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Ione Vargus (Temple University)

More Than A Picnic: African American Family Reunions

Tuesday, September 10, 3:00-5:00 p.m.

Family structures in America have changed but people, regardless of race and ethnicity, have noted the diminishing of the extended family as a profound loss. As African American families have expanded their reunion activities from an afternoon picnic to a three-day event, they have revived crucial functions of the extended family. This is significant because the extended family had been a critical force for survival of Black families in this country. The reunion also has become a vehicle for imparting knowledge, inspiration and family empowerment. Benefits and purposes of African American family reunions will be discussed.


Biographical Statement: Ione Dugger Vargus is a Professor and Dean Emerita of Temple University and volunteer administrator/chair of the Family Reunion Institute of Temple University. Her several roles at the University included that of Presidential Fellow and Acting Vice Provost. As both the first African-American and the first woman academic dean in Temple's history, she served as the Dean of the School of Social Administration for 13 years. She has also held faculty and administrative positions at Brandeis University and University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. A native of Medford, Massachusetts, Dr. Vargus received a bachelor’s degree from Tufts University, a Master’s Degree from the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. from Brandeis University. She has published on several topics.

In 1986, she began her research on African American family reunions. She documented the growing use of reunions as a vehicle to impart knowledge, inspiration and family values. Guided by a desire to support the functioning and survival of extended families, she founded the Family Reunion Institute of Temple University in 1990. The Institute organizes an annual conference on African-American family reunions. A nationally acclaimed authority on family reunions, Dr. Vargus has been quoted in numerous national and local publications, and has appeared on a variety of radio and television shows.

Dr. Vargus is an Emeritus Trustee of Tufts University and is a former Chair of the Board of Managers of the Philadelphia Foundation. She is a Trustee of the Unitarian-Universalist Service Committee.


The MARIAL Center
Emory West, 4th Floor, Room 415E

Open to the public
Refreshments will be served

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The MARIAL Center is located on the 4th floor of the main building of Emory's Briarcliff Campus, 1256 Briarcliff Rd. From the main campus, take North Decatur Road to Briarcliff Road, turn left, and the Briarcliff Campus will be on your right. There is ample parking close to the building. The Emory shuttle (Route A) provides transportation from the main campus to the MARIAL Center every 20 minutes (a 5-10 minute ride). For the shortest travel time, board the shuttle in front of the B. Jones Center or at the corner of Dowman and Fishburne (across from Glenn Memorial) at approximately 4, 24, and 44 minutes after each hour. A complete schedule and the route map are available on the web at http://www.epcs.emory.edu/AltTransp/route-a.htm

Please tell the receptionist at the front window that you are here for the MARIAL Center lecture.