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Westphal Announces the Inaugural Awardees of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Anti-Racism Mini-Grants

November 10, 2023

The Westphal Dean’s Office of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (IDEA), in partnership with the Westphal Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council (DEIC), are pleased to announce the recipients of its inaugural IDEA-Development, Education, and Cultivation (DEC) Mini-grants. These small seed grants, in amounts between $500-1000 support projects that develop, educate, and cultivate inclusion, diversity, equity, and anti-racism in accordance with the College’s Strategic Plan.

The awardees and funded projects are as follows:

Glen Muschio: Club Zel-Mar 3D modeling project

Part of ongoing digital cultural heritage research into Philadelphia’s Historic Black Bottom neighborhood, this project endeavors to produce a 3D digital textured model of Club Zel-Mar. The model will be based on archival photos and available for viewing as part of the free and publicly accessible (with a smart phone) AR tour of the Black Bottom community of West Philadelphia, which is bounded by 32nd Street on the east, 40th Street on the west, Lancaster Avenue to the north, and South University Avenue to the south. Club Zel-Mar opened in 1947 at 37th & Market Streets. It and the entire Black Bottom neighborhood was razed in the 1950s and 1960s to make way for the first US science and technology center now known as the University City Science Center and for the expansions of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel campuses. Club Zel Mar was an important community gathering place as one of several prominent historic music venues in the Black Bottom. Club performers included Bill Carney’s Hi-Tones, which included band members, Shirley Scott, and John Coltrane before he joined the Miles Davis quintet. Other legendary performers including José Curbelo, of Mambo and the Cha-cha-cha fame, played the Club. This project engages student researchers, and includes the partnership of: Brent White, assistant teaching professor of Music; Sid Bolling, director of the Black Bottom Tribe Association; Walter Palmer, JD, lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania; and Katie Nash and Briana Cannon of the University City Science Center.

Mia Rosensaft: Establishing DU NOMAS Chapter

Students within the Department of Architecture, Design & Urbanism are in the process of establishing a Drexel University Chapter of the National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). The intentions for this student organization are to strengthen the fervor for minority architecture students, their relationships with each other, and their relationships with professors. The student organizers plan to prioritize a safe space for students of marginalized groups, speak out against bigotry, undermine ignorance and opposition, and most importantly, highlight the beauty of Westphal’s diversity. Faculty advisors include Mia Rosensaft, adjunct professor, and Alesa Rubendall, assistant teaching professor.

Jeffrey Stanley: Sultans and Soldiers

In partnership with Bangalore Little Theatre (affectionately known as BLT), Sultans and Soldiers: How Two Indian Muslim Kings Energized the Revolutionary War is a global playwriting competition. The collaboration aims to produce two or three English language short plays inspired by the little-known role India played in boosting the morale of colonial forces during the Revolutionary War. The competition is open to Drexel students in relevant disciplines; winning playwrights will receive mentorship and play development toward a virtual rehearsed reading with Bangalore Little Theatre.

Mark Stockton: Documentary Screening & Discussion | The Melt Goes On Forever: The Art and Times of David Hammons

This program aims to introduce students, faculty, and the community to the innovative work of David Hammons while making space for a talk-back with the directors, who can share the behind-the-scenes process and offer practical advice to aspiring filmmakers. The Melt Goes On Forever chronicles the singular career of the elusive African-American art star David Hammons from Watts rebellion era ’60s L.A. to global art world prominence today. Hammons’ category-defying practice – rooted in a deep critique of American society and the elite art world – is in the words of one art critic “an invitation to confront the fissures between races” as the artist seeks to go beyond the dominant culture and his own to a new one for the 21st century. Featuring eminent artists, curators and critics, a rich trove of archival footage, animation, and an evocative soundscape, The Melt is a record of the work of an artist who constantly defies the establishment and remains subversive at every turn.

Heather Moqtaderi: Protest Banner Workshop with Aram Han Sifuentes

The Leonard Pearlstein Gallery – programmed to coincide with the DAP (Design as Protest) exhibition – showcases large-scale photographs of Aram Han Sifuentes’s collaborative project Messages to Our Neighbors, in which she worked with high school youth in the Mural Arts Education program to create billboards exploring the intersection of citizenship, immigration, and belonging. The Pearlstein hosted an interactive protest banner making workshop with this dynamic visiting artist to directly engage the West Philadelphia and Mantua audiences, as well as Drexel students, faculty and staff. Aram Han Sifuentes is a social practice and fiber artist, writer, and educator who works to center immigrant and disenfranchised communities.

Monika Julien: Double Platinum Volume 2 | Celebrating Drexel Alumnae Shaping the Music Industry

Double Platinum Volume 2 is the continuation an annual zine that spotlights and celebrates women graduates of Drexel University who are currently working in and transforming the music industry. Anchored within the Women in The Music Industry course during Spring Term, this project gives students an opportunity to engage with alumnae who are actively shaping the industry's landscape. Students select and interview alumnae, and the interviews are then transcribed and compiled into the zine. By enabling this interaction between the students and alumnae, the project helps cultivate skills and behaviors such as empathy and active listening that are vital in both creative and professional settings. The goal of this project is not only to share the inspiring stories and perspectives of alumnae and create a meaningful opportunity for students to connect with graduates, but also to emphasize the crucial need for increased gender representation within the music industry. The zine and its creation symbolize a deliberate effort toward empowerment, inclusivity, and dialogue around this important topic.

Rozway Regmi: The South Asian Cinematic Experience

The South Asian Cinematic Experience is a five-week-long screening event, where we're planning to screen a film every Thursday evening. The films featured in this event will encompass a curated selection of South Asian cinema, ranging from contemporary masterpieces to timeless classics. These carefully chosen movies hold significant cultural and artistic importance, as they have played pivotal roles in shaping the storytelling traditions within the South Asian region. To immerse audiences further in the South Asian cinematic world, a delightful assortment of South Asian movie snacks will be offered, ones that are available in tailored to the country of origin for each weekly featured film.

Alphonso McClendon: Philadelphia Jazz City Unsung

Philadelphia: Jazz City Unsung is a visual retrospective fusing photography, neighborhood maps, art, literature, and music narratives of prominent African American jazz artists that traversed the city. Bessie Smith’s amazing life in Philadelphia will be told through an engaging experience, where the reader takes a journey up Broad Street where the events took place gaining education on the neighborhood, art, societal issues, and amusing happenings. Smith, Empress of the Blues, is strategic as the first performer to be highlighted as her path in the music industry and life demonstrated the strength of black Philadelphians to overcome odds and excel. She was assertive, bold, no-nonsense, authentic, and benevolent. Furthermore, Smith was living in Philadelphia, when she passed in a car accident and was laid to rest in Sharon Hill. Her home was Philadelphia, and her story should be told with our imprint. The project will have two outputs including: 1) a digital, interactive story map accessible via URL and social media; and 2) six posters 36”w x 48”h containing similar content in a dynamic format. Song recordings will be linked to YouTube, a third-party provider. Also, some vocal narration will be added as click-to-play elements. Access to this research and content has no cost and can be accessed by URL and social media via a laptop, desktop, and mobile phone.

Frank Lee: Bringing Dr. Theodore Kim as speaker to Drexel

Dr. Theodore Kim, Associate Professor of Computer Science at Yale University, has made significant and lasting contributions to his area of research in Computer Graphics. Recently, he has been making waves in his effort to call out and educate his colleagues in computer graphics research and the general research community on prevalence of racism in the data that we take it for granted in our scientific research. This was highlighted by his wonderful talk at SIGGRAPH 2021 on Anti Racism Graphics Research. The plan is to bring Dr. Kim to Drexel as a speaker on diversity and inclusion; Dr. Kim will also meet with graduate and undergraduate students.

Fashion Design program: Fashion Design Hosts…

This project is suite of events hosted by the Fashion Design program, intended to create an authentically inclusive program through curriculum, practice, and outreach. This work includes changes to Fashion coursework, functionality within design studios, and engagement with local and global communities, with the aim to develop more meaningful relationships. This series of extracurricular events during AY 23 – 24 focus on aspects of identity and advocacy that impact fashion and other creative industries. “The Art of Drag” featured drag performances by Brittany Lynn of Philly’s Drag Mafia and Drag Queen Story Time, and Morgan Wells, Drag Costumer Designer; also opportunities for design students to sketch, photograph, and film the performers to enhance their craft. Brittany Lynn spoke about her experience building up the drag community in Philadelphia and the advocacy work she does now; Morgan Wells spoke about her experience in both the performance and design realms of the drag community. Fashion Design will also host Dr. Kim Jenkins in February for an event titled “Fashion and Race Database: Creating an Inclusive Future for Fashion,” and in the spring, they’ll revive the successful “Suit Yourself” event with Kirrin Finch, which features fit sessions for trans, non-binary, and genderqueer students who struggle to find their right size in a binary consumer marketplace.


The Westphal IDEA-DEC Mini-grants are adjudicated by the DEIC under the leadership of Co-chairs Tia James and Jervis Thompson. The awardees represent the commitment of Westphal faculty, staff, and students to achieving the IDEA goals laid out in Westphal for All, the College’s five-year strategic plan.