University Diversity & Inclusion Awards

The University Diversity and Inclusion Awards recognize individuals and departments that foster greater awareness, understanding and advancement of diversity and inclusiveness at TU.

Please fill out this form to nominate someone or a department for their work in advancing the Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion at TU.

University Diversity and Inclusion Awards Nomination Form

Selection Committee

  • TBA


Staff, faculty and department awards will occur during the Annual Staff Awards Ceremony. Student awards will occur at the Student Affairs Awards Ceremony. Award recipient names are added to a plaque in the Administration Building.

Individual Awards: $500 each

  • Current Student: Graduate (masters/doctoral) 
  • Current Faculty Member (research or service) 
  • Current Staff Member 

Department Awards: $1,000 each

  • Academic Department 
  • Administrative Department 

Criteria and Considerations 

Nominees (individual and department) must have demonstrated a significant contribution toward creating a diverse and inclusive TU community through the implementation of policies, procedures, initiatives and or programs in one or more of the following areas: 

  • Embedding diversity and inclusiveness into a structural/institutional aspect of the TU (policy, procedure, tradition, vision statement, curricula/instruction, research, etc.).
  • Recruitment and retention of an excellent and diverse faculty, staff or student body.
  • Fostering equality of opportunity within the campus community.
  • Encouraging diverse perspectives on the campus.
  • Creating a welcoming and supportive campus climate through efforts such as visibility, communication and education.
  • Other areas critical to establishing inclusive excellence at the TU.


How has the nominee(s) demonstrated superior leadership and commitment to the enhancement, development and sustainability of diversity and inclusive excellence?


How does the activity uniquely address key issues of diversity and inclusiveness throughout TU and or the TU community? How is this activity different from existing activities and projects that address diversity and inclusiveness?


What have been the measurable outcomes? Has this project/program/activity been replicated at other institutions? How has this project/program/activity “moved the needle” in addressing issues of diversity and inclusiveness throughout the university and the TU community?

Nomination Considerations

Areas of achievement to consider when nominating individuals and or departments:

  • Activities to recruit, retain and professionally develop individuals who increase the diversity of our faculty or staff.
  • Activities to attract or recruit students who increase the diversity of our schools, or to help ensure the success of those students.
  • Activities to create leadership teams and organizations that promote a diverse and inclusive culture.
  • Sponsorship or active promotion of programs, initiatives or projects in the area of diversity and inclusion. 
  • Collaboration with campus or community groups in the creation, sponsorship, and implementation of programs, initiatives or projects in the area of diversity and inclusion.
  • Recognition and celebration of exemplary individual and team behaviors that promote diversity and inclusion.
  • Demonstration of emerging or sustained commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism by documented efforts that exceed the routine expectations of the job or project.
  • Evidence of exceptional efforts to promote a university environment that is free from bias and discrimination.
  • Substantiation of the contribution that the individual or department has made towards advancing diversity and inclusion.

Past Winners

View photos of the award winners.

Past Winners

Faculty Winner

Laura Gough, Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, Jess and Mildred fisher College of Science and Mathematics

Faculty Honorable Mention:

  • Erin Girio-Herrera, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, College of Liberal Arts

  • Ming Li, Ph.D., Department of Health Sciences, College of Health Professions

  • Alison McCartney, Ph.D., Depart of Political Science, College of Liberal Arts

Posthumous Faculty Winner

Halcyon Lawrence, Ph.D., Department of English, College of Liberal Arts

Graduate Student Winner

Chris Truong, Psy.D., MS, MHS, University Counseling Center

Staff Winner

Ashley Fullwood, Academic Advising, Retention and Completion Office, Division of Enrollment Management

Staff Honorable Mention:

  • Gail DeShields, New Student and Family Programs, Student Affairs

  • Lucienne Karszen, Tutoring and Learning Center, Academic Affairs

  • Keiwana Perryman, Center for Student Diversity, Office of Inclusion & Institutional Equity

  • Kristin Pinkowski, Hill Lopes Scholars, Jess & Mildred Fisher College of Science & Mathematics

  • Courtney Plummer, University Admissions, Enrollment Services

Academic Department Winner

Albert S. Cook Library, Special Collections and University Archives and the IDEA Committee, Albert S. Cook Library - Suzzanna Yaukey, Dean, University Libraries; Ashley Todd-Dias, Assistant University Librarian for Speical Collections and University Archives.

Administrative Department Winner

Division of University Marketing and Communications - Sean Welch, Vice President, Communications and Media;  Pam Gorsuch, Assistant Director, University Communications

Administrative Department Honorable Mention: Housing and REsidence LIfe, Kelly Hoover, Assistant Vice President

Faculty Winner

Robert Tappan, PhD, Associate Professor, Philosophy and Religious Studies

Dr. Tappan ensures his students receive a quality education. He makes all course materials accessible to students with visual and physical impairments and works with others on and off campus to provide students with course materials. Dr. Tappan always welcomed students in his classes regardless of the accessibility challenges. For an assigned class video, Dr. Tappan took initiative, and in collaboration with other students, revised the transcript so that students who were visually impaired could fully experience the film.

Dr. Tappan also advocated to help make a graphic novel accessible, working with Accessibility and Disability Services to affect the change and ensuring accessibility to audio description for multiple films. He proactively reaches out to authors and publishers in an attempt to obtain accessible Word files for assigned readings. 

As one student said, “No student should be told they cannot take a course and Dr. Tappan will always work with students ensuring a quality education is gained within his courses”. Dr. Tappan efforts for making all of his courses diverse and inclusive through engaging discussions, self-initiation, and increasing accessibility is a gold standard.  

Faculty Honorable Mention: Tavia La Follette, Ph.D., Department of Theatre Arts

Staff Winner

Dena Barnwell, Auxiliary Services

Dena has been active in both the Black Faculty and Staff Association (BFSA) and the Women Faculty and Staff Association (WFSA) as a member and Executive Board representative. She has simultaneously acted as event planner, programs coordinator, secretary and membership outreach representative. Dena has organized and led many health workshops for the BFSA which included presenting on work-life balance and tangible ways to eat healthy and stay physically active.  

Dena has also lead meetings for BFSA focused on the benefits of sleep and mental health. Her work not only extends to BFSA members, but to the university at large. In summer of 2018, she led and organized a professional development series for all employees of TU. Topics included Career Development Essentials, Black at a PWI, and Pursuing Education while Working: Maximizing the Tuition Remission Benefit. She works intensely to find speakers and event locations for all events. Dena’s insight, creativity, and passion for inclusion, social justice, and healthy lifestyle is notable. Dena continues to push the BFSA group forward, creating new ways to build bridges with faculty, staff, and students.  

Staff Honorable Mention:

  • Alison Armstrong, Development Office, Donor Relations

  • Jeff Keenan, Campus Recreation

  • Robyn McCray, Accessibility and Disability Services (ADS) 

  • Dr. G. Wei Ng, Counseling Center

  • Elena Versenyi, Theatre Arts

Academic Department Winner

Electronic Media and Film, Michael Angelella, Department Chair

The Department of Electronic Media and Film (EMF) believes in and exemplifies working collectively across the department to advance diversity and inclusiveness of underrepresented populations and bring tangible results. Here are a few highlights of the department’s programs and initiatives: 

  • Permanent TU Core 13 Diversity and Difference class in African-American Cinema (EMF 210). 

  • Proposal for a new university Core 13 Diversity and Difference course, Social Advocacy in EMF.

  • EditMedia’s (Equity for Diversity and Inclusion in Teaching Media) resources for inclusive classroom best practices to all full-time faculty.

  • Recruitment of diverse women of color as adjunct faculty. 

  • College of Fine Arts and Communication’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee membership expansion.

  • Woman Filmmaker’s Initiative - focuses on female - identifying students to promote belonging and identify steps action steps toward better practices in a major tied to an industry with historical gender barriers. 

EMF also welcomed visiting artist, Clarence Gilyard, NAACP Image Award winner and co-star of television's "Walker, Texas Ranger" as a teacher in co-sponsorship with the Department of Theatre. The department also has had consecutive faculty awarded TU Diversity and Inclusion Fellowships, served as advisors to The Lunch Table (female students of color), and produces the Silver Screen Radio on WTMD radio, co-hosted by Dr. Kalima Young.  

Academic Department Honorable Mention: Department of Communication Studies

Administrative Department Winner

New Student and Family Programs, Katie Murray, Director

New Student and Family Programs takes a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion very seriously and weaves that work throughout everything they do. The department overhauled their Orientation Leader recruitment, interviewing, and selection in order to best represent TU’s diverse student body and ensure every student and their family feels welcomed by the orientation team. Professional staff and student leaders underwent training to ensure the interview and selection process was equitable, resulting in a more diverse Orientation Leader team for 2020.

The Orientation Leader team is now among the most racially diverse student leadership teams that the office has recruited and hired. The office also experienced a 100% increase in Latinx and APIDA identified students, as well as a 37.5% of transfer students on the team. These demographic shifts have a significant impact on the university with 9,000 students and their families seeing themselves represented within the Orientation Leader team. 

Beyond representation, a new hiring process specifically trained upper-division student leaders on equitable hiring practices and inclusivity during the interview process. A new training program was implemented for student leaders to observe group interviews on implicit bias and how to be an equitable observer. Rubrics were re-written to include “likability” as an observable quality to mitigate the over-reliance on “fit” as a hiring factor which perpetuates homogeneous teams and decreases diversity. The commitment to equitable hiring of student leaders is at the forefront of comparable programs at the institution.  

Administrative Department Honorable Mention:

  • Campus Recreation Services

  • Alumni Relations

  • Fraternity and Sorority Life

  • Towson University Police Department (TUPD)

Academic Department Winner: Study Abroad and Away Office, Representative Liz Shearer

Administrative Department Winner: Housing and Residence Life, Representative(s) Malinda Jensen and Christina Olstad

Staff Winner: Tasha Benn, Career Center

Faculty Winner: Elana Ehrlich, PhD and Michelle Snyder, PhD, Department of Biological Sciences

Graduate Student Winner: April Jones

Faculty: Brenda Conley PhD, Instructional Leadership and Professional Development

Academic Department: University Archives and Special Collections, Albert S. Cook Library

Faculty Research: Beth Haller, Mass Communication and Communication Studies

Staff: Sharlene Roberson, Fisher College of Science and Mathematics

Administrative Department: Towson University Police Department

Student: Natalie Shaheen (graduate) and Brian Johnson (undergraduate)

Faculty: Judith Guerrero, Early Childhood Education

Academic Department: Foreign Languages

Faculty Research: Kathryn Kautzman, Chemistry

Staff: Joyce Garcynzski, Albert S. Cook Library

Administrative Department: International Initiatives

Student: Xiomara Gonzalez, Student Government Association

Faculty: Mubina Kirmani PhD, Nursing

Academic Department: Family Science

Faculty Research: Paz Galupo, Psychology

Staff: Santiago Solis, Center for Student Diversity

Administrative Department: Academic Achievement, Athletics

Student: Shane Henise, Career Center

Faculty: Marianne Dunn, Psychology

Academic Department: TU Center for STEM Excellence, Academic Affairs

Faculty Research: Seana Coulter, Career Center

Staff: Joanna Basuray, Nursing

Administrative Department: Total tiger Program, Athletics

Student: Cecile Gadson, Center for Student Diversity

Faculty: Elsa Lankford, Electronic Media and Film

Academic Department: Special Education, Academic Affairs

Faculty Research: Mary Beth Merryman, Occupational Therapy and Occupational Science

Staff: Gail Gasparich, Biological Sciences

Administrative Department: University Admissions, Academic Affairs

Student: Samantha Hubbard, Student Government Association

Faculty: Elizabeth Clifford, Sociology, Anthropology and Criminal Justice

Academic Department: Albert S. Cook Library, Academic Affairs

Faculty Research: Gilda Alba-Martinez PhD, Learning Technologies, Design and School Library Media

Staff: Annie C. McMahon, Towson Opportunities in STEM

Administrative Department: Office of Human Resources, Administration and Finance

Student: Sean Phelan, University Residence Government

Faculty: Katherine Broadwater, Art

Academic Department: Dance, College of Fine Arts and Communication

Faculty Research: Theresa A. Adkins, Secondary Education

Staff: G. Lonnie McNew, Enrollment Management

Administrative Department: Photographic Services, University Advancement

Student: Courtney L. Cox, Student Government Association

Contact Information

University Diversity & Inclusion Awards

Administration Building
Room 214
Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.