Campus News Society & Culture

New faculty award promotes diversity, inclusion

Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander’s lifework is being honored with the creation of a new award. The University of Georgia Associate Professor Emeritus taught employment law and legal studies in the Terry College of Business for 33 years. With more than 50 awards and recognitions for teaching and service, including several awards for outstanding teaching, Bennett-Alexander has devoted much of her career to making diversity and inclusion a priority for students and for businesses.

“There have been few professors at this institution who have cared more about student learning and student success than Dawn Bennett-Alexander,” said President Jere W. Morehead.  “During her long tenure, she made it her mission to ensure all students felt included, both inside and outside of the classroom.”

With funding from President Morehead’s Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, the Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander Inclusive Community Award will be given to a faculty member who has contributed extensive efforts to promoting diversity, equity and inclusiveness at UGA. The award, to be housed in the Office of Institutional Diversity, will be presented annually at the Embracing Diversity Celebration.

Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander in her home. (Photo by Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA)

“[Diversity] is not just something that’s on a sheet of paper. It’s not just a policy. You feel it when you are in that space. That’s what inclusion is about. That’s what belonging is about,” said Bennett-Alexander. “If diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging is actualized, a person truly feels it rather than it just being a policy pronounced from the top. I work for that every day.”

The Dawn D. Bennett-Alexander Inclusive Community award will recognize other faculty doing the important work of furthering diversity and inclusion at UGA.

“This award recognizes the significant contributions of our faculty in our diversity, equity and inclusion work,” said Michelle Cook, UGA’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion. “And it also signals to our faculty that the university values their effort in diversity, equity and inclusion overall.”

The call for nominations from deans begins April 1. The first award will be presented in fall 2021.