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KNOXVILLE — In celebration of Black History Month, the University of Tennessee will host the first Black Issues Conference on Feb. 4.
The conference, -Food for the Soul: A Recipe for Success,- will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Carolyn P. Brown Memorial University Center. The event is free and open to the public.

The conference is the brainchild of Tierney Bates, interim assistant director of the Office of Minority Student Affairs, and a group of UT students who felt a forum addressing issues of importance to the black community would be beneficial to the educational development of students.

Bates and the students recruited sponsors, found presenters to develop workshops and scheduled Shelby County Mayor A.C. Wharton to provide the keynote address.

The conference will feature 17 workshops, led by community members and business representatives. Topics include assessing a company-s diversity objectives, consumer credit basics and steps to personal and professional success.

-We hope this first Black Issues Conference will serve as a catalyst in the educational process of the entire campus and community about issues that affect the African American community in Knoxville, East Tennessee and the country,- said Bates.

-As multicultural influences increase, we hope this program will help engage students as active participants in campus programs that affect the UT community through the Quality Enhancement Plan,- he added.
QEP is UT-s five-year initiative which focuses on preparing students for the global economy by broadening their knowledge and experience with cultures and nationalities other than their own.

The Black Issues Conference is sponsored by UT Minority Student Affairs, the Black Cultural Programming Committee, NAACP, the UT Parents Association, Target Corporation and Enterprise Rent-A-Car.

Wharton will speak from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. and will attend a reception in the University Center Dining Room until 4:30 p.m. For a complete schedule, contact Tierney Bates at (865) 974-6861 or by e-mail at tbates@utk.edu.

Beth Gladden (865) 974-9008 or beth.gladden@tennessee.edu