About Us

The purpose of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA) is to support the academic, professional, and social growth of graduate students of color from underrepresented groups in academia. Formed in 1995 by seven NU graduate students, our membership now includes over 150 students. BGSA holds monthly meetings, discussions, annual barbeques, dinners and quarterly community service efforts as a means of promoting community amongst graduate students of color.

Reflections on the BGSA Legacy by Penny Warren

There has always been a small, dedicated group of minority students who are committed to the intellectual, social, and professional development of graduate students.  They want to discuss their research with colleagues and friends to affirm the relevance of their topics.  In the early 1990s there were not too many opportunities to students to do this.   Black Graduate students hosted conferences before BGSA was recognized as a student group by TGS in 1996.


The Gathering
As early as 1994 NU Black Graduate Students gathered at CIC conferences to network with other CIC Fellows, discuss their research, and develop their ideas.


Up Lift
Every student wanted and expected their colleagues to succeed. An environment of cooperation, encouragement, and collaboration was created.


1990 GLO newsletter was established by a sociology student. Dr. Avril Weathers, University of Missouri, St. Louis.


Our students conceived the idea of having their own conference and then had the know-how and perseverance to bring their idea to reality. To my knowledge, no other similar graduate-level student conference existed at NU prior to, at the time of, or after the inauguration of the BGSA conference.


I don’t have many details from the pre- 2000 BGSA conferences, but I remember elegantly hand written invitations at one conference and a small 4 x 6 size program with an hour-glass and sand running through at another.


Students who were integral in past conferences were: Dr. Phyllis Jackson, Art History, Pomona College, Claremont, CA, Department of Art & Art History, Associate Dr. Darrell Moore, Philosophy, DePaul University, Philosophy Department, Dr. William Grant, Radio/Television/Film.

Faculty Advisor

Faculty Advisor Penny Warren

Penny Warren is Assistant Dean of Student Life & Multicultural Affairs at The Graduate School.
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Faculty Advisor

Faculty Advisor Tamara Johnson

Dr. Tamara Johnson is Executive Director of Multicultural Student Affairs.
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Black Graduate Student Association Constitution