Diversity awards recognize work to make curriculum more inclusive

Diversity Award winners


Diversity and inclusion in higher education, said provost and senior vice chancellor Ann E. Cudd in announcing the 2018 Provost’s Diversity in the Curriculum Awards, “can be the engine of social mobility. We as educators change lives … We are a beacon for truth and for inquiry, but we also have a lot of work left to do, as recent events tell us.”

Alluding to the targeted murder of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Oct. 27, Cudd added: “Never has it been more important to value and respect difference.”

At a celebratory luncheon Nov. 9 in the University Club, Cudd acknowledged the continuing need to bring more under-represented minorities to Pitt as students and faculty. “We need to mindfully work toward equity,” she said. Diversity “is not just a word — it’s a critical ingredient in excellence.”

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the University Center for Teaching and Learning, the awards recognize faculty “whose efforts to strengthen diversity and inclusion in the classroom have resulted in changes of impact,” she said. That includes instituting classroom changes to expand cultural awareness, employing more inclusive and interactive teaching methods and creating more welcoming and inclusive learning environments. 

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Chosen by a committee of last year’s winners from among nominated full- and part-time faculty, the five winners for 2018 are:

Valire Carr Copeland, School of Social Work. Copeland was cited for 20 years of producing “classroom experiences that highlight the diversity of the student body and the population of clients the graduates will be working with … introducing readings by African Americans, women, LGBTQ, Latinx, Asian, Native American and those with physical disabilities.”

Ray Jones and Audrey Murrell, Katz Graduate School of Business and College of Business Administration. Murrell and Jones were cited for their teamwork of nearly 30 years on business school educational programs related to diversity, including the creation of the certificate program in leadership and ethics, a 16-credit program that introduces students to issues of ethics, leadership, corporate social responsibility and diversity. They also added service learning to the undergraduate business curriculum, offering students exposure to issues of diversity and inclusion in ethical leadership.

Christine Dahlin, Division of Natural Sciences, Pitt–Johnstown. Dahlin was honored for work that was “particularly impactful” for her 160 general biology students. “Her participation in diversity training helped her understand that students experience the classroom in different ways, and she incorporated specific changes in her courses, including adding an inclusivity statement into her syllabi, emphasizing the work of underrepresented groups” and developing diversity activities geared specifically toward the sciences.

Michael Goodhart, Department of Political Science, Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences. The committee noted that Goodhart “overhauled a course on American Political Thought after the 2016 election, recognizing that the traditional approach to teaching the course, focused on the dominant discourse of freedom, did not do enough to emphasize the ways in which exclusion and marginalization impacted a common understanding of freedom. … (H)e significantly revised the course, eliminating some material on the Puritans and Thoreau’s “Walden” and freeing up several weeks to show that the classical conception of freedom is predicated on slavery and exclusion, and he expanded and reworked the class unit on African-American political thought.” 

Lorin Grieve, Department of Pharmacy and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy. Grieve was recognized for revising curricula in pharmacy “to focus on care of underrepresented groups by designing a new course called LGBTQIA+ Health Considerations, (which) emphasizes inclusion and focuses on caring for transgender patients, gay and lesbian patients, intersex patients, non-binary patients and other underrepresented populations. … The course is changing the culture of the pharmacy school and impacting other courses offered, for example encouraging more content on LGBTQIA+ patients in the core pharmacy curriculum.”

Marty Levine is a writer for the University Times. Reach him at martyl@pitt.edu or 412-758-4859.