By SUSAN JONES
The Provost’s Awards for Diversity in the Curriculum honored six Pitt faculty members last week and bestowed special recognition on the team that created last fall’s anti-Black racism course.
The awards recognize faculty whose efforts to strengthen their teaching practice by incorporating diversity in the curriculum and creating inclusive learning environments have resulted in changes in the impact, Cynthia Golden, director of the University Teaching and Learning Center, told those gathered on Zoom.
Keynote speaker Clyde Wilson Pickett, Pitt’s Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, said that “the classroom is paramount and center to the work that we do. And I recognize that as we embrace the understanding of this work, we acknowledge that diversity is a fact, to be inclusive is to take action, and that equity is an outcome that requires commitment. And that commitment to advance knowledge and learning starts in the classroom.
“As an educational entity, it is our duty as a university to create a space where our students, our faculty have the ability to achieve at their highest levels of success,” he continued. “And it is our responsibility to provide them with opportunities where their unique qualities and characteristics are valued, and not considered barriers in achieving optimal success.”
Pickett said that applying culturally responsive approaches to teaching and learning benefits all students. “Diverse curriculum exposes our students to various cultures, while simultaneously validating the importance of those cultures.”
The people being honored are “colleagues who instruct and develop the inclusive curriculum and who remind us that inclusion is a priority to learning,” he said.
Pickett, who came to Pitt just last year, said he’s “encouraged to be a part of an institution where we celebrate diversity in curriculum. I’m encouraged to be a part of an institution where equity, diversity and inclusion are not just ideologies that we discuss for mere theoretical purpose, but rather our strategic values supported by our colleagues who are in the classroom, by our leadership, and our practice in our day-to-day interaction in the classroom.”
In introducing the award winners, Provost Ann Cudd said that “we know from the numbers of faculty who are engaged in the events and activities focused on inclusive teaching and on building inclusive curricula, that Pitt faculty are making special efforts to affect real change in courses and in the learning experiences designed for our students.”
The awards are open to all full-time and part-time faculty who have taught the modified course or revised curricula, and assessed the impact of those modifications, within the past three years. A committee of previous winners reviewed the nominations and made recommendations to Cudd.
The winners are:
Thomas Akiva, School of Education, associate professor in the department of Health & Human Development and director of the schoolwide Ed.D. program. Recognized for making equity and anti-racism a central focus in the Ed.D. program’s onramp course and subsequently in the entire Ed.D. curriculum.
Kayla Booth, School of Computing and Information, director of the iSchool Inclusion Institute and a research assistant professor. Recognized for enhancements to the iSchool Inclusion Institute, which is a diversity, equity and inclusion initiative that prepares students from underrepresented populations for graduate study and careers in information and computing.
Zsuzsa Horvath, associate professor and director, Office of Academic Career Advancement, and Christine Wankiiri-Hale, assistant professor and associate dean for Student Affairs, School of Dental Medicine. Recognized for guiding students in the development of curricular content for the module “When the Appointment is No Longer About Dentistry,” to help students address microaggressions and prepare them to handle and respond to inappropriate patient content, compliments and behaviors in a culturally sensitive manner.
Lauren Jonkman, assistant professor, Pharmacy and Therapeutics, School of Pharmacy. Recognized for integrating social justice and health equity into the Population Health and Management core course in the Pharm.D. curriculum to ensure that all students have the knowledge and skills to identify and address inequities.
Andrew McCormick, associate professor of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, and Dara Mendez, assistant professor, Epidemiology, Graduate School of Public Health. Recognized for enhancing clinical experience courses for first-year students by introducing a book club that explores the history and ongoing practice of racism within medicine.
Finally, Cudd gave special recognition to the team, led by Yolanda Covington-Ward, chair of the Africana Studies department, who were instrumental in the launch of the anti-Black racism course this past fall. Cudd said 5,054 students were enrolled in the class, which was provided free to all first-year students.
“What I find especially impressive about the efforts made on the part of Dr. Covington-Ward and the exceptional committee she led is the integration of a variety of scholarly disciplines spanning the humanities, social sciences, the arts, education, social work and public health to explore themes to help students understand how anti-Black racism functions in U.S. society,” Cudd said.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
Have a story idea or news to share? Share it with the University Times.