Inaugural Men of Color Success Leadership Summit Travels to NYC

For the first time in Colgate’s history, 39 students of color attended a series of events in Manhattan in celebration of the inaugural Men of Color Success Network (MCSN) Leadership Summit. The morning of Friday, April 1, students and faculty traveled by coach bus from Donovan’s Pub to the Kimpton Hotel Eventi, located in Chelsea, a neighborhood of New York City.

The weekend summit, hosted partly at the Harvard Club of New York City in addition to the Kimpton Hotel, featured a number of formal dinners, speeches and networking sessions, as well as a group visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Led by Dean of Students Dorsey Spencer, the event was an opportunity for Colgate’s men of color to “engage in leadership learning, further personal and professional growth, foster community and build relationships,” as listed in an email shared by Spencer. 

Creating a summit like this was a longtime dream for Spencer, who had identified a need for uplifting male students of color to pursue leadership roles around campus. Believing that those in the executive roles of notable student organizations were often female students, Spencer wished to create a space where current male students of color could learn from distinguished alumni who were able to optimize their experiences as Colgate undergraduates. 

Recognizing the difficulty of bringing a large group of alumni back to Hamilton, N.Y., Spencer decided that his ideal setting would be in New York City. Despite the logistical challenges that came with organizing a major off-campus event, he noted that the administration was of great help in the process.

“Working with different campus partners and colleagues, many of them stepped up and said ‘We are very much in support of this, please let us know what we can do,’” Spencer said. “That’s how we were able to get locations and financial resources, because people supported this idea of, ‘How do we better connect with our men of color to enhance their time on campus?’”

Among the faculty chaperones was Professor of Philosophy and Religion Harvey Sindima, who has been making substantial contributions to the POC (people of color) experience at Colgate for several decades. Between 1989 and 1999, Sindima formed Brothers, a support group for men of color at Colgate that continues to be active on campus today. For Sindima, the summit was a reflection of the progress that has been made throughout his time at the university.

“It was a historical event. I’ve seen five presidents, and this is the only time that this happened. Over the years, some things have been tried, but this was really unique in every sense,” Sindima said. 

Sindima also commented on the logistics of putting together an event this large.

“Dean Spencer was a wonderful coordinator, at every stage he made sure that students engaged the alumni. He was very good at organizing, the details of this thing are just overwhelming. The bulletins, the order of the day, everything to a T. There was nothing lacking in terms of practice, preparation and organization,” Sindima said.

Sophomore Edward Zhang shared how he was impacted by his experience at the summit.

“The leadership summit really helped me understand the importance of networking. Being able to talk to so many Colgate alumni and connect with them meaningfully was incredibly informative and impactful,” Zhang said.