KALAMAZOO, Mich.—The CHHS Committee for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been recognized with a 2021 Excellence in Diversity Award from the WMU Office of Diversity and Inclusion. Dr. Candy McCorkle, vice president for Diversity and Inclusion, came to the college in early August to present the award to members of the committee and to Dr. Betty Dennis, director of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at CHHS.
The award recognizes efforts made to impact the University by fostering and promoting an environment that is inclusive, diverse and equitable.
In January 2021, the college officially established its Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and named Dennis as the college's first director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. Since then, she has worked with college leadership and the DEI committee to move the college forward in a number of initiatives aimed at equity and inclusion, including cultural competency training for college staff and faculty and publishing diversity and equity data on the committee's website.
“We knew it was crucial to establish this office and we were very fortunate that Dr. Dennis agreed to step into this role,” says CHHS Dean Ron Cisler. “This recognition from the University affirms those decisions and highlights WMU’s commitment to this very important work.”
"For the future, we are working with our departments and schools to operationalize the college's Statement on Race and Antiracism," says Dennis. "This includes developing a code of ethics for the college, incorporating diversity, equity and inclusion in our student recruitment and community outreach activities, and promoting DEI initiatives through our CHHS Student Leadership Council."
The committee was previously recognized in 2019 with a Rising Star in Diversity Award. That award is given to members who are new contributors to the work of advancing diversity and inclusion on WMU's campus who have made a significant impact.
"You know, there's a lot to be done," says Dennis. "But this recognition shows that we're on the right track, or that we're starting to ask the right questions of ourselves."
In March 2022, the CHHS DEI committee will host its biennial Diversity and Inclusion Conference. In cooperation with the WMU Center for Humanities, the college will welcome Dr. Deirdre Cooper Owens, author of Medical Bondage, to deliver the morning keynote session.
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