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MSU holds 30th annual Excellence in Diversity Awards Ceremony

February 12, 2020
President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. gives his welcome speech at the Excellence in Diversity Awards. This was the first time Stanley has attended and spoken at this ceremony.
President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr. gives his welcome speech at the Excellence in Diversity Awards. This was the first time Stanley has attended and spoken at this ceremony. —
Photo by Maddie Monroe | The State News

The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives held the 30th annual All-University Excellence in Diversity Awards ceremony Tuesday at the Kellogg Center. The ceremony honored many people from Michigan State who excelled with their efforts regarding diversity.

The event was moderated by Paulette Granberry Russell, senior advisor to the president for diversity and director of the Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives.

“The number and quality of the efforts made by our members, who are part of the Spartan family, over the last 30 years, is a legacy that all of us can be inspired by and extremely proud of,” Russell said. “Today, we come together as a community to celebrate the 2020 excellence in diversity awardees and recognize the winners of other student-based diversity programs at Michigan State University.”

Guests and honorees at the event were welcomed by MSU President Samuel L. Stanley, Jr.

“Today's awardees have distinguished themselves with their contributions to the important conversations we need to have and to build a more respectful and welcoming campus community,” Stanley said. “I really believe that such a community will give us vital new perspectives that will inform our work and our relationships. diversity, equity and inclusion are really foundational values for everything we're trying to do at MSU.”

In his speech, President Stanley also spoke on the recent incident at the Wharton Center, and how the efforts of those being awarded are becoming more and more important.

“As recent events on our campus have shown, MSU has much, much more work to do to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion and to raise awareness of racial bias,” Stanley said. “I expressed my concern and offered my thoughts in an email last week that went out to the campus community and to our alumni around the world. In the letter, I pointed out that the responsibility of creating a truly inclusive campus should not fall on one person, but has to be a shared priority for all of us. All of us must confront the personal attitudes that make it difficult for us to move forward.”

Numerous awards were given at the ceremony, including the 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Advancing Inclusion Through Research Award, which went to three students who showcased the legacy of MLK through research.

“Students submitted MSU research papers and creative projects on topics of diversity, equity and inclusion in order to be considered,” said Amber Benton, Director of Diversity & Student Engagement.

A team of students was also awarded from the 18th Annual Multicultural Heroes Hall of Fame Case Competition at the event.

“We have developed a program and an educational case competition that focuses on improving student knowledge of multicultural leaders who have had a significant impact on the world,” said Darrell King, associate director for multicultural business programs. “This program helps to promote diversity and multiculturalism … Over the course of the 19 years of our program, this case competition has had 500 students participate in this event.”

The Office for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives also gave out individual awards to staff and faculty for things like emerging progress, sustained efforts toward excellence in diversity, and lifetime achievement.

One of the awardees of lifetime achievement was Wanda Lipscomb, senior associate dean for diversity and inclusion and associate dean for student affairs.

“I grew up in the south where racism is right in front of your face every day,” Lipscomb said. “I didn’t realize that those very hurtful moments of sitting in the back of the bus and going to the colored only fountain … I never dreamed that that would ever be something that would carry me forward in a way that could be positive. And I came to Michigan State and I was like a stranger and now this is home … And we have a heck of a lot of work to get done.”

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