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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

March 13 is Deadline for Spring John R. Broderick Diversity Champion Nominees; 12 Fall Honorees Recognized

Twelve members of the Old Dominion University community have been presented President John R. Broderick Diversity Champion Awards for the fall semester, in recognition of their commitment to advancing the University's values of diversity, inclusion and equity.

Nominations for the spring 2015 semester are being accepted by ODU's Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity until March 13. Among the spring and fall recipients, the University's Diversity Champion Award will be presented on April 16, at an end-of-the-year ceremony in the recipient's honor.

The award is designed to honor and celebrate individuals in the community in four categories - Administration and employees; Faculty; Students and alumni; and Hampton Roads residents.

Nominations can be submitted by anyone. Nominators should explain how the nominee demonstrates an exceptional understanding of diversity, inclusion and equity beyond the call of duty. Nominations can be submitted ONLINE to the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, or delivered in person to 1301 Spong Hall at Old Dominion University.

For the fall semester, the President John R. Broderick Diversity Champion Award recipients are:

  • Alok Verma, professor and chair of engineering technology in the Batten College of Engineering and Technology, for his promotion of diversity of STEM education;
  • Betsy Kennedy, senior lecturer of human movement sciences in the Darden College of Education, for helping bring the Character and Resiliency Education (CARE) Now program to Norfolk Public Schools, and her commitment to event such as the Special Olympics Little Feet Meet;
  • J.R. Locke, Hampton Roads community leader, for his work helping found the Hampton Roads Diversity and Inclusion Consortium and 900 Men Strong Scholarship Prayer Breakfast;
  • Student Gabrielle Cunningham, for her active leadership role for the Legislative and Diversity Affairs committee of ODU's Student Government Association;
  • Jennifer Kidd, senior lecturer of teaching and learning in the Darden College of Education, for her work encouraging students to discuss and celebrate their differences, and grant-writing to support the creation of diversity-related assignments to better prepare pre-service teachers;
  • International student Ziniya Zahedi, who promotes diversity in the international student body, working with the Bangladeshi Student Association, Student Government Association and ODU's Office of Intercultural Relations;
  • Local residents Lois and Barry Einhorn, who help promote diversity and inclusion throughout Hampton Roads, especially through their synagogue Temple Israel, in Norfolk;
  • ODU football coach Bobby Wilder, for his significant outreach in support of the football team and Old Dominion University, and his encouragement for the team to support charitable causes such as the National Bone Marrow Donor Program;
  • Anna Jeng, associate professor of community and environmental health in the College of Health Sciences, for actively promoting values associated with diversity, inclusion and equity in the southeast community of Newport News, including writing a research proposal to support involvement of residents in improving and protecting their environment by measuring air quality with portable monitors;
  • Avi Santo, associate professor of communication and theatre arts in the College of Arts & Letters, for hosting a series of public forums and invited speakers through The Institute for the Humanities that place emphasis on cross-cultural and cross generational dialogue;
  • April Brecht, director of athletic academic and life skills with ODU Athletics, for creating several programs and activities for ODU's student athletes and staff to promote diversity not only within our campus community but throughout the Hampton Roads community;
  • Lillian Brinkley, a Hampton Roads resident who for 25 years has provided mentorship and guidance to pre-service and in-service teachers at Old Dominion University; and
  • Benjamin Ipson, an Old Dominion University student who played a key role in organizing an ODU study abroad trip to see Auschwitz. Ipson is the grandson of a Holocaust survivor.

The Diversity Champion Award has been presented at ODU since the 1990s, and ODU President John R. Broderick was one of its earliest recipients.

The annual award was renamed for Broderick, starting with the 2014-15 school year. The renaming was decided upon by ODU's Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity after an overwhelming positive response from the campus community to Broderick's actions following a campus incident.

ReNeé Dunman, assistant vice president for equity and diversity, said Broderick wrote a letter to the campus community this fall in which he unequivocally denounced intolerant exchanges on a website.

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