Dr. Sonja Trent-BrownDr. Sonja Trent-Brown

Dr. Sonja Trent-Brown, vice president of culture and inclusive excellence at Hope College, will present the college’s 2024 Black History Month History Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 15, at 4 p.m. in the Maas Center auditorium.

The public is invited.  Admission is free.

The lecture will explore the national 2024 Black History Month theme, “African Americans and the Arts,” taking a journey from historic heritage to contemporary contributions of artistic and creative activity. Trent-Brown will also consider the DEIAB (diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility and belonging) landscape in higher education, the current anti-DEI legislation climate, and celebrations and opportunities at Hope College.

The doors will open at 3:45 p.m.  There will also be an opportunity for the audience to participate in a question-and-answer panel discussion following the presentation.

The lecture is sponsored by the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), which is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary and is incorporating the theme throughout the 2024 Diversity Lecture Series. CDI is using the 2024 Diversity Lecture Series to celebrate and honor those who have put their time and effort into creating a diverse and inclusive community at Hope. The celebration will continue through presentations scheduled across 2024, including most immediately the college’s Women’s History Month Lecture on March 5.

“Our theme for this time of celebration and reflection will be ‘40 years of Belonging and Growing Together: 1984-2024,’” said Jevon Willis, director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.  “Utilizing CDI’s distinctive diversity spring and fall lecture series, each lecture will focus on the legacy of work and personal experiences connected with past and present leaders of CDI at Hope College.”

As 鶹Ƶ’s vice president for culture and inclusive excellence, Trent-Brown provides leadership for the development of an institutional vision and effective implementation strategies for inclusive excellence that champion the value and importance of a diverse and inclusive college environment. In this role, she serves on 鶹Ƶ’s Operating Committee and Cabinet.

She has been at Hope since 2005, when she joined the psychology faculty. She was appointed in 2015 as special assistant to the president for culture and inclusion, a position that was expanded and renamed in 2018 to chief officer for culture and inclusion. She has served as vice president for culture and inclusive excellence since 2021.

Trent-Brown has taught courses including Introduction to Psychology, Lifespan Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Advanced Research, Psychology and Culture, Phonetics, and psycholinguistics seminars. She has mentored more than 180 undergraduate students in research in psycholinguistics, psychoacoustics, child development, nature-based learning and racial healing.  Her guiding scriptures are Hebrews 11:1, Philippians 4:4-7, Romans 10:17, and Revelation 5:9.

She is a Franklin & Marshall College Emerging Scholars Fellow, Wye Faculty Fellow, and National Inclusive Excellence Leadership Academy (NIXLA) Fellow.  In 2016, the Acoustical Society of America presented her with two awards for excellence in student mentoring. She was a top-three finalist for the 2023 Midwestern Psychological Association Excellence in Mentoring Award.  She was recognized as one of the Top 25 Psychology Professors in Michigan in 2012 and in The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education Honors & Awards in 2013, and with Honorable Mention for the 2015 CASE U.S. Professor of the Year.  She received the Midwestern Psychological Association/Psi Chi Regional Research Award for faculty/student collaborative research and served as Councilor and Secretary with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) Social Sciences Division. Her research has been funded by Caplan Foundation for Early Childhood, the Kellogg Foundation, and the Psi Chi International Honor Society in Psychology (SRCD) Society for Research in Child Development Grant.

Trent-Brown is a member of the National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education and serves on the research committee of the Natural Start Alliance of the North American Association for Environmental Education. She has served as an elected social sciences councilor with the Council on Undergraduate Research (CUR) and currently serves on the Professional Development Committee and DEIAB Committee with the International Ombuds Association (IOA).

She was appointed to the college’s John H. and Jeanne M. Jacobson Endowed Professorship in 2015. Also at Hope, she received the 鶹Ƶ Social Sciences Young Investigator Award in 2010 and 2019; the Janet L. Anderson Excellence in Teaching Award in 2012; and the Hope Outstanding Professor Educator Award presented by the graduating class in 2012.  She has served on a variety of boards and committees at the college, including as the social sciences faculty representative to the college’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee, as a member of the Presidential Search Committee, and as chair of the Residential Life Committee and Campus Life Board. She previously was the adviser for Hope’s Black Student Union, and the Theta Gamma Pi Sorority.

Trent-Brown has sung with the Holland Chorale and the 鶹Ƶ Gospel Choir. She began singing in church, and while pursuing her graduate training in psychology she also enrolled in a voice performance degree program. She has continued operatic vocal training while teaching at Hope. Her stage credits include “Grease,” “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Once Upon a Mattress.”

February is national Black History Month.  The lecture is being presented by the college’s Center for Diversity and Inclusion in collaboration with the Black Student Union, the Office of Culture and Inclusive Excellence, and the GROW Diversity Council.

To inquire about accessibility or if you need accommodations to fully participate in the event, please email accommodations@hope.edu.  Updates related to events are posted when available at hope.edu/calendar in the individual listings.

The Maas Center is located at 264 Columbia Ave., between 10th and 13th streets.