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MSU to recognize excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion

February 6, 2023
Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023.
Michigan State’s Office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion on Monday, Feb. 6, 2023. —
Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

The Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion awards ceremony will be held on Feb. 13 from 4 to 6 p.m. in the Big Ten Room at the Kellogg Hotel. MSU will be recognizing those who demonstrated above and beyond contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in the fields of research, teaching, programming, community work and organizational change.

Audrey Bentley, senior outreach coordinator in the Office for Institutional Diversity and Inclusion, said the award program has been going on since 1990 and it was one of the first DEI programs in higher education across the nation.

Over 200 organizations, teams and individuals have been recognized for the work they’ve put into not only the university, but also through community outreach incentives.

Although the event is open invitation, this year’s capacity has been reached, with over 500 people registered to attend.

“We'll be issuing 10 awards to individuals, teams, and units and two of those awards will be issued in the category of lifetime achievement by some wonderful individuals who have been doing great work for many, many years at MSU,” Bentley said.

Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell will be honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award at the upcoming ceremony, which recognizes long-term, exemplary efforts made during their time at MSU.

MacDowell and her husband of fifty years have always worked as a team. From the moment they were hired in the late 70s to today, they’ve been using the DEI lens long before the term was coined. She said they were based at the MSU Museum and sought out ways to engage historically underserved populations.

“There were so many individuals who stuck their necks out for us in support of the kind of pathbreaking work that we were doing,” MacDowell said. “We’re grateful to the community members who trusted us, who worked alongside of us, and those administrators who were influential in helping to support the kind of work that we were doing and helped us.”

Among others, MSU Extension’s Children and Youth Institute LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Team will also be honored for spreading their message of friendly, positive energy towards Michigan LGBTQIA+ youth since 2020.

“This is just a great group of recipients this year that I think truly reflect what we have been trying to achieve all these years,” Bentley said. “I just hope that this program continues on forever because some great work is being done at the university.”

There were no self-nominations this year. Everyone that was in the running was nominated by someone else. Candidates were evaluated based on paper submissions and interviews were conducted with individuals that made the first cut.

“It’s quite a detailed, objective process that’s used and really, we're very, very proud of this year's nominees from that was submitted and for the ones that have won,” Bentley said. “We think we have a really good representation of what DEI is supposed to look like at MSU and how MSU does such a great job.”

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