Celebrating how far UGA has come but also challenging itself to push further, the university held its annual Embracing Diversity event Sept. 5 at the Chapel.
Victor Wilson, the new vice president for student affairs, delivered the keynote address in which he challenged the audience to continue striving to learn more about the diverse people who surround them and remove the obstacles to embracing diversity.
“It is when we immerse ourselves in those things that scare us terribly or seem different that we gain the most enlightenment,” Wilson said.
The event also gave UGA an opportunity to recognize the students receiving diversity scholarships as well as the faculty and staff who completed the UGA Diversity and Inclusion Certificate program.
Libby V. Morris, the interim senior vice president for academic affairs and provost, said diversity and inclusion-including race, gender, orientation, language and national origin-have an important role to play in education.
“Those differences, when they are used to teach and inform, add to the richness and depth of our educational experience,” Morris said.
In his keynote address, Wilson-in his first major speech in his new role-offered a few thoughts on the importance of embracing diversity.
One point of emphasis for Wilson was to remain continuously open to new ideas about diversity and to be careful about pigeonholing individuals based on our assumptions about them.
“We are always learning,” he said. “We are not and never will be experts.”
Wilson also said that he occasionally hears people question why it’s still important to talk about diversity.
That reminds him, he said, of the book he one day intends to write. He said he would title it The Power of the Tie.
The title, he said, comes from the fact that as an African-American male he gets treated differently when he is wearing a tie versus when he is not.
“If I can wear a piece of cloth around my neck and be treated better,” he said, “we still have a long way to go.”
Also at the event, three students were presented with scholarships for their efforts to encourage diversity.Chandler Greer, of Lawrenceville, was presented the Black Alumni Scholarship by the UGA Alumni Association. Lory Deoleo, of Lilburn, and Stefan Wah, of Locust Grove, each were awarded an UGA Athletic Association’s Diversity Scholarship.
Also recognized at the Embracing Diversity event were 76 faculty and staff who completed requirements for the university’s Diversity and Inclusion Certificate. The certificate is a partnership between the Office of Institutional Diversity and the UGA Human Resources Training and Development Center.
“The idea behind the certificate is not just to tell people to go ‘be diverse,’ ” said Randolph Carter, coordinator of faculty and staff development at OID. “It was more about giving people awareness of varying levels of diversity, to give them skills to be diverse and to give them hands-on tools they could use at every point in their work interacting with faculty, staff, students and visitors of the university in making sure the growing diversity of our university continues.”
Certificate recipients were Gerald Alderman, student financial aid; Keith Allen, Division of Academic Enhancement; Stephanie Artavia, Office of Institutional Diversity; Lindsey Barner, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences business office; Carolyn Burroughs, educational theory and practice; Brendan Carr, counseling and human development; Cilla Cartwright, history; Faye Chatman, Franklin College of Arts and Sciences dean’s office; Elaina Cochran, student financial aid; Kelly Cona, Georgia Center for Continuing Education Hotel and Conference Center; Michelle Cook, Office of Institutional Diversity; Becky Curry, student financial aid; Carolina Darbisi, Fanning Institute for Leadership Development; Sonuel Devlin, UGA police department; Juan Carlos Diaz-Perez, horticulture research coastal; Sheila England, University System of Georgia Applicant Clearinghouse; Michael Thomas Eskey, Campus Life; Lynn Faust, biological sciences; Joyce Flanigan, student financial aid; Monica Fowler, College of Education dean’s office; Roxanna Gandia-Laforet, University Housing; Michael Gantt, student financial aid; Deborah Gausvik, CAES business office; Sandra Gilbreth, USG Applicant Clearinghouse; Anthony Hansen, counseling and human development; Jonathan Hardy, Franklin College dean’s office; Kristie Harwell, student accounts; Shauna Hemingway, Graduate School; Steven Honea, Honors Program; Judy James, Office of Human Resources; Michele Johnson, Honors Program; Deirdre Kane, Terry College MBA programs; Sara Karlsson Looney, Small Business Development Center; Shannon Kennedy, plant biology; Heather LaBarbera, athletics; Carol Laws, Institute on Human Development and Disability; Donna M. LeBlond, journalism; Marsha Lecroy, Equal Opportunity Office; Katherine Lindell, veterinary teaching hospital; Gene Lou, environmental safety division; Susan Maier, microbiology; Magen Martin, housing; Alison McDaniel, Office of Global Programs; Michael McGough, College of Family and Consumer Sciences dean’s office; Sherry McLendon, student financial aid; Marie Mize, School of Law library; Chris Moon, Equal Opportunity Office; Amanda Patterson, Office of the Vice President for Student Affairs; Joan Pittman, Office of Institutional Diversity; Melissa Rackley, Georgia Museum of Art; Eric Rose, libraries; Jacquee Rosumny, kinesiology; Troy Rucker, student financial aid; Amanda Sands, student financial aid; Karen Saunders, University Health Center; Kelley Saussy, Career Center; Kimbra Smith, student financial aid; LaFarrah Smith, lifelong education, administration and policy; Vanessa Smith, Office of Institutional Diversity; Chalis Snowden, Office of the Vice President for Research; Cara Sonnier, Terry College MBA programs; Sean Sterrett, Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources; Kristopher Stevens, Equal Opportunity Office; Angelika Switon, University Housing; Darnell Tate, Oglethorpe Dining Hall; Kerry Terrell, Terry College MBA programs; Carla Topp, Disability Resource Center; Ashley Turner, plant pathology research; Christopher Tuttle, student financial aid; Christopher Waldrop, housing; Realenn Watters, alumni relations; Tony Wells, COE dean’s office; Harriet Wetzelberger, admissions; Michelle Wilder, Archway Partnership Project; Beth Wofford, University Health Center; and Kelly Wright, Office of Institutional Diversity.