Kennesaw State celebrates winners of 2013-2014 Presidential Diversity Awards

Ceremony honors principles of diversity, equity, transparency and shared governance

(Pictured L-R) Jordan Cameron, Jodie Sweat, Sgt. Jonathan Dotson, Laura Davis, Flora Devine, Yen Rodriguez, Michael Sanseviro and Erik Malewski. Photo credit: David Caselli 

 

Kennesaw State University Chief Diversity Officer Erik Malewski bestowed the 2013-2014 Presidential Diversity Awards on seven individuals in April. The second annual event, held at the Prillaman Auditorium in KSU’s Health and Human Services Building, highlighted the University’s continued growth in its diverse population and its efforts to create a campus climate of respect and inclusiveness.

Guest speaker Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the 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, praised Kennesaw State for its progress to date on race, ethnicity and inclusion.

However, she reminded the audience that there is much more work to be done, and she called on all institutions of higher learning to increase diversity among faculty and students.

“We must believe we can eliminate every fear or prejudice,” Guy-Sheftall said. “We have the power to change the world in which we live.” 

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. Malewski said the Presidential Diversity Awards, which represent important campus initiatives, pay tribute to the principles of diversity, equity, transparency and shared governance.

Award winners

Jordan Cameron, IT client support professional in the Distance Learning Center, received the Carol J. Pope Award for Distinction in the Disability Strategies and Resources category. Her nomination noted “she is a leader in educating colleagues about the importance of making web-based learning materials accessible for all students. As a result of her advocacy, DLC Instructional Designers are helping online faculty across the university focus more on making their courses 508 compliant, and thus more accessible for all KSU students.” 

Laura Davis, coordinator of Gender and Women's Studies and associate professor of English, received Outstanding Contribution Award in the Gender and Work Life Issues category. Davis’ nomination highlighted “her commitment to promoting an inclusive campus environment, the initiatives she has taken in developing projects addressing gender and work life issues, and the incredible effort she puts forth on a daily basis. Davis is passionate about working to increase awareness of gender and work life issues at Kennesaw State and in the larger community.”

Michael Sanseviro, dean of Student Success and part-time instructor of education, received the Teresa M. Joyce Award for Excellence in the GLBTIQ Initiatives category. His nomination noted that “he approaches his role with big-picture thinking, while remaining sensitive to the needs of the diverse populations of our community. Each of his accomplishments not only illustrates improvements to diversity and inclusion efforts on campus, but also leaves a legacy for current and future members of the GLBTIQ population.”

Two individuals, Flora Devine and Yen Rodriguez, received the R.O.H. Social Justice Award in the Racial and Ethnic Dialogue category. (R.O.H. honors three retired faculty members, Rosa Bobia, Oral Moses, and Harold Wingfield.)

Devine, general counsel and special assistant to the president, was selected as a great example of a pioneer for racial and ethnic diversity at Kennesaw State University. Her nomination noted “the programs that she has put into place address diversity in areas of sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. Devine continues to champion for all women and persons of color.”

Rodriguez, a KSU graduate student, was selected as "a champion for those who are voiceless and unable to fight for themselves." His nomination noted that “because of his perseverance, many victories have been won in his own life and in the lives of others. With more people like Rodriguez in the world, justice will be served and equality will be the norm.”

Jodie Sweat was selected to receive R.C. Paul Excellence in Sustainability Award. Her nomination noted her ongoing efforts implementing and promoting sustainable practices as the new standard of operating practice for the Physical Plant Division. “Under her direction, the utilities team’s energy-saving initiatives have resulted in significant cost savings; chemical use has been reduced by 40%; and recycling efforts have been increased through a single stream recycling program.”

Sgt. Jonathan Dotson, U.S.M.C was selected to receive the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award. “After several deployments," noted his nomination, "Dotson has continued to set an exemplarily example of leadership and service by serving as an officer in the Semper Fi Society, advocating for veterans as a Senator with the KSU Student Government Association, and serving as a peer mentor with the Veterans Resource Center.” Passionate about assisting his fellow veterans, his determination has been instrumental in the development of several “veteran friendly” policies at KSU.

By Robert S. Godlewski