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UNG honors faculty members as “diversity champions”

The University of North Georgia honored two faculty members and one staff member with Diversity Champion Awards at the Aug. 12 faculty-staff convocation.

Hugo Collantes, senior lecturer of biology, and Dr. Bryan Dawson, director and principal investigator for the McNair Scholars Program and professor of psychological science, are the faculty honorees. Kyle Murphy, interim assistant director of Multicultural Student Affairs (MSA), is the staff recipient.

“UNG prepares students to lead in a diverse and global society. Essential to this mission is an environment that is welcoming, respectful, and inclusive of individuals and groups from a range of social, economic, and cultural backgrounds — an environment that embraces varied perspectives, values, and unique experiences,” Dr. Pablo Mendoza, UNG director of Diversity and Inclusion, said. “These recipients embody that approach.”

Hugo Collantes

Since being elected to chair the Faculty Senate Diversity Committee two years ago, Collantes has recommended and implemented a policy that encourages and rewards faculty to pursue adequate training in diversity, equity, and inclusion. It is his opinion that cross-cultural competencies are paramount to fostering understanding, empathy, and ultimately an effective change in the classroom and hallways.

His approach is grounded in learning and sharing approaches. Each committee member is an active participant as a result and has the opportunity to experience personal and professional growth. He worked to restructure the committee and expand it to provide greater representation and involvement.

Dr. Bryan Dawson

Dawson, along with the support of Dr. Christopher Jespersen, College of Arts and Letters dean, founded the College of Arts and Letters Diversity Committee, led the committee through the 2021-22 academic year, and continues as chair.

He has written and received multiple grants and played a critical role in the founding of the McNair Scholars, a program designed to prepare sophomores, juniors and seniors from all UNG campuses for post-graduate studies through involvement in research and scholarly activities. Participants are either first-generation college students with financial needs or members of a group traditionally underrepresented in graduate education who have shown strong academic potential. He makes time to get to know these scholars individually and continues to communicate with them after they have graduated.

Kyle Murphy

Murphy led MSA services and programs during a busy and productive spring semester, and he has crafted the summer and fall schedules for the MSA offices in Dahlonega and Gainesville. Additionally, he has provided hands-on advisement, support, and guidance for the student leaders of the many MSA clubs and organizations that rely heavily on this support and care to build and implement their day-to-day activities to help engage and connect students within the community to fully support their comprehensive success at UNG.

Murphy assisted with admissions tours and visits during the spring, and he hosted the MSA Orientation sessions this summer to ensure that new students and families are introduced to the vision and mission of the MSA program, and how these services and program can support their successful transition and progress at UNG.

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