis, head of the Modern Language Program, welcomed the crowd and Dr. Hiram Powell recited the official University Proclamation in Dr. Speight’s honor without benefit of having the actual proclamation in hand.

A tribute to “Ma Speight” was given by Mrs. Mary Roper, an instructor in the Modern Language Program who called Speight her best friend and a role model extraordinaire. “She empowered every one of her students to depart this establishment to serve, and her life reflected that she truly walked with God,” Roper said of the late linguist.

Cielito Lindo (“Pretty Little Heaven,”) was performed by a quintet from the MLS 132. A video featuring Professor Ambar Saleh citing the laboratory’s new capabilities was shown, and there was a cultural dress contest pitting the men against the women. Dr. Warren Ashby won for his authentic German lederhosen; Professor Saleh for her traditional Spanish dress.

Dr. Powell then offered some amusing memories. As a freshman student of Dr. Speight, Powell arrived for his first class with her in shorts, a T-shirt and comfortable shoes. Before he was completely seated, a gentle tug on his upper arm had him back on his feet. The person responsible was Dr. Speight. She asked Powell to return to his room, dress and return in 10 minutes.

“Well, I ran to my room and learned that one can indeed pull on both pant legs at one time,” Powell recalled with a chuckle. “I changed my shirt and shoes and also managed to pull out my cornrows (and plenty of hair, too.) I was back in my seat in 10 minutes huffing and puffing. It was then I began to understand the link between a quality education and one’s appearance.”

Finally, Dr. James Brooks, Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, led the litany and shared some insight into the renovation of the language lab. His first foray into fundraising was met with a timeline of “at least three years,” so he chose a new tactic. With a different approach, support from President Reed and from project committee members, more than $68,000 was raised in just 8 months.

The crowd then moved to the Fine Arts Building for refreshments in the lobby and a walk through the new laboratory.

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About Bethune Cookman University:

Founded in 1904 by Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU) today sustains her legacy of faith, scholarship and service through its relationship with the United Methodist Church and its commitment to academic excellence and civic engagement.  B-CU offers 38 degrees on its main campus and online college. Located in Daytona Beach, B-CU is one of three private, historically black colleges in the state of Florida. The institution boasts a diverse and international faculty and student body of nearly 4,000.  For more information, visit

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