Kennesaw State celebrates winners of 2014-2015 Presidential Diversity Awards

Ceremony highlights University’s efforts to encourage climate of inclusiveness KENNESAW, Ga…

Georgia (Apr 24, 2015)

This year's guest speaker was Bobby Olive, the first African-American counselor hired at Kennesaw Junior College in 1971 in the Higher Education Achievement Program (HEAP).
Olive shared instances of how a lack of understanding of different cultures created unnecessarily awkward situations, including one on a personal level. While working at Delta in the 1960s, Olive and other black ramp agents were called into a meeting with the airline’s CEO. The CEO was concerned blacks there were unhappy, or so he had been told. Olive assured him that they were. The CEO then asked if they were so happy why were they carrying blackjacks, small batons used for self defense. What other ramp agents — and the CEO — mistook for weapons was actually the protruding end of an Afro pick used for grooming.
“He (the CEO) must have laughed for 20 minutes,” Olive said. “But what he did was he promoted an African-American to the ticket counter. Because if the guys on the ramp think you’re carrying a blackjack, what do you think they’re thinking on the ticket counter? The first African-American got promoted because the CEO saw there was a need for diversity.”
Olive shared with the audience that there are always teachable moments when it comes to diversity and that they must take the time and opportunity to use them. He added that they should always ask questions, but listen first; to never stop learning and to always look for the common ground. 
The Presidential Commissions on Disability Strategies and Resources, Gender and Work Life Issues, GLBTIQ Initiatives, Racial and Ethnic Dialogue, Sustainability, and Veterans Affairs called for nominations to recognize individuals who have exemplified the mission of each commission. Malewski said the Presidential Diversity Awards, which represent important campus initiatives, pay tribute to the principles of diversity, equity, transparency and shared governance.
Award winners
Eileen O’Laughlin, assistant director of Career Services on Kennesaw State’s Marietta Campus, received the Carol J. Pope Award for Distinction in the Disability Strategies and Resources category. Her nomination was on the strength of her career service to students and in assisting each student with preparation for the world of work. Her nomination stated, “She strives to ensure that students with disabilities have the equal opportunities when it comes to access and integration into our campus culture. By working closely with both Student Disability Services and various campus departments, she has been successful with creating on-campus work opportunities for students with disabilities.”
Elizabeth Boyd, assistant professor of Management in the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship in the Michael J. Coles College of Business, received Outstanding Contribution Award in the Gender and Work Life Issues category. Her nomination noted, “She is an outstanding candidate because of the work she does with gender and the workplace as well as her research on work/life issues.”
Jessica Duvall, assistant director in the Student Development Center, received the Teresa M. Joyce Award for Excellence in the GLBTIQ Initiatives category. Her nomination stated that she epitomizes advocacy and innovation relative to GLBTIQ initiatives and programming. “Her efforts have resulted in a number of life-changing events that have lent our GLBTIQ communities a voice and a vital presence on the Kennesaw State University campus. She has been educating the Kennesaw community for a number of years on GLBTIQ issues, and her efforts have had a significant impact.”
Ernesto Silva, coordinator of Latin American and Latino Studies Program and associate professor of Spanish in the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies, received the R.O.H. Social Justice Award in the Racial and Ethnic Dialogue category. His nomination made note of his steadfast commitment to diversity and social justice and that his leadership of the LALS Program “is perhaps his greatest achievement at KSU. Through this critical venue, he has touched the lives of countless underrepresented students on their educational trajectories.”
Tiffany Smith, a Global South Project administrative assistant and Kennesaw State graduate student, received the R.O.H. Social Justice Award in the Racial and Ethnic Dialogue category. She was cited for her community activism.
Roderick Williams, second-year student in the Department of Architecture, received the R.O.H. Social Justice Award in the Racial and Ethnic Dialogue category. Williams is the founding president of the Kennesaw State chapter of National Organization of Minority Architecture Students (NOMAS). He created the NOMAS lecture series that has brought in speakers to discuss race in the profession. “Roderick’s initiative served an important need that may not have been met in the general lecture series, one that provided our students of color with a vision of themselves and their future careers as architects.”
Robin Taylor, agricultural/forestry professional in Campus Dining and Culinary Services, receive R.C. Paul Excellence in Sustainability Award. Taylor, who became farm manager in 2009, is cited as being a tireless advocate for sustainable dining and, “from the very inception of our farm-to-campus initiative, Robin has played a central role in every aspect of building this program from the ground up.”
Dawn Ramsey, director of the Office of Faculty Support and Development on the Marietta Campus, was selected to receive the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award. She was cited for having been an influential and pivotal member of the military task force at the Marietta Campus. “Over the years, she has proven to be a woman of undeniable dedication to the veteran community and impeccable character. Her efforts of exemplary volunteerism have not gone unnoticed as she has shown to be the glue that has held the coalition of students, faculty, and staff that serve those student-veterans, together.”
Percy Ivey, retail office professional in the KSU Bookstore, was selected to receive the Excellence in Service and Leadership Award. His nomination highlighted his dedication to the student-veteran population and to the university as a whole: “His ability to manage the campus bookstore while simultaneously devoting his time to both the ROTC club as an advisor and as an active member of the Presidential Commission for Veteran Affairs.”


A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit