Kent State Professor, Wick Poetry Center Earn University’s Diversity Awards

Molly Merryman, Kent State University associate professor of sociology and founding director of the Kent State Women’s Center, has been awarded the university’s 2016 Diversity Trailblazer Award. The annual Diversity Trailblazer Award recognizes diversity pioneers associated with Kent State who have displayed exemplary contributions to the area of diversity in the university.

Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center also was awarded the university’s first-ever Unity Award for Diversity, which recognizes the contributions of any university department that demonstrates significant contributions to the areas of diversity, equity, and/or inclusion.

Both awards were presented during the university’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which took place this year on Thursday, Jan. 28, in the Kent Student Center Ballroom. 

“Dr. Merryman was selected for this award from a very talented and committed group of individuals who serve our university,” said Curtis Good, co-chair of the award nomination committee and assistant dean in Kent State’s College of Nursing. “Specifically, the committee was impressed with the length of her contributions to the university, her services both within and outside the classroom, and her ability to engage with multiple parties in the university.”

Merryman, who has a Ph.D. in American culture studies from Bowling Green State University, joined Kent State in 1996. She was one of the faculty members who created the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Studies program in 2001, which was the first of its kind in Ohio. She is currently leading efforts to establish Kent State’s new Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, and also serves as director of LGBTQ and Women's Studies at the university. She is an ethnographic filmmaker who has directed five documentaries on subjects related to race, gender and sexual orientation equality and justice, which have been broadcast on regional PBS, and screened at international film festivals and conferences.

“I feel both honored and humbled to receive the Kent State University Diversity Trailblazer Award,” Merryman said. “I’m humbled because I am fortunate to have the education and opportunity to be a faculty member at Kent State, and honored because, as a person committed to diversity and social change, I believe that the Diversity Trailblazer Award is the greatest recognition I can receive from our university. It is a profound experience to realize that my perseverance and activism are recognized so positively.”

The Kent State Wick Poetry Center’s embodiment of the spirit of unity at the university earned it the Unity Award for Diversity.

“The center makes an impact at multiple levels at our university, and its message of understanding and inclusion is present in all of its activities,” Good said. “Additionally, the center works extensively outside the university to use the power of poetry in multiple venues. Its impact has been felt in its work with elementary schools and with veterans.”

Kent State’s Wick Poetry Center was established in 1984 by Robert Wick, a sculptor and former Kent State art faculty member, and his brother Walter Wick, in memory of their sons Stan (1962–1980) and Tom (1956–1973) Wick.

“I am honored that the Wick Poetry Center has received this year’s Unity Award for Diversity,” said David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center.  “At the core of our programming and outreach is the belief that poetry is a powerful tool to help us write across the borders of our lives and make meaningful connections with each other. This award is a testament to the commitment and passion of the Wick Poetry Center staff and the many Kent State students who assist in our community outreach.” 

For more information about Kent State’s Diversity Trailblazer Award, visit

For more information about Kent State’s Unity Award for Diversity, visit

For more information about Kent State’s Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, visit

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Photo Caption – click here for image:
David Hassler, director of the Wick Poetry Center, and Molly Merryman, Kent State professor, stand on each side of Alfreda Brown, vice president of Diversity Equity and Inclusion, after earning diversity awards at Kent State’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, which took place on Thursday, Jan. 28.

Media Contacts:
Shana Lee,, 330-672-8582
Kristin Anderson,, 330-672-7907

POSTED: Friday, January 29, 2016 - 2:00pm
UPDATED: Tuesday, April 12, 2016 - 4:24pm
Foluke Omosun