Gala celebrates diversity, equity and inclusion at CMU

The Central Michigan University Office for Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion hosted the inaugural Diversity Gala Friday, April 29 at the CMU Chippewa Champions Center. The new special event highlighted efforts to make CMU — and the Mount Pleasant community — more welcoming and inclusive for all individuals.

The gala also offered an opportunity to recognize the outstanding contributions of student, faculty and staff leaders, as well as amplify emerging community partnerships

CMU Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer Shawna Patterson-Stephens said the gala is significant for the university.

“The gala operates as a vehicle for communication and transparency, while also offering space for celebration and recognition,” said Patterson-Stephens.

During the gala, student and staff event hosts presented the following awards. A brief sample of the recipient’s nomination also is included: 

Innovation in Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Award, presented to CMU student Kevin Bautista-Mancilla.

This award acknowledges the contributions of campus constituents who have been creative in designing and implementing curricular, co-curricular, and/or program opportunities geared towards contributing to CMU’s overarching DEIJ priorities. 

During his time at CMU, Bautista-Mancilla has instilled a new culture for his chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon within Greek Life by helping his peers understand the importance of social justice and social change. In addition, Bautista-Mancilla helped to found DREAM Central, an organization for undocumented students aimed to help them feel more connected to the CMU community. He also stepped into the role of DEI Director of Student Government Association this year and collaborated with fellow DEI Director, Ayebah Wilson, to help positively change SGA.

Distinction in Mentorship Award, presented to both Azuare Singleton-Moton, CMU junior, and Jewel Larkins, assistant director of Multicultural Academic Student Services.

Acknowledging the tremendous contributions mentors make to the academy and to CMU, Nominees for the Distinction in Mentorship award have exhibited their ability to create a nurturing learning environment that centers diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice. 

Larkins works to create training and development opportunities through a DEI lens to increase students’ awareness and sensitivity to the diversity that exists in CMU’s community. She is careful to meet students where they are, while identifying the chance to develop their cultural competency. Singleton-Moton also creates welcoming learning environments that center around DEI, and her mentees consistently have something positive to say about her.

Dr. Diane E. Newby for Inclusive Excellence in Education Award, presented to Amy Ford, professor, English Language and Literature.

Nominees for the Award for Inclusive Excellence in Education have demonstrated diligence and consistency in working towards the systematic development and inculcation of inclusive, equitable and just praxis, pedagogy and/or policy in educational environments. 

Amy Ford works to prepare a generation of English teachers who are aware of their own identities, who view the identities of their students in terms of assets rather than deficits, and who know how to capitalize on students’ diverse identities in their teaching. Moreover, she has been integral in the development of new standards for English teacher education through the Michigan Department of Education. She also is currently part of a large research grant aimed at nurturing teachers from Indigenous communities as an effort to diversify the teaching force and better support Indigenous students in K-12 schools.

Outstanding Social Justice Leadership in Community Service Award – Individual and Organization: Laura Gonzalez, CMU alumna (Individual) and the CMU Honors Program Gender and Sexuality Alliance (Organization).

Nominees for the Outstanding Social Justice Leadership in Community Service award are individuals or entities whose ethos embraces and expounds upon a civic duty that aims to attend to societal needs alongside communities and ecologies. 

As a CMU alumna, Gonzalez continues to exemplify commitment to civic duty every day in her work and beyond. As an organization, the Honors Program Gender and Sexuality Alliance group has brought in speakers and panels to educate CMU students on queer and trans issues, in addition to creating a safe space for LGBTQ+ students.

Exemplary Research and Scholarship Award, presented to Jack Day, assistant professor, Human Development and Family Studies.

Nominees for the Exemplary Research and Scholarship award have demonstrated their capacity for grounding their words in diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice in a manner that supersedes normative explorations of research questions.

Day has shown a passion for diversity, equity and inclusion through his research, which focused on the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in schools in relation to punitive systems as well as the treatment of racial minorities with punitive systems. His plans for future research involve the effects of Gender and Sexuality Alliances/Gay-Straight Alliances in high schools and potentially middle schools.

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