URI students, faculty, staff honored for efforts to foster diversity and inclusivity

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Members of Brothers On a New Direction accepting their award
Members of Brothers On a New Direction accepting their award for student organization. From left: Almamy Kamara, President David M. Dooley, Dennis Cardoso, Corvah Akoiwala and Nolan Nathaniel. Photo by Mike Salerno.

KINGSTON, RI — May 13, 2019 — Recently, the 2019 Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Awards honored URI students, faculty, administration, staff and organizations who have demonstrated commitment to community leadership, academic excellence and service in promoting diversity and multiculturalism on URI’s campus. These awards are meant to acknowledge their excellence and contribution towards building and sustaining an equitable and multicultural community at URI.

The University of Rhode Island presented seven community members and two University organizations with Diversity and Inclusive Excellence Awards during their annual ceremony. A committee of eight individuals, led by George Gallien, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, selects University organizations and individuals who strive to promote and grow diversity on URI’s campus.

The award winners are:

Health Services team
From left, Dr. Christopher Nasin, Medical Director, of North Kingstown; Lindsey Amore, Coordinator, Health Services Administration, of North Kingstown; and Jennifer Hodshon, Associate Director, Health Services, of Charlestown, all members of the Health Services team, accepting the award for college department or unit from President David M. Dooley. Photo by Mike Salerno.

Lifetime Achievement Award:
For nearly 40 years, Sharon and Frank Forleo of Charlestown, have advanced diversity, equity and inclusion at URI. Although they are most widely known for their contributions to the Talent Development (TD) Program, Sharon and Frank have impacted the entire campus community. Through the mentorship and training of Talent Development students, Sharon and Frank cultivated a legacy that contributes significantly to the vibrancy of URI. This legacy positions diversity as a campus priority and necessity for maintaining inclusive excellence.

Undergraduate Student Academic Excellence
In addition to maintaining a 4.0 GPA, Justin Gold of Livingston, New Jersey, has participated in the Composting Club, where he has developed fertile compost using biodegradable materials from URI Mainfare Dining Hall, and leaves collected from campus grounds. Justin also serves as a Health Ambassador at URI, where he mentors students from Classical High School, Chariho High School, and South Kingstown High School. Since joining the URI community, Justin has fostered inclusivity on URI’s campus, allowing all students to feel welcomed.

Undergraduate Community Excellence
Since joining the URI community, Gyasi Alexander of Hagerstown, Maryland, has remained committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. Gyasi co-assisted in the production of the Can We Talk documentary, a film centered on sharing stories of belongingness among diverse students and faculty members in STEM careers. Gyasi has also worked extensively with the Seeds of Success student organization.

Student Organization
Members of B.O.N.D., (Brothers on a New Direction) Almamy Kamara of Providence, Dennis Cardoso of Providence, Corvah Akoiwala of Providence and Nolan Nathaniel of Brooklyn, New York. The group focuses on guiding men of color towards personal growth, academic success, and strong leadership. Since its inception, BOND has created strong ties to the URI community. Through its canned food drive, BOND works to combat food insecurity. The organization also hosts a textbook drive to offset the cost of a college education. The members of BOND exemplify the importance of brotherhood, scholarship and leadership. In the true URI spirit, BOND exhibits the importance of service and its impact on facilitating change.

Graduate Student Excellence
As a researcher, Katherine Canfield of San Luis Obispo, California, centers research around people of color, including their voice and unique experiences. As contributing member of #InclusiveSciComm, Katherine evidenced the importance of social justice and inclusion. In addition to numerous on-campus endeavors, Katherine leads an environmental justice camp at Brown University. In this capacity, she works with high school students to advance the importance of social justice and community activism. Through teaching, community service, and scholarship, Katherine reinforces the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Staff/Administrative Excellence
Erin Earle, Ed.D., of Newport, serves as the Associate Director of Campus Visit Experience, the Robert J. Higgins Welcome Center and Office of Admissions working to create an inclusive and supportive campus community. As the co-chair of the President’s LGBTQ commission, she advocated for gender neutral bathrooms. According to her nominator, “Dr. Earle recognizes that advancing diversity and inclusion involves working at multiple levels, from policies to practices.” Through ongoing advocacy and policy, Dr. Earle has made it her mission to recognize and honor diversity. Since joining the URI community, she has remained consistent in supporting individuals across all boundaries of culture, identity, and expression.

Faculty Excellence
Bryan Dewsbury, Ph.D., of Providence, Assistant Professor, Department of Biological Sciences. Since joining the university, Dr. Dewsbury has focused on identity constructs, bias, relationships and its effects on student learning outcomes. His innovative approach to education has spurred learning and decreased withdrawal rates in introductory science courses. Dr. Dewsbury makes it his mission to inspire students across all social, cultural and ethnic lines. He believes that an inclusive approach to teaching means taking a student’s social context into consideration, as it impacts the student’s opportunities, preparedness, and resources, as well as their connection to the discipline, and overall confidence in their ability to learn.

College Department/Unit
The Health Services Department has served as a vehicle for advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion on URI’s campus. They have made it their mission to create a safe and inclusive space for students of all backgrounds to obtain medical care. Through SafeZone training and international student training, the staff remains committed to supporting all members of the URI community.

This story was written by Lauren Poirier, a sophomore English and public relations major and intern at the University’s Department of Marketing and Communications.