Profiles of Black Excellence: Scott Wilkes

Scott Wilkes headshot

In honor of Black History Month, we spoke with some of our Black faculty members to find out what the month means to them and how they plan on observing it. 

Scott Wilkes, assistant dean of academic affairs and assistant professor, chose the social work profession due to the influence of a number of high school and college professors who had a tremendous impact on him. He was also always fascinated by the human condition and derived great personal and professional satisfaction from helping people.

Wilkes joined the Mandel School's field education department in 2007 as a field faculty advisor and assumed leadership for the department in 2011 as director of field education. He has more than 15 years of experience working in the area of child welfare.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is a time to reflect on our collective past, honor the legacies of our ancestors and celebrate the vast contributions of all Black Americans.

Is there an event, moment or individual in Black history that has influenced you personally or professionally?

Recently, my wife and I had an opportunity to travel to Memphis, Tennessee. While there, we took a tour of the Civil Rights Museum. It is literally housed in the Lorraine Motel, the site of Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. I highly recommend it. While there I was struck by the Mountaintop speech given by MLK on the eve of his assassination. It is a highly moving and profound moment in our history. There are two things that strike me most about that speech. One, how prophetic it is and how much you can see the resolve, strength and determination in his eyes. Secondly, it makes me reflect on "the night before" major historical events. I am curious about what happens, what people feel and what they might anticipate the night before major life-changing and world-altering events.

What role should educational institutions play in ensuring Black history and culture are integrated throughout the curriculum?

I believe educational institutions have an affirmative duty to make sure all cultures are fully represented in the curriculum, student population, faculty and staff. Unless and until there is full and equal representation, we are not getting the best out of our educational institutions. However, we all share a responsibility to ensure that happens.

How do you plan on observing Black History Month?

I tend to become more reflective and mindful of my own journey of racial identity and awareness during Black History Month. I will likely enjoy the offering of local programs and events throughout the Cleveland area.

Share any upcoming talks, events or projects.

Since I am really into art, I plan to see the current exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Cleveland. It has an exhibition of works by Nina Chanel Abney and Amber N. Ford. It should be fascinating!

See how the Mandel School is celebrating Black History Month