This year’s sixth annual Diversity Award ceremony event felt different. Pre-COVID-19, the event would have been held at the SURC ballroom where family and friends could attend and cheer on their loved ones as they accepted their awards in person by President James L. Gaudino. This time around family and friends were congratulating loved ones via Zoom, over chat. The atmosphere was not the same without the loud excited people in the distance.
The Diversity Award ceremony is held to recognize students, faculty and staff who have helped CWU become a more diverse and inclusive space for all individuals. This year, the award ceremony recognized 13 students, faculty and staff members, and the recipient of the Bobby Cummings award.
As Gaudino attended his final Diversity Award ceremony at CWU, he welcomed the attendees to the virtual event and talked about the significance of the individuals recognized.
“These are individuals that speak up, that stand up, that let us know when we are doing well, so that they’ll do it again and let us know when we’re not doing as well so we can improve that,” Gaudino said.
The recipient of the second annual Bobby Cummings award was Keith Champagne. Champagne was the Associate Dean of Student Success and has now served as the vice chancellor for Student Affairs at the University of Alaska Fairbanks since December of 2017.
“It is very important to me to be receiving an award named after Dr. Bobby Cummings, my mentor and role model,” Champagne said.
Kandee Cleary, Vice President of Inclusivity and Diversity and Sociology faculty, said the Bobby Cummings Lifetime Diversity award was developed by Gaudino last year.
“It doesn’t happen every year, it only happens for those who have demonstrated a commitment to diversity, inclusion, belonging, equity over time,” Cleary said.
This is something Keith Champagne demonstrated during his time at CWU and now continues to do that equity work for the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
“I’m just really thankful for all the work that is being done across the university to make this place more belonging, for students, faculty, and staff,” Cleary said.
Beginning with the nominees, each division provides nominations. The president asks each vice president to nominate three people, except for ASL which nominates six because they are two-thirds of the university. Then there is a community nomination, and an “at large” nomination, which allows wildcats to nominate someone as well.