The campus closed out the spring semester with its annual Honors Banquet. At the event, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek celebrated faculty, staff, and students for their accomplishments throughout the past academic year. Tennessee Today has been highlighting those who received recognition for their efforts to support the campus’s mission.
Award recipients included:
Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol Of Hope
The Hardy Liston Jr. Symbol of Hope Award goes to a faculty member, staff member, or friend of the university who demonstrates a commitment to diversity, multiculturalism, and appreciation of the differences in people and cultures on our campus.
For nearly thirty years, Amadou Sall has been one of the most visible and beloved advocates of internationalism and interculturalism on UT’s campus and in the wider community.
As a lecturer of Africana studies, Sall has been a leader in promoting diversity and multicultural understanding both within and outside the classroom. He regularly organizes events to broaden peoples’ understanding. Since the 1980s he has worked with the African Student Association on their annual production of Africa Week, and last year he organized an African film series on campus. He also founded and now leads an annual Africana studies mini-term trip to Ghana, and last summer he took students on a service-learning trip to Cape Town, South Africa.
Sall has been honored for his dedication with the University Citation for Excellence in Teaching, the Outstanding Adult Educator–East Tennessee College Alliance Award, and the Black Graduate and Professional Student Association’s Outstanding and Dedicated Service Award, to name a few.
Sall’s students “learn in ways that far exceed what they can get from any book or film; he challenges them interculturally, intellectually, and personally in all sorts of vital ways,” his nomination noted. He is currently UT’s sole faculty member teaching Fulani, the university’s first and only African language course.
African American Hall Of Fame
This spring semester was sadly marked by the death of longtime UT employee Marva Rudolph.
A Chattanooga native, Rudolph worked in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and human rights for over thirty years. Before joining UT in 1990 as a specialist in affirmative action, she worked with the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. In 1994, she was named assistant director of UT’s Diversity Resources and Education Services office, later renamed the Office of Equity and Diversity, and she became the office’s director in 1999. In 2013, she was promoted to associate vice chancellor.
Rudolph worked to ensure equity in university recruitment and helped students and employees resolve issues related to equity and diversity. She also was responsible for ensuring the university’s compliance with federal diversity and disability requirements. She was very involved with the Commission for Blacks, serving as a commissioner, a member of the executive committee, and chair of the bylaws committee. She remained active with the commission until shortly before her death, stressing the need for Knoxville business owners to be involved in encouraging African Americans to stay in the city and work for its future growth.
Rudolph passed away on February 6. Recognizing her lifetime of service, Chancellor Jimmy G. Cheek said, “Marva was a recognized diversity professional who worked tirelessly to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion at UT.”
The Commission for Blacks has chosen to add Marva Rudolph to the African American Hall of Fame to honor her decades of distinguished service, leadership, and advocacy for a diverse and inclusive campus environment.
Marva Rudolph Diversity Award (Diversity And Interculturalism Unit Excellence Award)
The College Of Communication And Information, headed by Dean Mike Wirth, is the recipient of the first Marva Rudolph Diversity Award for the breadth and depth of its diversity efforts on both the college and campus levels.
Since 2007, the college’s Diversity Student Leaders Society has provided “an open and accepting community for students of all backgrounds, races, genders, cultures, religions, and sexual orientations” and uses educational opportunities to promote understanding, according to the nomination. The DSLS is open to all interested students, both in the college and across the university. In just the past year, the society’s major events have included a Diversity and Inclusion Week featuring keynote speakers, open forums, discussion sessions, and workshops; an Experience Diversity Banquet honoring a prominent individual who has demonstrated a commitment to diversity and inclusion; philanthropy projects for local at-risk groups; professional sessions on resume writing and interviewing skills; and leadership training and development.
The college’s leadership has worked with its faculty to promote diversity in their classrooms and their coursework, and has developed ways to measure and track their progress. The college also has boosted its recruitment and hiring of diverse faculty members and its identification and cultivation of diverse candidates for future faculty positions. A Diversity Committee has been formed to make recommendations on how the college can reach its diversity goals. These efforts also have resulted in greater fundraising success, with the college’s development team securing external gifts to support its diversity programming.
The new Marva Rudolph Diversity Award (Diversity and Interculturalism Unit Excellence Award) is awarded to an office, program, department, or college that has demonstrated outstanding leadership and made consistent contributions to advancing diversity and inclusion at UT. The award is named in honor of Marva Rudolph, an associate vice chancellor and director of the Office of Equity and Diversity who passed away in February after more than twenty years with the university and more than thirty years of dedicated work in diversity and inclusion.