Universe Wheel

Faculty, Staff, and Students Honored at Equity and Campus Diversity Awards Ceremony

Quickly becoming a Buffalo State “tradition,” the Equity and Campus Diversity Awards celebrate the faculty, staff, and students who promote respect for diversity and individual differences. Five faculty and staff members and three students will be honored today by the President’s Council on Equity and Campus Diversity during the seventh annual awards ceremony.

“These award winners are doing what the college values,” said Dolores Battle, senior adviser to the president for equity and campus diversity. “This year’s recipients clearly reached people.”

Nominated by students, the five recipients of the Faculty and Staff Awards for the Promotion of Respect for Diversity and Individual Differences are:

  • Nancy Chicola, associate professor, Elementary Education and Reading
  • Brian Dubenion, residence hall director, Residence Life
  • Catherine George, academic tutor, Academic Support Programs
  • Theresa Harris-Tigg, assistant professor, English
  • Michael Niman, associate professor, Communication

The recipients all expressed humility in receiving the honor. Niman, for example, was more eager to discuss the changes he sees in his students than his personal efforts.

“The student who nominated me recently told me he thought the world was changing, but I pointed out that it was not the world so much as he who was changing,” Niman said. As for the importance of equity and campus diversity, he advises, “Rather than shy away from issues of diversity, embrace them, and the sometimes uncomfortable discussions that address topics such as social inequality.”

Chicola related the importance of promoting equity and campus diversity to nature, saying, “It’s like a pebble that when thrown into a pond spreads influential rings to the family, school, community, and beyond.” She said we have an opportunity and responsibility to “influence the hearts and minds of students whom we instruct.”

“Helping students to become culturally responsive and to embrace diversity will serve to enhance learning and improve motivation as well as contribute to life skills that will be utilized well beyond their tenure at Buffalo State College,” Chicola said.

George, who helps a number of international students among those she tutors, was an international student before joining the Buffalo State staff. Understanding that the students she serves have diverse needs, she takes extra care to help all understand the resources available to them while also instilling the belief that they, too, can be resourceful. During intersemester sessions, through a program she calls S.A.V.E. (social, academic, and vocational endeavors), she offers international students free room and board on Bird Street in exchange for interacting with area residents through social activities, academic tutoring, and housing projects.

“I want to perpetuate the good I was given when I was a student,” she said. “Getting this award is significant for me. It will serve as a reminder that it’s good to practice diversity and hopefully will empower others to do more.”

In addition to the faculty and staff awards, three students will receive the Phillip Santa Maria Award for Student Leadership in Equity and Campus Diversity, and 14 faculty, staff, and students will be recognized as recipients of 2007–2008 Equity and Campus Diversity Minigrants. The Theater Department also will receive special recognition for its outstanding efforts in promoting respect for diversity and individual differences in its student body, faculty recruitment, and academic programming. Battle said the department made tremendous strides to become more diverse and infuse diversity into the curriculum.

“With the performance of The Diary of Anne Frank in fall 2006, the department paralleled the Holocaust to the modern-day Rwandan genocide,” she said. “Last fall, it brought issues of the abilities of people with disabilities to the forefront through its production of Antigone, which included a deaf actor. And the recent production of Hair not only included a diverse cast but also tackled issues of the civil rights era in which the original play was set. Everything they’re doing is very educational for the student body.”

George said promoting equity and campus diversity goes far beyond award recognition. She believes everyone has a responsibility to do all he or she can and encourages all to “be continuous, lifelong learners.”

“The more faculty and staff can do, the more they can make life interesting and rewarding for students on campus,” George said. “It’s about enriching the lives of those we serve.”