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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

SU Honors Seven with Diversity Awards

Diversity Awards

SALISBURY, MD---Salisbury University recently honored seven members of the campus community with its 2015 President’s Diversity Awards.

They included undergraduate student Mario Orellana, graduate student Briana DeNeal-Findley, professional staff member Matthew Conley, administrator Carey Haddock, and faculty Dr. Manav Ratti, Paula Morris and Dr. Michele Schlehofer.

Orellana, a junior international studies and Spanish major from Washington, D.C., was spotlighted for “his genuine belief in diversity and its impact on the campus.” As the Student Government Association’s vice president of diversity for the past two years, he continued the Multicultural Showcase and Stop Hatin’ Campaign, and created a Diversity Week. Multicultural Student Services Director Vaughn White said: “He has done an excellent job of maintaining traditional programs, but also implementing new ideas that resonate with students.”

Orellana also has served on the SU Multicultural and Multiracial Organization executive board, helping plan advocacy events on campus, and participated in the Cultural Laureate Program. He “puts more than 100 percent of his effort toward educating the public about minority issues and advocating on the behalf of all minority groups,” said Tyler Gibson, a fellow student.

DeNeal-Findley, a native of Prince George’s County, earned her B.A.S.W. from SU in 2014 and graduates with her M.S.W. this spring. “She embodies all that it means to promote the appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity at SU,” said Julieze Benjamin, SU’s Student NAACP chapter president. 

DeNeal-Findley is the founder of WINK, a student organization dedicated to female empowerment and programs that promote the success of women of all races on campus and in the community. She has served on SU’s Women’s History Month committee, and worked with Multicultural Student Services as a Powerful Connections mentee and mentor, and as a student organizer for its annual leadership summit and senior banquet. As a graduate assistant in the Student Activities Office, she has continued her efforts to provide “a great student life experience for all,” Benjamin said.

Haddock, assistant director of housing and residence life, was nominated for her “tireless efforts to help make [SU] an inclusive home for every Sea Gull.” Student Casey Coleman said she “models what it means to be an agent of change” and has a “passion for diversity and inclusion that overflows to the staff she supervises.” Student Amanda Gilmore said she also offers support to students on an individual level. 

Haddock has provided multiple professional development opportunities for staff including Title IX and diversity training, a Holocaust Museum visit and a Safe Spaces workshop. She developed a programming model for resident assistants that focuses on inclusiveness and personal growth; at least 140 programs annually are dedicated to educating SU’s residential population on diversity. She also created four Campus Connections teams to carry out campuswide programs focused on diversity and inclusion.

Conley, a sous chef in University Dining Services, was spotlighted for going above and beyond his normal duties to support diverse Cultural Affairs programming with his “tireless, creative and delicious work.” Cultural Affairs Director June Krell-Salgado said he has contributed to a number of special events enjoyed by both the campus and greater communities. These include the International Meal Series, the Vegan Candlelight Dinners and the University’s award-winning Madrigal Feast. SU is “fortunate to have such a wonderful chef” and “generous contributor” who supports its numerous cultural events, Krell-Salgado said. 

Ratti, English Department faculty, was honored for “enthusiastically [working] on behalf of diversity programs and initiatives.” His research interests are “inherently committed to diversity and minority rights,” including postcolonial studies, human rights, critical race studies and literary studies, said Dr. Clara Small, professor emeritus, adding that he regularly teaches courses that fulfill the English major’s diversity requirement. Ratti supports numerous groups dedicated to diversity, including the African American History Month and Minor in Ethnic and Global Literatures committees. He also has supported the SGA’s Stop Hatin’ Week.

“In his nearly four years at SU, Dr. Ratti has served as an outstanding ambassador for diversity for publishing first-class and cutting-edge scholarship, creating successful new courses, hosting leading speakers from his extensive network, serving on numerous committees, and founding and advising the Social Justice Society,” Small said. 

Morris and Schlehofer were nominated for their commitment to diversity and specifically to Safe Spaces initiatives for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex and Asexual (LGBTQIA) individuals. Dr. Diane Illig, Sociology Department chair, called them “crucial members” of the Safe Spaces team who have “contributed essential materials to resource booklets, developed workshop exercises relevant to specific target audiences and served as workshop facilitators.”

Schlehofer’s expertise in psychology “infuses [the team’s] work with a sense of urgency as she brings to light the consequences of continued hostility and intolerance to the lived experiences of LGBTQIA people,” Illig said, adding that Schlehofer also serves on the Lower Shore LGBTQ Coalition. Morris’ experiences and knowledge of marketing have “enhanced written materials and made the workshop especially salient to external audiences,” Illig said. Morris draws on her business skills to create scenarios that are poignant and challenging to audiences, she added.

SU President Janet Dudley-Eshbach presented the awards during SU’s 20th Multicultural Festival Week.

For more information call 410-543-6030 or visit the SU website at www.salisbury.edu.


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