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SU President's Diversity and Inclusion Champion Awards presentation
Pictured, from left: Eli Modlin, SU chief of staff and vice president for public affairs and strategic initiatives; Vanice Antrum, multicultural affairs director; Dr. Beth Towle; SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre; Sandra Jean-Baptiste; Dr. Kim Quillin; Dr. Jessica Clark; Amy Jones; Celestina Agabi; Grace DePanise; Hunter Whitt; and Elizabeth Wash. Not pictured: Nina Soto Ramirez.

Ten Honored with 2023 SU President's Diversity and Inclusion Champion Awards

SALISBURY, MD---From student and faculty advocates, to the coordinators of a clothing program for transgender and non-binary students, to the director of a program assisting migrant farmworkers and their children in pursuing degrees, Salisbury University honored 10 members of the campus community with its 2023 President’s Diversity and Inclusion Champion Awards.

SU President Carolyn Ringer Lepre and Vanice Antrum, director of multicultural affairs, presented the awards as part of Inauguration Week events leading to the installation of Lepre as the University’s 10th President.

“No place of higher education can truly achieve excellence without embracing diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Lepre. “There is nothing that is more powerful or meaningful than bringing people together from different backgrounds so that they can learn and share with one another.”

Honorees included:

  • Administrator: Dr. Jessica Clark, assistant provost for faculty success
  • Faculty: Amy Jones, SU Libraries head of circulation; Dr. Beth Towle, University Writing Center associate director; and Dr. Kim Quillin, visiting assistant professor of biological sciences
  • Staff: Nina Soto Ramirez, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP) director
  • Graduate Student: Hunter Whitt
  • Undergraduate Students: Celestina Agabi, Grace DePanise, Sandra Jean-Baptiste and Elizabeth Wash

Clark was nominated for helping SU place an increased focus on diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) training, mentoring and development opportunities for faculty.

“Her incredible work ethic, tenacity, collaboration skills and knowledge about DEI in higher education and university policy have driven these projects forward,” said Antrum, who read from each recipient’s nomination.

In celebration of Transgender Awareness Month, Agabi, DePanise and Jones worked to coordinate a gender-affirming closet with SU’s LGBTQ+ Alliance to provide free clothing for transgender and non-binary students.

As a member of SU Libraries’ DEI Committee, Jones also has coordinated exhibits, book displays and library guides related to LGBTQ+ awareness, and ensures she is a safe person with whom transgender students can engage.

“In the current climate, where the very existence of trans people is debated, her gestures of support show students that not only are trans individuals welcome; they are celebrated,” read Antrum.

About Agabi and DePanise, she added: “Given the current political climate throughout the nation related to trans rights and gender-affirming care, they have made significant efforts to raise awareness and make visible the trans community on campus.”

Towle was recognized for her work in developing the University Writing Center’s workshop programs, including tailored workshops for diverse students.

“It is vital for our practices to best serve the increasingly diverse student population,” read Antrum. “Her tireless dedication in supporting these students is evident not only in the quantity of workshops that she has developed, but also the quality of them.”

As chair of the ad hoc DEI Committee for SU’s Richard A. Henson School of Science and Technology, Quillin oversaw the launch of the school’s inaugural belonging survey. Data was shared with faculty and staff to increase awareness of DEI opportunities in the school.

“She has made extraordinary and meaningful contributions to promote the appreciation and understanding of cultural diversity, equity and inclusion,” read Antrum.

Ramirez was honored for her efforts with CAMP, which provides a pathway for migrant, seasonal and temporary farmworkers interested in pursuing degrees, as well as her work with local schools and districts to recruit underrepresented students to SU.

“She is a bridge builder, a dream enhancer and an asset to all of those whom she serves,” read Antrum. “There are few true movers and shakers like her when it comes to advocating for diversity and inclusion.”

Whitt was nominated for his efforts to promote greater inclusivity on campus as an advocate for students with disabilities.

“Based on his own personal experience with accessibility on campus as a student with mobility challenges, he has found a powerful and humble voice to fight for everyday things like easy access to buildings or bathrooms, and for more structural things like student accommodations and faculty responsiveness to them,” read Antrum. “Anyone who has met him can feel the impact he has on the SU community.”

Jean-Baptiste serves as a liaison between clubs and organizations in SU’s Multicultural Alliance and the student body, notable for her recognition of and advocacy for campus DEI efforts. She also mentors students, helps navigate student concerns and assists in creating large-scale awareness events.

“No one has been more of a positive influence in this arena than Sandra,” read Antrum. “SU is lucky to have her as a student leader.”

Wash also was recognized for her work to promote disability awareness and inclusion, providing mentorship and guidance to newly registered students with disabilities and serving as an advocate for equitable outcomes and intersectionality.

“It is not easy to be the voice of social justice, equity and inclusion among those who are not as knowledgeable or invested,” read Antrum. “However, her passion, integrity and honesty consistently shine as she continues to use her voice even at the most difficult and contentious moments.”

The ceremony marked the 15th year the honors have been awarded.

Learn more about opportunities to Make Tomorrow Yours at the SU website.