WMU awards recognize diversity and inclusion efforts

Contact: Deanne Puca

KALAMAZOO, Mich.-- Western Michigan University will recognize campus efforts toward promoting diversity and inclusion by honoring three recipients of Excellence in Diversity Awards during a ceremony at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 6, in the Multicultural Center in the Adrian Trimpe Building.

Dr. Kirsty Eisenhart, director of developmental math in the Department of Mathematics; the Graduate College, and the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the College of Health and Human Services will receive this distinguished Universitywide honor for exemplifying outstanding efforts in diversity and inclusion.

"The committee selected the three recipients from a competitive group of nominees" says Dr. Candy McCorkle, WMU vice president for diversity and inclusion. "This award demonstrates that WMU sees the necessity for us as a community to value diversity and inclusion. Often, it is assumed that diversity and inclusion have to be the work of those directly charged with the work. But, as these awards demonstrate, diversity and inclusion are the work and passion of the campus."

Trailblazer for Diversity Award

Photo of Dr. Kirsty Eisenhart.

Dr. Kirsty Eisenhart

Eisenhart was selected for the Trailblazer for Diversity Award for demonstrating innovation in her efforts to incorporate diversity into her work on campus and for being committed to further developing sustainable practices that will positively impact the University.

Nominators said she has surpassed the role of merely teaching but intentionally creating a classroom environment that was inclusive. As a math instructor, she has modeled for faculty how to create a learning environment that is truly inclusive for students with disabilities. She continuously revises her curriculum to ensure inclusivity as well as creating spaces in which students have access and are connected to resources. Eisenhart's efforts contribute to student retention. A nominator describes her as "selfless," as evidenced by her offering of her time to students to provide tutoring and delivering math content in a non-visual manner to better assist students with visual impairments.

Excellence in Diversity Award

The Graduate College is the recipient of the Excellence in Diversity Award for its long-standing efforts in recruiting and retaining diverse students. Some examples are the intentional development of mechanisms to support historically underrepresented graduate students financially, academically and socially. The college offers fellowships, notably the King Parks Chavez Future Faculty Fellowship, the Thurgood Marshall Doctoral Fellowship, mentorship programs and professional development opportunities for graduate students. To provide strong support for historically underrepresented graduate students, the Graduate College offers assistance to educate faculty on being effective mentors for these students, especially in understanding the impact of microaggressions and bias experienced by these students. A nominator writes, "Included in the efforts to recruit, retain, support and graduate a diverse population of students…we actively partner with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to develop a pipeline for student recruitment." In addition, the Graduate College had several letters of support from faculty, alumni who have benefited from the efforts and a retired administrator.

The Rising Star in Diversity Award

The Rising Star in Diversity Award 2019 recipient is the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion for the College of Health and Human Services, with members who are new contributors to the work of advancing diversity and inclusion on WMU's campus who have made a significant impact. As many of the academic colleges have begun to create diversity committees, CHHS has been intentional in ensuring that the membership of its diversity committee is diverse. The group is committed to sharing an inclusive perspective of diversity and multiculturalism. The CHHS Diversity Committee in the past year has offered support and programs to faculty, staff and students to create an environment that is welcoming to all. The committee has actively engaged in preparing staff, faculty and community affiliates to share the college's belief in an inclusive environment that is reflective in the classroom and the health care profession. The college hosts a biennial one-day diversity and inclusion conference for students, faculty, staff and community members. To quote a nominator, "This committee exemplifies what diversity and inclusion really means."

About the awards

The Excellence in Diversity awards begin in 2012 at WMU to honor the work that is being done across campus to transform it into a truly diverse and inclusive environment that creates opportunities for all to contribute.

The awards reflect the efforts groups or individuals are making to support the Diversity and Multiculturalism Action Plan, or DMAP, as well as the three pillars of the WMU mission to be learner centered, discovery driven and globally engaged.

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