Year round, TU’s faculty, staff and students aim to celebrate and educate individuals about diversity all over campus. Some members of the Towson community go above and beyond with this mission. Luckily, each year at the Multicultural Conference, students, faculty and staff, as well as academic and administrative departments, are recognized for their efforts at the President’s Diversity Awards. This year the ceremony was held on March 1 and the Office of Human Resources (OHR) was honored not only with a nomination, but with an award as well!
It wasn’t the first time OHR was considered for the award. In 2011 former Vice President and CFO, James Sheehan, nominated the department for their outstanding contributions to diversity on campus. OHR didn’t take home the award that time, but Dr. Fran Luther, Assistant Professor of Educational Technology and Literacy, felt they deserved another shot. The department received word of their second nomination on February 14, Valentine’s Day.
“It was interesting that I received the notification from President Loeschke on February 14,” said Phil Ross, Director of OHR. “When I shared it with one of my staff she commented, ‘What an appropriate Valentine’s gift! Devotion to diversity has to begin with a heart.’”
And when it comes to diversity the employees of OHR certainly are devoted, and the activities and events the department participates in at Towson are many and varied. They have collaborated with Financial Services several times over the past few years to host events that focus on other cultures’ food, customs, music or dress.
OHR employees are always focused on making themselves self-aware by attending workshops and events on campus which discuss topics ranging from autism to transgender students to African Americans in baseball. They’ve even facilitated discussion between members of the department after viewing “Crash,” a controversial movie about race and stereotypes, and worked with the International Student & Scholar Office to learn about issues international students face.
Employees of OHR do not limit themselves to participating in events on campus, as they are also involved in activities throughout the community. The department has had a partnership with Calvin Rodwell Elementary School in Cherry Hill since 2009. Employees take time to visit and read to the students, help with math and reading groups, volunteer when needed and collect school supplies for donation. Veterans are another group OHR has been involved with, spending time at the Veteran’s Day ceremony in Parkville, working at the Honoring Our Veterans Career Fair and participating in the Wounded Warrior Transition Unit project.
Though the department is proud of the honor they’ve received it’s clear that that they’re not participating in diversity initiatives just to win awards and recognition.
When asked to comment on their recent honor, Phil Ross stated, “As I reflect on everything the division has done and plans to do towards advancing diversity, I am reminded the effort requires open minds and open hearts. So, I encourage us all to continue to think about inclusion and acceptance of others who may be different from us. That way we will all be winners.”
Kudos to the Events and Conference Services (ECS) Staff and Mary Fortier in Financial Services for also being nominated in the 2011 President’s Diversity Awards. For OHR, second time was a charm, and we’re confident ECS and Mary can take the honor next year with their continued dedication to diversity.