The Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse was founded through a generous gift from Shelley E. Padnos and Carol Sarosik in response to an increasing need for civil discourse as a preferred framework for addressing vital human issues.
Today’s college students graduate into a world of challenging social, political, and economic issues made all the more complex by changing demographics and globalization. Health care, education, immigration, gender roles and sexuality, community violence, employment opportunities, and generational poverty, for example, pose difficult and inescapable issues on which community members and leaders are often deeply divided. Responding to complex 21st century issues issues in a way that promotes peace, justice, and respect for the dignity of all persons requires citizens and leaders who are skilled in listening closely, understanding and appreciating human differences, and promoting informed and respectful dialogue.
The programming associated with the Padnos/Sarosik Professorship of Civil Discourse will systematically enable Grand Valley State University students to develop the concepts, skills, and practices to bring people with divergent views to the table for respectful dialogue and problem-solving.
Jack Lessenberry, senior political analyst for Michigan Radio and veteran newspaper journalist, gave the inaugural lecture during the introduction of the Padnos/Sarosik Endowed Professorship of Civil Discourse on November 20, 2013 at the DeVos Center.
At this inaugural event, the first faculty member to hold the professorship was introduced. Lisa M. Perhamus, assistant professor of education, was selected as the first endowed professor of civil discourse and was presented with a certificate and a custom made medallion. Her two-year term was January 1, 2014 - December 31, 2015.
The second Padnos/Sarosik Professor of Civil Discourse was announced on November 19, 2015, and is currently held by Dr. Jack R. Mangala, Associate Professor of African and African American Studies and Political Science, for a two-year term beginning January 1, 2016.