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Diversity Excellence Awards luncheon held April 14; award winners announced

April 15, 2010 -- Arkansas State University-Jonesboro's 6th annual Diversity Excellence Awards luncheon recognized several individuals for their contributions toward strategic diversity initiatives at ASU-Jonesboro. The awards are presented by ASU's Office of Diversity Initiatives.

Dr. Osabuohein Amienyi,  chair and professor of Radio-Television, was the recipient of the 2010 Diversity Excellence Award. The Diversity Excellence Award recognizes individual faculty members, faculty groups, academic departments or academic units that demonstrate the highest commitment to enhancing excellence through diversity. The program recognizes efforts to enhance diversity in a myriad of ways. Other nominees for this year's Diversity Excellence Award included the ASU Museum, Dr. Thomas J. Fiala, Teacher Education, the Department of Residence Life, under the direction of Patrick Dixon, and the Department of Social Work, chaired by Dr. Barbara Turnage.

The Friends of Diversity awards were presented to Henry Torres, director, Interactive Teaching and Technology Center, Dr. John Pratte, chair of Chemistry and Physics and professor of Physics, and Dr. Jeanine Weekes Schroer, Philosophy.

Entertainment at the luncheon was provided by members of the ASU Jazztette, directed by Dr. E. Ron Horton, and members of the ASU Men's Quartet, directed by Dr. Dale Miller.

Dr. Lonnie Williams, associate vice chancellor, Student Affairs, delivered the invocation, and Dr. Glen Jones, senior associate vice chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, welcomed guests to the ceremony. Dr. Sherece West, president and CEO of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, gave the keynote presentation.

West is nationally known for her leadership in the areas of community development, public policy, and, most recently, disaster recovery. West’s career path began at the Social Security Administration and wound its way through the Maryland Municipal League, the Washington D.C. Department of Public Health, the Community Service Society of New York City, the Ford Foundation, and the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Her grants areas include housing, community development, race, culture and power and managing the foundation’s investments in youth mobilization, engagement, and leadership. She has also served as president and CEO of the Carrier Foundation, dedicated to improving the life chances of disadvantaged children and families in southwest Louisiana. Shortly after West arrived in Louisiana, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck, and after just two months on the job, she was asked to help lead the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation (LRDF), first as an executive and subsequently as its Chief Executive Officer. LRDF is committed to promoting equity and inclusion as communities build back in Louisiana, a mission that dovetails with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation vision of Arkansas as a state where economic, racial, and social justice is universally valued and practiced.

West holds a Doctor of Philosophy in Public Policy from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County; a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy; and a Bachelor of Arts from Bowie State University. She was a Fellow with the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Policy Institutes and a 2003–04 Emerging Leaders Fellow – a joint program of Duke University and the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Kyla Dollar, assistant to Dr. Glen Jones and luncheon organizer, recognized those faculty who had excelled in diversity research this year. Diversity research grants were awarded to the team of Dr. Irina Khramtsova, Psychology, Dr. David Saarnio, Psychology, and Nick Taggart, director, The International Center for English (TICE); Dr. Alyson Gill, Art, Dr. Aiqun Hu, History, and Dr. Guitele Rahill, Social Work.

Diversity Fellow Melanie Richardson spoke about the Brother 2 Brother mentoring program, which provides an avenue to increase the graduation rates of African-American male students at ASU. Brother 2 Brother creates a nurturing environment through promoting campus connectedness, providing academic support, and emphasizing character development and community service and community, civic, and political responsibility.
 Richardson introduced Brother 2 Brother program member Gregory Wilson, who will graduate magna cum laude this spring with dual majors in accounting and corporate finance and will begin work with J.P. Morgan Chase and Co.

Dr. Glen Jones presented the awards and the closing remarks.

For more information about the Office of Diversity Initiatives at ASU-Jonesboro, visit the office online or contact Kyla Dollar at (870) 972-2030.

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