Professor of English Language and Literature Maureen Ngozi Eke sat in her second floor Anspach office one Friday afternoon.
Books were scattered everywhere and a cup of hot coffee steamed on her desk. Her serine smile is something any person can get accustomed to in a short time.
Eke, originally from Nigeria, has been teaching at Central Michigan University since 1995 and serves as the CMU faculty member of the Isabella Human Rights Committee.
“The Human Rights committee helps to maintain Mount Pleasant, and if someone feels violated they can put a complaint to the committee, and then we as a group can look into it and help that person out if there is a problem,” said Eke. “… My life has always been about human rights. I have all my life work with it, human rights in general is my calling.”
Eke has been slowly nudging and helping diversity to thrive on the campus, and bringing change to Mount Pleasant.
“I have always considered my identity to be wrapped up in these issues on helping with human rights, and working for the greater good,” she said. “… I can’t think of any individual who is not affected by human rights. It is a basic issue we all face as humans ourselves.”
CMU has been striving to improve itself in diversity as a whole, but Eke said she’s worked hard with the university to help improve it even more.
“Dr. Eke is recognized across campus as an outstanding teacher who is totally dedicated to her students and most enthusiastic about every phase of their work together,” said Ronald Primeau, professor of English language and literature. “She advances our awareness of world culture and the arts and attracts many superb international students to CMU.”
Eke works increasingly hard to make Mount Pleasant an interesting place to live, he said.
Additionally, Eke has also been focusing on bringing more diversity graduate leveled courses as well as options for students to experience not your average college experience.
“I think I want to contribute even more to CMU, and helping students in the process. When I came here in 1995 the diversity at CMU was at 3.5 percent,” she said. “Luckily, it has grown to 5.7 percent there is an obvious presence of people of diversity and CMU is opened to diversity of religion and ethnic background.”
CMU has been striving to open more options to students out of state, and even internationally. Eke has been pushing forward Mount Pleasant to also embrace human rights.
“The course is Human Rights in literature film, and art. Hopefully next fall we will be able to offer it to graduate students. Currently the College Committee is overviewing the course, but I am confident it will be passed,” Eke said.
Eke is also developing a study abroad for the summer of 2013 to tour South Africa.
“The study aboard group is going to visit the hometown of Nelson Mendel as well as the court where he was tried. I think this will be a good opportunity for students to see a true human rights activists.”
Last year Eke helped develop a Human Rights committee on campus that was responsible for bringing global figures to CMU for a conference.
“Last year we offered an amazing committee that brought a lot of powerful people to CMU. Everywhere from Russia, India, Brazil and even Nigeria. We are going to do it again next November (tentatively) we want to do it every two years. It gives our students an opportunity to show them the world, but still stay at Central,” Eke said.