By Mary Engelker ‘17
On April 12, 2017, four members of the College of Liberal Arts’ faculty, staff, and students were honored for their outstanding contributions to diversity at the Department of Multicultural Services’ (DMS) Accountability, Climate, and Equity (ACE) Awards—the most from any institution on campus.
Liberal Arts is a leader in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment by fostering acceptance at all levels of the college. Like the college, inclusion is a priority of DMS, and their ACE Awards reflect the strides made by Texas A&M to honor one of the university’s core values: respect. Formerly known as the Diversity Awards, the ACE Awards acknowledge the efforts of those who promote the respectful treatment of every Aggie.
“We have many awards at Texas A&M,” said Christine Stanley, the vice president and associate provost for diversity. “However, this award symbolizes that diversity and inclusion are not only integral to academic excellence, but we also have faculty, staff, students, administrators, and members of the community here today who work to ensure that the campus is a welcoming place to everyone.
“To the winners…guess what? Your work has just begun.”
Below are the awardees from Liberal Arts. To see a complete list, visit the ACE Awards website.
Krista May is a staff member for the Department of English and recipient of the Phyllis R. Frye Advocacy Award, which recognizes the work done in welcoming transgender faculty, staff, and students through creating safe spaces and creating a dialogue about transgender realities.
May is currently an advisor for the new and official organization for transgender students, Transcend. She is also an advisor for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning/queer (LGBTQ) Aggies, and has helped LGBTQ students craft their narrative for “The Coming Out Monologues.”
May said she wants all students to feel valued, but especially transgender students who don’t always have support.
“As a non-binary, genderqueer person myself I always try to be supportive of queer students, staff, and faculty who are often overwhelmed by the challenges they face on our campus,” May said.
The award is named for Phyllis Frye, a transgendered A&M alum, lawyer, and award-winning LGBTQ advocate.
Associate professor in the Department of Communication and Associate Dean for Climate and Inclusion in Liberal Arts Srividya Ramasubramanian received the Women’s Progress Administrator Award, which honors students, staff, faculty, and administrators who encourage and promote sensitivity to and awareness of women-related issues.
Diversity and inclusion are central to Ramasubramian’s role as associate dean, and she is passionate about promoting gender equity amongst her peers and students. She advises the Women’s Organization for Motivation, Expression, and Nurturing, an organization that aims to work for women to ensure that their needs are understood, advocated, and promoted through education, expression, dancing, and learning. She has also worked on countless projects to promote and inform others of their legal rights through different programs, workshops, and training sessions.
“It is important that everyone, especially those from underrepresented groups, feel that they belong to the Aggie family,” she said. “And it’s important they know that their perspectives, lived experiences, intersectional social identities, and voices all matter.”
Stephanie Payne, a professor and the Mary Kay O’Connor Process Safety Center Faculty Fellow in the Department of Psychology, was honored with the Diversity Service Faculty Award, which honors those who strive to promote understanding and appreciation of diversity at Texas A&M.
Payne is known to always create an inclusive environment in her classrooms according to Inchul Cho, a doctoral student in psychology.
“Stephanie goes the extra mile to offer any assistance and help to all students no matter their race, religion, gender, age, or country of origin,” Cho said.
Payne has been a major part of the success of the ADVANCE center, which sustains gender equity and improves representation of women faculty especially in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). One of her many diversity projects touches on safety in the workplace by acknowledging cultural differences to promote better communication.
Felipe Hinojosa, an associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in Department of History, received the inaugural DMS Collaborator Award for his contributions to DMS’s student learning initiatives.
Hinojosa is the co-founder and co-coordinator for the Latina/o Studies Working Group, which is sponsored by the Melbern G. Glasscock Center for the Humanities Research. This year, he has been a speaker for numerous events hosted by the DMS and served as an advocate for social justice and equity for all students.
“I believe the moment we are currently living in demands that we write a new history, a history that highlights the freedom dreams and struggles of past generations, in order to build a more just and equitable future,” Hinojosa said.