Coronavirus (COVID-19) Updates →

Please click here for the latest information regarding Benedictine University's response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Michelle Duster, great-granddaughter of civil rights pioneer Ida B. Wells, to speak at Benedictine University

January 24, 2019

Michelle DusterAward-winning author, speaker, and educator Michelle Duster will headline an event at Benedictine University titled Making a Difference by Raising Your Voice on February 6, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Goodwin Auditorium, 5700 College Road, Lisle, IL.

A Chicago native and author or co-author of nine books including Michelle Obama’s Impact on African American Women and Girls, Duster has spent more than 20 years promoting the contributions of women and African Americans, including the impact made by her great-grandmother.

“At Benedictine we take great pride in hosting special events like this one to involve the University community in meaningful dialogue around issues of social justice and inequality,” said Professor Jane Boumgarden. “We’re thrilled Michelle and Dr. Austin can help us further promote one of the University’s core values, which is to engage in dialogue with others.”

A graduate from Dartmouth College, where she has earned numerous honors, most recently the 2019 Martin Luther King Jr. Social Justice Award, Duster also works tirelessly to preserve the legacy of her great grandmother. In 1989 she co-produced a PBS film, Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice and she is currently the president of Ida B. Wells Memorial Foundation. In addition, she helps support the Ida B.Wells-Barnett Museum in Holly Springs, Mississippi, is a member of the Ida B. Wells Commemorative Art Committee and on July 25, 2018, she worked with the Chicago City Council to rename Congress Parkway to Ida B. Wells Drive. It was the first downtown Chicago street to be named after an African American woman.

Along with Duster, Dr. James Austin, President of the JFA Institute will also speak at the upcoming Benedictine event. A former director of the Institute on Crime, Justice and Corrections at George Washington University, Austin works with federal, state, and local government agencies, and philanthropic foundations to evaluate criminal justice practices and design research-based policy situations. Dr. Austin has also served as the project director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance-funded corrections options technical assistance program.

“Our University is committed to educating our students on social issues that are relevant to all communities,” said Boumgarden. “We want to prepare them from all aspects of University life to be future leaders and globally responsible citizens.”

For more information on the Making a Difference by Raising Your Voice event, contact Jane Boumgarden at (630) 829-6230 or


Benedictine University is located in Lisle, Illinois, just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has a branch campus in Mesa, Arizona. Founded as a Catholic university in 1887, Benedictine enrolls nearly 5,000 students in undergraduate and graduate programs. Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the ninth consecutive year in 2019. Benedictine University was also named the second-safest campus in the country and safest campus in Illinois by in 2019. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. For more information about the University, contact (630) 829-6300, or visit

Marketing and Communications

Marketing and Communications
(630) 829-1948

Benedictine University Lisle Campus