Kennesaw State celebrates inaugural winners of 2012-2013 Presidential Diversity Awards

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Contact: Robert S. Godlewski, rgodlews@kennesaw.edu, 770-499-3448

(Pictured L-R) Chief Diversity Officer Erik Malewski, Teresa Joyce, Jill Sloan, RC Paul, Derek Ridings, Jesse Benjamin, Flora Lowe-Rockett and President Daniel S. Papp

KENNESAW, Ga. (April 22, 2013) — Guided by the principles of diversity, equity, transparency and shared governance, Kennesaw State University today bestowed the 2012-2013 Presidential Diversity Awards on several individuals. The inaugural ceremony highlighted the University’s continued growth in its diverse population and its efforts to create a campus climate of respect and inclusiveness.

For this inaugural event, the Presidential Commissions on Disability Strategies and Resources, Gender and Work Life Issues, GLBTIQ Initiatives, Racial and Ethnic Dialogue, Sustainability, and Veterans Affairs called for nominations to recognize individuals who have exemplified the mission of each commission.

A large crowd of students, faculty and staff filled Prillaman Auditorium in KSU’s Health and Human Services Building for the event, at which the following six individuals were recognized with Presidential Diversity Awards:

  • Jill Sloan received the Carol J. Pope Award for Distinction in the Disability Strategies and Resources category. Her nomination noted her tireless work on the launch of the Academy for Inclusive Learning and Social Growth, which will improve opportunities for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities.
  • Flora Lowe-Rockett received Outstanding Contribution Award in the Gender and Work Life Issues category. Active in the Adult Learner Student Organization, she has been a champion for a childcare facility to serve the needs of students, faculty and staff with young children.
  • Teresa Joyce received Award for Excellence in the GLBTIQ Initiatives category. Her nomination noted her role in the Safe Space Program and in managing its endowment. She has been very active in leading KSU’s LGBT Summit for several years.
  • Jesse Benjamin received the R.O.H. Social Justice Award in the Racial and Ethnic Dialogue category. (R.O.H. honors three recently retired faculty members, Rosa Bobia, Oral Moses, and Harold Wingfield.) Benjamin’s student mentoring activities and his role as advisor to the AADS Student Organization were mentioned, as well as his work with the NAACP chapter at KSU.
  • RC Paul received the Award for Distinction in the Sustainability category. Often referred to as the “father of sustainability” at KSU, Paul was a driving force behind the creation of the Climate Commitment Council and KSU’s observance of Earth Hour and Earth Day.
  • Derek Ridings received the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award in the Veterans Affairs category for his outstanding service to the student-veteran community through many events and in his role as Veterans Senator in the KSU Student Government Association.

President Daniel S. Papp, Chief Diversity Officer Erik Malewski and the Presidential Commission Chairs acknowledged the contributions the award winners have made in the struggle to recognize, support, encourage, and ultimately to foster the success of their respective communities and individuals.

“Today, we celebrate the accomplishments of our colleagues, epitomizing our inclusive excellence,” said Papp. “The individuals honored today stand on the shoulders of the others who came before them. It is impossible to mention everyone who contributed to diversity on our campus.”

A member of the KSU President’s Cabinet and a professor of curriculum studies, Malewski pointed to the significance of today’s event.

“Today’s event helps us raise the profile of the president’s six commissions on diversity,” Malewski said. “Our mission at KSU is to prepare students who are culturally competent. It’s our ethical responsibility to do so.”

He continued, “We acknowledge the contributions these leaders have made in the struggle to recognize, support, encourage, and ultimately to foster the success of communities and individuals who have not always been as welcomed as others.”

Beverly Guy-Sheftall, who is founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College and adjunct professor at Emory University’s Institute for Women’s Studies, was the keynote speaker at the reception following the awards event. She praised Kennesaw State’s efforts on diversity and inclusiveness, but reminded the audience that many challenges lie ahead “especially at this juncture in our national history.”

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Kennesaw State University is the third-largest university in Georgia, offering 80 graduate and undergraduate degrees, including doctorates in education, business and nursing, and a new Ph.D. in international conflict management. A member of the University System of Georgia, Kennesaw State is a comprehensive, residential institution with a growing population of 24,600 students from more than 130 countries.