Kent State Honors Economics Professor and College of Communication and Information With 2018 Diversity Awards
For Kathy Wilson, Ph.D., diversity means not just having a campus where everyone should be included, respected and comfortable, but where people actually feel that way. Now, thanks to her hard work and dedication, that positive feeling is growing exponentially across the entire university.
As a professor of economics, Dr. Wilson’s research has mostly focused on inequality and poverty. She recently led an initiative to give every member of the Kent State community the opportunity to add their voice to the conversation about the university’s climate to strengthen diversity overall.
Kent State recognized Dr. Wilson’s efforts by presenting her with the Diversity Trailblazer Award at the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration on Jan. 25. Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion awards the annual Diversity Trailblazer Award to individuals for their contributions toward diversity in the university community. Kent State’s College of Communication and Information also was presented with the Unity Award for Diversity, which recognizes Kent State departments that are committed to implementing diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“Dr. Wilson was selected for the 2018 Diversity Trailblazer Award because of her extensive record of progressive change in the areas of inclusive excellence and diversity,” says Carmen Roberts, interim chair of Kent State’s Diversity Awards Committee.
Dr. Wilson successfully spearheaded the University Climate Study and is leading efforts to implement the results toward a more inclusive campus. This includes conducting additional analysis of the climate study data and preparing climate study reports specific to each college and division.
“I am honored to be the recipient of this award,” Dr. Wilson says. “I know how much diversity means to me, particularly the ways that my life has been enhanced by the diverse community of Kent State. What makes it even more special is I consider this to be an award that is shared with the almost 9,000 students, staff and faculty who took the time to complete the climate survey about their experience at Kent State. Their voices were indeed heard, and are continuing to affect positive change.”
Dr. Wilson says that working on the University Climate Study has been fulfilling because of the level of commitment across Kent State’s eight-campus system to making the university a welcoming place for all students, faculty and staff.
“In dozens of meetings presenting climate survey results, I have seen the sincere desire to use the results to reinforce what we are doing well and improve those areas where we can do better,” Dr. Wilson says.
Kent State’s College of Communication and Information was recognized with the 2018 Unity Award for Diversity for implementing a variety of diversity courses as part of its curriculum, creating successful diversity programs, and dedicating faculty and staff to diversity initiatives within the college and the university.
The College of Communication and Information was one of the first colleges to create a full-time academic diversity outreach position. It also was the first college to work collaboratively with the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to use the University Diversity Action Council (UDAC) Diversity Toolkit to develop a college-wide diversity curriculum for First-Year Experience courses. Amy Reynolds, Ph.D., dean of the College of Communication and Information, who accepted the award on behalf of the college, says these and other efforts have resulted in measurable student success. Dr. Reynolds says the college’s advising team, in collaboration with its academic outreach coordinator, conducts strategic outreach throughout the year, which has led to one of the highest underrepresented student retention rates on campus.
“This award is incredibly meaningful to all of us in the College of Communication and Information,” Dr. Reynolds says. “It’s terrific to know that our colleagues on campus support our efforts and that we are on the right path in an area that is so vital. We know that an inclusive environment rich with people who have diverse backgrounds, perspectives and ideas is critical to the future of all of our professional disciplines and to society as a whole. Everyone in our college is fully committed to continuing our progress. Diversity, equity and inclusion are guiding principles, central to who we are and everything we do.”
For more information about the Diversity Trailblazer Award, visit www.kent.edu/diversity/diversity-trailblazer-award.
For more information about the Unity Award for Diversity, visit www.kent.edu/diversity/unity-award-diversity.
For more information about Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, visit www.kent.edu/diversity.