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Exploring Economic Opportunity

Gain new perspectives to drive community action


The Queens University of Charlotte community students, faculty and staff – will spend the fall 2018 semester focused on the topic of economic opportunity. We are a community who is committed not only to the pursuit of learning, but to the experience of collaboration, gaining new perspectives, civil discourse and community application.

The experience begins with broad topic understanding and critical analysis. As we progress we narrow our focus to key imperatives followed by regional application and localized reflection.

We invite the Charlotte community to join us in this learning experience. Community participation is a critical element for comprehensive learning. All programs open to the Charlotte community are free of charge and the few exclusive to the Queens community have been designed for easy replication by community individuals and groups.

Learning Opportunities

Action 1: Read a Book

September 28 & October 26

Queens’ students, faculty and staff are participating in book clubs during Common Hour. We will be reading Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance and Color & Character: West Charlotte High School and the American Struggle over Educational Equality by Pamela Grundy.

Queens faculty and staff can register by emailing We invite community members to join us in  reading these books, too.

Action 2: Attend the Economic Opportunity Perspective Series

October 4, October 18 & November 13 at 6 p.m. in Duke Energy Auditorium (lower level of Rogers Hall)
Free; registration required for community members. Students do not need to register.

Join Queens academic leadership and community members to view economic mobility and social capital through the eyes of a historian, healthcare provider and first generation college attendee. This three-part series runs the three weeks leading up to J.D. Vance’s Charlotte visit. Topics are shared themes of Hillbilly Elegy and Leading on Opportunity taskforce recommendations.

Register Now 

Thursday, October 4 |  First Generation College Attendees’ Perspective on Community

In partnership with Leading on Opportunity and The Charlotte Business Journal, Queens hosts a conversation with two Leading on Opportunity council members on ways to expand and strengthen pathways to success for first generation college students.

Faculty Facilitator:
Dr. Timothy J. Brown, Dean, Knight School of Communication, Queens

Community Guest Speakers:
Kandi Deitemeyer, President, Central Piedmont Community College
Federico Rios, Immigrant and Integration Manager, City of Charlotte

Two of every three new jobs now require some level of postsecondary education – training credentials, an associate’s degree, a four-year degree or higher in a rapidly changing job market. Unfortunately, a wide gap exists in graduation rates between students from first generation or low-income families and those from higher income families. Engage with two Leading on Opportunity Council members and first generation college attendees as they share their personal stories, insights and perspectives on their educational journeys and recommendations to provide support for first generation college students. The power of social capital (networks) to equip students with the skills and education they need to build and support thriving families will also be discussed.


Thursday, October 18  |  Historians’ Perspective on Wealth and Racial Segregation

Segregation runs deeper than what’s visual to the eye. Longstanding historical patterns have and continue to shape today’s economic opportunity. Understand not only what has happened in the past, but understand how today’s choices make tomorrow’s history.

Faculty Facilitator:
Dr. Robert Whalen, Carolyn G. and Sam H. McMahon, Jr., Professors, History Department, Queens

Community Guest Speakers:
Dr. Pamela Grundy, Author, Color & Character
Dr. Jennifer Dixon-McKnight, Assistant Professor of History, Winthrop University

Tuesday, November 13 | Healthcare Providers' Perspective on Education and Resource Stability

To deliver effective long-term care, today’s healthcare providers must be alert to not only their patient’s immediate needs, but the holistic condition of their families and their communities. Learn how providers are engaged in health inequity, social determinants of health and access to healthcare.

Faculty Facilitator:
Dr. Tama Morris, Dean, Blair College of Health Science, Queens

Community Guest Speaker:
Dr. David Martin Cook, SVP Population Health and Value Based Care at Novant Health and Founder and Medical Director of Lake Norman Community Clinic

Action 3: Join the Conversation with J.D. Vance

Student Lecture
October 23 at 4:30 p.m. at Belk Chapel
Queens students and faculty only

Community Lecture
October 23 at 6 p.m. at Knight Theater
This event is sold out

Purchase tickets to the evening discussion with J.D. Vance moderated by Richard Reeves, Senior Fellow at The Brookings Institution.

Action 4: Participate in On the Table CLT Discussion

October 24 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the Crown Room
Free with light bites provided; registration required

Queens is a host site for the annual On the Table program. This year’s topic is The Legacy of Segregation and Its Continued Impact. On The Table CLT is a day for Mecklenburg County residents to come together and talk about ways to make our community more connected, dynamic, and opportunity-rich. Last year more than 5,000 people gathered as small groups in homes, parks, businesses, libraries, and restaurants to interact and exchange ideas.

Register by emailing

Action 5: Hear from West Charlotte Alumni

October 30 from 6-7 p.m. in the Crown Room at Queens
Free; registration required for community members. Students do not need to register.

A panel of engaged community members who graduated West Charlotte share their Charlotte-centric educational experiences.

 Dr. Pamela Grundy, author, Color & Character: West Charlotte High School and the American Struggle over Educational Equality

Jesse Cureton, West Charlotte ‘78, Queens University of Charlotte, MBA ‘02
Madge Hopkins, West Charlotte alumna and former vice principal
Burch Mixon, West Charlotte '80

Register by emailing

Action 6: Learn Lessons from the Past & Lessons for the Future

November 7 from 6-7 p.m. in Belk Chapel
Free; registration required 
for community members. Students do not need to register.

Author lecture by Dr. Pamela Grundy. At a time when race and inequality dominate national debates, the story of West Charlotte High School illuminates the possibilities and challenges of using racial and economic desegregation to foster educational equality. West Charlotte opened in 1938 as a segregated school that embodied the aspirations of the growing African American population of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the 1970s, when Charlotte began court-ordered busing, black and white families made West Charlotte the celebrated flagship of the most integrated major school system in the nation. But as the twentieth century neared its close and a new court order eliminated race-based busing, Charlotte schools resegregated along lines of class as well as race. West Charlotte became the city’s poorest, lowest-performing high school—a striking reminder of the people and places that Charlotte’s rapid growth had left behind. While dedicated teachers continue to educate children, the school’s challenges underscore the painful consequences of resegregation.

Drawing on nearly two decades of interviews with students, educators, and alumni, Pamela Grundy uses the history of a community’s beloved school to tell a broader American story of education, community, democracy, and race—all while raising questions about present-day strategies for school reform.

Register by emailing

Action 7: Take a Tour

Friday, November 16

Catch a ride on the Community Building Initiative Bus Tour. The tour is an innovative, interactive approach to bringing the history of Charlotte to life, while exploring how our shared history and “what’s in the ground” in our community impacts our present and our future. Tours have been developed in collaboration with Tom Hanchett (Levine Museum of the New South) and John Howard (City of Charlotte, Historic Districts Commission).

Members of the Queens’ community will have the opportunity to participate in the bus tour, but individual community members can sign up for public tours directly through Community Building Initiative Charlotte.

Queens students, faculty and staff can submit interest by emailing

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