The University of Georgia presented scholarships to students and recognized certificate graduates Thursday afternoon as part of its annual event to embrace diversity.
“It is important that we take this time out of our normal schedules to pause, to recognize and appreciate the richness of this diversity,” said Michelle Cook, associate provost and chief diversity officer of the Office of Institutional Diversity.
J. Marshall Shepherd, UGA Athletic Association professor of geography and atmospheric sciences and president of the American Meteorological Society, gave the keynote address, stressing that diversity expands one’s radius of influence, something he praised UGA for doing.
“A broad set of friends, a broad set of exposures, expands our radius,” he said in addressing a Chapel audience of about 100. “Limited radius can have implications to our society.”
He also said mentorship is important and that more mentors are needed to inspire young people, mentioning that he originally declined consideration to be the next president of the American Meteorological Society, but changed his mind when he realized what an important opportunity it was to inspire kids seeking role models.
The UGA Alumni Association and Athletic Association each presented scholarships to freshmen UGA students during the event.
Charles Orgbon III received the Black Alumni Association Scholarship for “dedication to racial equality through previous experience, initiative, and creativity in improving race relations in the community,” according to the event program, while Genesis Castro and Omar France were each awarded the Diversity Scholarship for “demonstrated dedication to diversity in their community.”
L. Randolph Carter, coordinator of faculty and staff development for the Office of Institutional Diversity, led the recognition of the 2014 UGA Diversity and Inclusion Certificate graduates.
“I am extremely excited because never before in the history of the University of Georgia have we had 137 [members] of our staff graduate from a certificate program in anything, let alone to say diversity,” he said.
The 137 staff members receiving the certificate, which “creates an opportunity for faculty and staff to explore strategic areas around diversity and to learn more about the ways in which they can assist in ensuring that UGA is welcoming and inclusive of all communities,” according to the program, is up from 78 graduates in 2013 and 17 in 2012, Carter said.
“It’s not just about expanding our radius — now that you’ve got the certificate you can expand other peoples’ radius,” Shepherd said.
Former UGA employee Joan Rhoden, who came to see her daughter Jill Rhoden graduate with the certificate, said UGA’s work brings diversity to an “exciting level.”