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Seven receive 2017 Presidential Diversity Awards

Honorees recognized for service at fifth annual ceremony

KENNESAW, Ga. (Apr 21, 2017) — Six members of Kennesaw State’s faculty and staff and an alumnus were awarded 2017 Presidential Diversity Awards recognizing their service and contributions toward creating a more inclusive and welcoming campus environment.

The fifth annual awards, which correspond to six presidential commissions operating at Kennesaw State, were presented by the University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion during a ceremony yesterday.

Opening the ceremony, Kennesaw State President Sam Olens affirmed the University’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, adding that it is important to “constantly learn from other people.” He also praised the recipients, describing them as individuals who have performed “extraordinary deeds with extraordinary results.”

Erik Malewski, the University’s chief diversity officer, emphasized the level of service and commitment recipients perform as “cultural advocates.”

“They are inspired and compelled to work for a better world,” Malewski said. “They serve as a reminder of the kindness and everyday goodness we all should strive to achieve.”

Diversity Awards

Pictured from left, Julie Newell; Glenda Espana; Christine Rubel; Sarah Holliday; Ibrahim ElSawy; Debarati Sen; and Cassandra Race

Following are this year’s Presidential Diversity Award recipients (Click to learn more about their service and contributions):

  • Outstanding Contribution Award

Cassandra Race, part-time assistant director of technical communications

(Presidential Commission on Gender and Work Life Issues)                                                                            

  • Teresa M. Joyce Award

Sarah Holliday, interim faculty director of general education and associate professor of mathematics

(Presidential Commission on GLBTIQ Initiatives)

  • R.C. Paul Excellence in Sustainability Award

Julie Newell, special assistant to the provost and professor of interdisciplinary studies, and

Christine Rubel, KSU Alum (2016)

(Presidential Commission on Sustainability)

  • Mattox Award for Excellence in Service and Leadership

Glenda España, academic advisor, Office of the Registrar

(Presidential Commission of Veterans Affairs)

  • R.O.H. Social Justice Award

Debarati Sen, assistant professor of conflict management an anthropology

(Presidential Commission on Racial and Ethnic Dialogue)

  • Carol J. Pope Award

Ibrahim ElSawy, executive director, Academy of Inclusive Learning and Social Growth and clinical associate professor of exercise science and sport management

(Presidential Commission on Disability Strategies and Resources)

The awards ceremony concluded with remarks from guest speaker Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the Anna Julia Cooper Professor of Women’s Studies and founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center at Spelman College. She urged Kennesaw State to persist in its goals to achieve a diverse and welcoming climate.

Across the spectrum, Guy-Sheftall said, “Diversity agendas are under attack … We cannot return to the past.”   

--Sabbaye McGriff

Photos by David Caselli

Video production by Nathalia Jaramillo, Jennifer Leifheit-Little, Ricky Bohan and the KSU video production team


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.

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