Professor to be honored with diversity award

Every year, as California Lutheran University seniors prepare to graduate, each student has the opportunity to nominate a professor to win the university’s Diversity Professor of the Year award. Seniors submitted their choices for candidates by April 17.

Juanita Hall, the senior director of Multicultural and International Programs at CLU, came up with the idea for the award during the 2006-2007 academic year. The first award went to Michael Brint, who has a doctorate in politics.

“I was looking for ways to encourage and acknowledge teaching that reflected the university’s values around diversity and inclusion,” said Hall in an email interview. “The award is important because it encourages and rewards excellence in teaching from a diverse and inclusive perspective and we are educating leaders for a global society.”

Winners receive an inscribed glass award and hear some of the comments that students made in their nomination of the faculty member. Although the students vote for their nomination, the winner of the award must meet a certain criteria.

“The professor with the most nominations and compelling comments wins. We look for professors who embody the values of diversity and inclusion and who challenge their students to be more open-minded in their thinking about diversity issues and who encourage diverse perspectives and use diverse teaching methods to reach their students,” Hall said.

Although there is no second place title, Hall sends letters to faculty members who received multiple nominations along with comments from the students who nominated them. Students are welcome to nominate any professor, but Hall has found that most winners have been professors within the social sciences departments like sociology, religion and political science.

“I really appreciate the award because, like students, professors should also be honored for promoting an inclusive environment, being open-minded and facilitating diverse conversations in and outside of the classroom,” said senior Shakivla Todd in an email interview.

Rahuldeep Gill, who has a doctorate in religious studies and teaches global studies at CLU, was the recipient of last year’s award and has been awarded the title twice in his five years at the university.

“I think being a diversity professor means encouraging people to think differently and I try to do that in my classes, so it’s nice to know that people see that and care,” Gill said.

Gill explained what made winning more emotional for him was his nomination coming from students. He hopes that the award is an inspiration to faculty, as well.


Monica Linares
Staff Writer
Published April 23, 2014