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Diversity Trailblazer Award

Nomination Information

The Kent State University Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is now accepting nominations for the 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award. The annual Diversity Trailblazer Award recognizes diversity pioneers associated with Kent State University. The award is given to those individuals who have displayed exemplary contributions in the area of diversity to the University Community.

Nominations can be sent to Diane Matasek, Room 252 Library or by e-mail to by December 13, 2013.

To nominate an individual for the Diversity Trailblazer Award, complete the nomination form that can be found by clicking the following link:

2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award Nomination Form

Diversity Trailblazer Award Nomination Eligibility and Criteria

Download the 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award PDF

2014 Diversity Trailblazer Recipient Ms. Judy Devine

2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award Recipient, Judy Devine. Click Here to read more.

Ms. Judy Devine accepting the 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award

Judy Devine, a long-time member of Kent State University's Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, has been awarded the university's 2014 Diversity Trailblazer Award. The annual Diversity Trailblazer Award recognizes diversity pioneers associated with Kent State. It is given to those individuals who have displayed exemplary contributions in the area of diversity to the university community. Devine was presented with the award during the university's 12th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration held Jan. 23 in the Kent State University Ballroom.

Considered the matriarch of Kent State University Athletics, Devine retired from her post as senior associate athletic director in 2000 following 31 years in a variety of roles within the department. Devine was nominated by Talea Drummer, assistant athletic director at Kent State. In her letter of nomination, Drummer wrote that Devine has "truly blazed a trail for gender equity for student-athletes, coaches and administrators" and "worked hard to make sure that women who participated in athletics were treated fairly." Drummer mentioned in 2010 that Devine, along with other members of the Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, held a lettering ceremony during Homecoming weekend to honor all of the pre-Title IX female athletes by giving them the varsity letter that was long-deserved. "If it were not for strong and determined women such as her, women (such as myself) would not be allotted the opportunities we have now," Drummer wrote.

2013 Diversity Trailblazer Recipient

Mr. Eugene Shelton

IMAGE: President Lefton and Mr. Gene Shelton

President Lefton presents Mr. Gene Shelton with the 2013 Diversity Trailblazer Award

Gene Shelton, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Kent State University, has been awarded the university's 2013 Diversity Trailblazer Award. Kent State's Diversity Trailblazer Award is a university-wide award that recognizes faculty, staff or a departmental group for their significant contributions to enhance diversity and inclusive excellence at Kent State.

Kent State President Lester A. Lefton presented the award to Shelton on Nov. 14 prior to the Kent State Presidential Speaker Series event with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

"There were several strong nominations for the 2013 Diversity Trailblazers Award, but out of them all, Gene Shelton's rose to the top," said Alfreda Brown, vice president for diversity, equity and inclusion at Kent State. "Gene Shelton is known as a champion of inclusive diversity and a strong advocate for diversity issues in faculty deliberations. His quiet, passionate but firm way of encouraging openness and helping others understand the challenges of diversity has had a lasting impact upon his colleagues."

2012 Diversity Trailblazer Recipient

Dean David Mohan 

IMAGE: Dean David Mohan

Dean David Mohan

The Division of DEI presented its 2012 Diversity Trailblazer award to Dean David Mohan of Kent State's Geauga Campus for his enthusiastic and effective leadership on diversity and inclusion in recruitment, academics and other Campus initiatives.

In accepting the award, Mohan thanked the faculty, staff and students at the Geauga Campus and the Kent State University Regional Academic Center. "This award reaffirms my belief that initiatives such as increasing diversity throughout an organization can best be accomplished by a team of dedicated individuals who believe and practice the tenants of an open and supportive culture of differing points of view and personal perspectives," Mohan said.

Mohan cited the successful diversity initiative that supports junior and senior high students in and around Cleveland's inner city, to help them value the importance of a university education. Those efforts focus primarily in the minority church congregations in several socioeconomically disadvantaged areas.

During Mohan's tenure, Geauga Campus minority enrollment has increased from 2 percent to between 12 and 15 percent, while retention for all students also increased. The full-time faculty at the Geauga Campus is 79 percent women and minorities.

2011 Diversity Trailblazer Recipient
Rev. Ronald Fowler

IMAGE: Rev Fowler
Rev. Ronald Fowler

Rev. Ronald J. Fowler, longtime area religious, civic and educational leader, has been presented the Kent State University Diversity Trailblazer Award for 2011 for his lifetime contributions in advancing diversity at Kent State and throughout Northeast Ohio.

A distinguished Kent State alumnus, Fowler is a member of the inaugural Hall of Fame of the College of Education, Health and Human Services, and a consultant to the university on diversity recruitment and retention. He also works with Akron and Cleveland public schools on behalf of the university.

Fowler also chaired the influential Commission on Inclusion, a broad-based panel whose 15 recommendations laid the groundwork for Kent State's push to "Inclusive Excellence" – now a core university value of maintaining a welcoming and nurturing learning environment for students, faculty and staff.

"The Trailblazer Award recognizes pioneers for diversity, those who bring proven sustainability and progressive change to our community," says Dr. Alfreda Brown, vice president for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. "That description could have been written with Rev. Ron Fowler in mind. His life has been one of tireless service and significant contributions to diversity and community engagement."

Fowler is well-known in the region for his long tenure as senior pastor of Akron's Arlington Church of God, as a board member of Akron Public Schools and as a leader in other civic and business boards and organizations.

2010 Diversity Trailblazer Recipient
Dr. Delores L. Noll

IMAGE: Delores Noll

Dr. Brown presents Trailblazer Award to Dr. Noll

The first Diversity Trailblazer Award to Professor Emeritus of English Delores L. Noll. The award was presented to Dr. Noll by President Dr. Lester Lefton and Kent State's Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Alfreda Brown.
A national pioneer in gay and lesbian issues, Noll was an early contributor to Kent State's own history of supporting Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender studies. That history goes back to 1972, when Noll became the first professor to teach a gay and lesbian issues course at Kent State. Noll also was a founding adviser to the Kent Gay Liberation Front, now called PRIDE! Kent, one of the oldest gay rights student organizations in the country.

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