About the Speaker: Dr. Jamel Santa Cruze Wright is Eureka College’s (Eureka, IL) 27th president and the first woman and African American to serve as president of the 165-year-old institution. Wright is a skilled communicator, author and scholar, whose training and expertise is in public relations/strategic communication, media studies and intercultural communication and competence. Her reputation as a scholar, trainer and consultant on current issues in communication, leadership development, and diversity and inclusion make her a sought-after consultant to facilitate dialogue and development workshops and help create training modules focused on these issues. Wright was one of several experts tapped to serve on the Ferguson Commission’s Citizen Law Enforcement Working Group (Ferguson, Mo) on community policing, racial profiling, use of force and mass demonstrations. Wright’s career reveals her enduring passion for education and servant leadership. She was Coordinator of the America Reads Program, President of the St. Joseph Area Literacy Coalition, and a teacher and trainer with the Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom School Initiative. After recognizing her calling in higher education, she embarked on a 20-year career in the field, including a broad range of experiences at Boston College, Saint Louis University and the University of Kansas. A first-generation college student herself, Wright is a staunch advocate for an intrusive, student-focused approach and lives by the scripture “to whom much is given, much is expected and required.” Wright joined Eureka College in 2014 as Special Assistant to the President and was later named Vice President of Strategic & Diversity Initiatives. She was appointed interim president in 2015 and served in that capacity until she was named president, in 2017. A St. Louis, Mo native, Wright earned a doctorate and a master’s degree from University of Kansas, Lawrence, and a bachelor’s degree from Missouri Western State University, St. Joseph, Mo., all in communication studies.
Dr. Wright is a 2018 inductee of the African American Hall of Fame Museum in Peoria and she received the 2019 Mayors Community Service Award from Peoria (IL) Mayor Jim Ardis. She also received the “2019 Distinguished Alumni Award” from her alma mater, Missouri Western State University. She serves as an Executive Board member of the Greater Peoria Economic Development Council and on the Carle BroMenn/Eureka Hospital Governing Council as well as the being the President of the Board for the Associated Colleges of Illinois.