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MU Recognizes Contributions to Diversity

April 2nd, 2015

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials from the University of Missouri Chancellor’s Diversity Initiative have awarded two MU students, one faculty member, one staff member and a program with the 2015 Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Award. The Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Award is given to individuals or groups who, as part of the Mizzou community, have made exemplary contributions within the past two years to any area of diversity, including but not limited to issues of gender, racial-ethnic background, language, religious belief, sexual orientation, abilities and disabilities, national and geographical origin, and economic strata.

“Inclusive excellence” refers to the fact that diversity is more than demographics; diversity is integral to the university’s mission of providing all Missourians with the benefits of a world-class research university through better teaching, research, public service and economic development. Inclusive Excellence is reflected in the campus climate, curriculum, intellectual discourse, scholarly products, and recruitment and retention efforts. This year’s recipients are:

  • Olaitan Akintola is a senior studying psychology in the College of Arts and Science. She serves as the president of the Association of Black Psychologists-MU Student Circle Chapter and as a representative and co-event coordinator for the African Students Association. Akintola tutors with the “A Way With Words & Numbers” program, serves as a mentor for the “Moving Ahead Youth Program” through the Columbia Housing Authority, and works as an under graduate research assistant for the positive psychology motivation lab. Akintola plans to pursue a master’s degree in social work next fall at MU while advocating for change for underrepresented groups.  Following her graduation, Akintola will return to her native country of Nigeria and hopes to establish an organization that supports young women.
  • Kelsie Coe is a second-year student in the MU School of Medicine. She previously served as an undergraduate member of MU Diversity Peer Educators and currently is involved as a mentor to undergraduate health sciences students through the Student National Medical Association. Coe also participates in the development of diversity programming initiatives within the School of Medicine. For the last year, she has worked on an academic research project to identify behaviors considered by medical students to be indicative of an inclusive learning environment. She hopes this data will be used to further strengthen the culture of inclusivity within the School of Medicine. Coe plans to continue her involvement in the promotion of diversity and inclusivity in medicine throughout her career.
  • Elisa Glick is associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies in the MU College of Arts and Science. An openly gay faculty member who specializes in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer studies (LGBTQ), Glick’s research focuses on the relationships between queer sexualities, cultural modernism and capitalism. During her 15 years at MU, she has developed curriculum that addresses the cultures, histories and experiences of LGBTQ people. Glick also has worked to advance LGBTQ issues, feminism and a culture of inclusion by mentoring and advising students and serving as a faculty adviser for various student groups such as the Proud Tigers LGBTQA Mentorship Program. Extending dialogues about race, class, sexuality and gender beyond the classroom, she speaks about queer culture and social justice issues on campus and around Columbia. She has received a 2015 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence and was recognized with a Provost’s Outstanding Junior Faculty Teaching Award in 2006. In 2002, she received a Catalyst Award for outstanding service to the LGBTQ community.
  • J. Nicholas Holladay joined the Division of Biological Sciences as an academic adviser in 2010 and is responsible for the academic development of more than 450 students majoring in biology. In addition to advising students, he leads a career explorations course for biology majors, learning strategies and college skills courses, and two seminar/discussion-style courses that survey a range of issues of special importance to transfer students and international students. He also is the adviser for MU’s First Generation Student Association.
  • MU Extension 4-H Latino Youth Futures
    Latino Youth Futures Program, led by Alison Copeland, Alejandra Gudiño and Kaycee Nail, serves Latino student-members of the 4-H Center for Youth Development. The program addresses the educational and social needs of Latino high school students and works to increase rates of college enrollment among those students. Latino Youth Futures targets Latino students, age 12-18 years, and their parents. As the students learn about college planning, parents learn how to support their children in this preparation process. The programming includes mentoring, ACT readiness, college visits, conferences, and financial literacy. The success of this program is evident in its outcomes: 49 participants graduated from high school, and 76% (36) entered an institution of higher education in 2013. These numbers translate into changed lives, stronger families, and a more integrated community.

Inclusive Excellence Honorable Mentions have been given to:

  • Antonio J. Castro is an assistant professor in the College of Education. Castro’s research interests include the recruitment, preparation and retention of teachers for culturally diverse contexts and urban schools, as well as multicultural citizenship and democratic education. Prior to serving as an assistant professor, Castro taught in urban schools and worked in a variety of outreach and educational programs for low-income and minority populations. He currently teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in diversity and social studies education and supports diversity initiatives in the College of Education, throughout the University and within local area schools.
  • Suzanne Burgoyne is the director of the new MU Center for Applied Theatre and Drama Research and Curators Teaching Professor of Theatre. Pursuing her interest in theatre techniques as pedagogy for other fields, she has been a Kellogg National Fellow, a Carnegie Scholar, and a Fulbright Scholar. Burgoyne and Clyde Ruffin founded the Mizzou Interactive Theatre Troupe in 2003. As producing director of Mizzou ITT, Burgoyne has participated in three major MU grants that have addressed general diversity topics, gender issues within STEM fields and doctor-patient communication regarding breast cancer. Named a 2003 Outstanding Teacher by her national professional association, Burgoyne also received a Kemper Award in 2004. Her latest book, “Thinking Through Script Analysis,” embeds explicit learning of critical, analytical and creative thinking in the disciplinary techniques.