Kent State recognizes college, professor with diversity awards

Gershon Harrell

During the MLK celebration the College of Communication and Information and economics professor Kathryn Wilson were honored with this years Unity Award for Diversity and the Diversity Trailblazer Award.

Wilson received the 2018 Diversity Trailblazer Award for her work with the university climate study started in spring 2016.

“It was a survey that went to all faculty staff and students, across all of the campuses and it asked them questions about what it was like to study here, to work here, to learn here and questions about interactions with other people,” Wilson said.

The Diversity Trailblazer Award is given to those who contributed to diversity on Kent’s campus.

In her analysis, Wilson asked students if they felt respected by professors in the classroom.

“Our black and African-American students … answered that question very differently than our white students did across the board. Our students with disabilities, for a lot of questions … answered very differently.”

Wilson also found that LGBTQ students feel less valued by their peers but have a faculty member they consider to be a role model.

But even with those results, Wilson said people should keep in mind that the climate study was just a snapshot of a point in time.

“I don’t know if we took it again today…  it would look exactly the same,” Wilson said. “I think we’re doing a lot of things moving in the right direction.”

As for the College of Communication and Information, Dean Amy Reynolds accepted the 2018 Unity Award for Diversity on behalf of the team.

The Unity Award for Diversity reflects the contributions the college has made to enhance diversity, equity and inclusion for students and staff.

CCI has done numerous things when it comes to promoting diversity on Kent’s campus. They work with underrepresented students, low-income and first-generation college students. They also show how important diversity is to the college by hosting diversity week.

“It’s exciting,” Reynolds said. “This is a really important award because we really care a lot about diversity, inclusion (and) equity in everything that we do.”

CCI reached out to the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to work with them on their diversity tool kit for first year students. The kit consists of a resource packet of information that academic units can use to build diversity curriculum.

“We were the first college to reach out to build a diversity curriculum utilizing that tool kit,” said Amanda Leu, the academic diversity outreach coordinator.

The lesson is incorporated into the First Year Experience course for freshman.

“The main message is to encourage students to think about how diverse their universe is,” Leu said.

Leu encourages students to go out to different, diverse events.

“If it’s a LGBTQ student and they go to pride every week that’s great,” Leu said. “But go to something else! Go to a (Black United Students) meeting, go to a (Spanish and Latino Student Assocation) meeting, go to an international student event, go to something for disability awareness month.”

The reason why they received the 2018 Unity Award for Diversity is because the staff, the students and their leadership team are all working towards a common goal, Reynolds said.

“It’s really our entire college committed to this,” Reynolds said. “For me, as a dean, that’s what I find really rewarding.”

 Gershon Harrell is the diversity reporter. Contact him at [email protected].