James Jones discusses the challenges of diversity

James Jones discusses the challenges of diversity

Racism is wrong. Clearly, objectively, patently wrong. Which means its opposite — embracing and promoting diversity — must be right.

Right?

According to James McCoy Jones, long-time faculty member and honored speaker at the March 10 luncheon of the University of Delaware Association of Retired Faculty (UDARF), this is a loaded question. Unlike racism (always condemnable) or rooting for the UD Blue Hens (always commendable), diversity is not a neatly defined moral absolute. It is far more nuanced than that.

“Diversity is one of these challenges where, if we do it right, we’ll be on a positive course,” said Jones, Trustees’ Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Black American Studies. “But if we don’t, we’ll be facing very serious problems.”

This may sound subversive. Haven’t we as a society determined that diversity is our strength — no questions asked? You can now buy that catchphrase in the form of sweatshirts, refrigerator magnets and embroidered Pinterest pillows. It is woven into the mission statements of companies selling everything from software to sunscreen. It is increasingly the mantle of leaders in business and government. It is, by all indicators, the future.

So… what gives?

According to Jones, who directs UD’s Center for the Study of Diversity, in the public consciousness there are two conflicting arguments for diversity. Each is correct. Each is valid. Yet, these arguments are sometimes at odds with one another, and this is problematic.

One of these positions is the so-called moral argument: Diversity efforts are a way to acknowledge historic racism and ameliorate those effects. The other position is the instrumental argument: Diversification includes and benefits us all. In other words, as author Peter Wood wrote in the New Boston Post in 2015: “Diversity is both kumbaya and Black Lives Matter.”

This duality, Jones explained, “can foster confusion and conflict.”

Consider statements on diversity written by universities. Jones said 75 percent of these adopt the instrumental — or kumbaya — approach. There’s nothing wrong with this, per se, Jones said, except for what the research shows: Black students are less likely to graduate and more likely to perform poorly in schools that adopt the we-are-all-in-this-together attitude.

“Groups who are concerned with biases they must overcome feel unfulfilled — and at times disrespected — when they are lumped with other groups with very different histories,” Jones said. “The inclusive idea — that everyone is better for it — does not work in a world that is seen as a zero-sum contest for resources, prestige and opportunity.”

On the other hand, the moral approach to diversity that acknowledges our different histories? Research shows whites feel excluded from this and, when they feel excluded, they fail to support diversity efforts, he said. Sometimes, they actively or passively oppose them.

Put another way: “Inclusion as a concept is both a goal of diversity and a challenge it faces,” Jones said.

These difficulties are compounded by other factors. For starters, diversity encompasses much more than race. There are variations of sex, gender orientation, religion, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation and immigrant status to consider, among other factors. Within an institutional framework, it’s impossible to  respond to them all. So, when formulating or analyzing diversity efforts, these differences get truncated into categories.

“Consider, for example, international students,” Jones said. “They may come from China, Southeast Asia, Japan, Middle East, Caribbean, South America and Africa, not to mention Europe. Considering this diversity of background, what does the international category even mean?”

Of course, these obstacles don’t take away from a research-backed truism: The more diverse we are at any level, the greater the gains in terms of learning and experience. The question, then, is not whether greater diversification should be attempted, but how to go about it in a meaningful way — one that goes beyond magnets and embroidered pillows.

For that, Jones explained, there must be constant negotiation and communication between groups. At both the institutional and personal levels, everyone must strive for openness when it comes to learning about and with others. And, in navigating this potentially tricky territory, we need to keep in mind, perhaps, the importance of understanding.

“Anthropologist Margaret Mead once likened people living in a post A-bomb world as pioneers,” Jones said. “I believe we are living in a post-diversity-explosion world, and we are all still learning how to do that….Yes, diversity is the new normal, but it is not yet normalized. It is still a work in progress.”

Article by Diane Stopyra, Photo by Kathy F. Atkinson | This article was originally published in UDaily on March 31, 2020.

Redding Lecture 2020

Redding Lecture 2020

The event on March 3 featured interactive courtroom drama, ‘Defamation’

 Photo and illustration courtesy of The Defamation Experience  

The Defamation Experience will headline the University of Delaware’s annual Louis L. Redding Lecture on Tuesday, March 3, at 5:30 p.m. in Mitchell Hall on UD’s campus in Newark.

The three-part experience features a live performance of Defamation, a riveting courtroom drama by award-winning playwright Todd Logan that explores the highly charged issues of race, class, religion, gender and the law. The premise is a civil suit in which an African American business owner is suing a Jewish real estate developer for defamation. The twist: the audience is part of the performance, playing the jury in the case. A facilitated discussion follows the show.

The show’s website describes Defamation as a 75-minute trial that “holds our prejudices and assumptions under a powerful lens, and does not let go except by way of an unsettling self-examination.”

Logan said that the experience is intended to generate honest conversation and challenge people’s preconceived notions about race, class and religion, leading to greater empathy.

The event is free and open to the public. Those interested in attending should register at www.udel.edu/006602. Reserve seats for a class or group by emailing dlperry@udel.edu.

Sponsored by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity, the Louis L. Redding Lecture honors the late civil rights pioneer, a prominent lawyer in Wilmington, Delaware, whose work led to educational opportunities for African American students in the state and nation.

In addition to the performance, Michael Vaughan, interim vice provost for diversity and inclusion, will recognize the recipients of the Louis L. Redding Diversity Award and the Louis L. Redding Scholar Award at the event. More information about the awards and the nomination process is available on the University’s diversity website.

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2019 Students of Distinction

2019 Students of Distinction

Dinner celebrates high-achieving students of color and their mentors

The University of Delaware was a transformative part of life for Wali Rushdan II. There was a lot of mixed emotions, he said.

“It was a time at which I was brimming with excitement about achieving my major goals in life,” Rushdan said. “At the same time, it was filled with anxiety and uncertainty about whether or not those ambitions would come to pass.”

Rushdan’s message to the 2019 Students of Distinction was to be proud of the honor and not to underestimate their individual potential. Rushdan was the keynote speaker at the May 1 event in Clayton Hall, organized by the Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson. The event celebrates the achievements of students of color and their relationship with their mentors.

Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity and professor of Africana Studies, during the 2019 Student of Distinction dinner.
Carol Henderson, vice provost for diversity and professor of Africana Studies, during the 2019 Student of Distinction dinner.

More than a decade ago, Rushdan was in their place when he was recognized for the same honor. He is now an associate at the law firm Fox Rothschild. He challenged the students to think carefully about what this honor means, including the obstacles, power and obligations that come with the distinction.

“What makes you a student of distinction, a key characteristic is that it’s not qualified. It’s a full stop,” Rushdan said. “These are things that you are committed to irrespective of the challenges that are in your way. These are your foundational principles. It’s a no-excuses mentality that you have.”

While the potential and drive are within the individual, Rushdan said he would not be where he is today without the many mentors that believed in him. He specifically recognized a few of those whole helped him at UD including Henderson, Center for Black Culture Director Kasandra Moye and former Director of Financial Aid Johnie Burton. He also recognized Gregory Williams, a partner in his law firm, who impacted Rushdan’s career.

Wali Rushdan II (second from left) speaks with students during the 2019 Students of Distinction dinner.
Wali Rushdan II (second from left) speaks with students during the 2019 Students of Distinction dinner.

“At every stage in my life, I’ve been the beneficiary of mentors,” Rushdan said. “Some of which happened organically. Many of which did not look like me. Many of which had different cultural experiences than I did. So I want to make sure we’re clear that mentors can take many different forms in your life and sometimes you have to be proactive about seeking them out.”

He closed by asking the audience to participate in a call and response of an affirmation he repeats regularly:

Now I am the voice. I will lead not follow. I will believe not doubt. I will create not destroy. I am a force for good. I am a leader. Defy the odds. Set a new standard. Step up. Step up. Step up.

Power of Mentorship

UD Provost Robin Morgan congratulated the full room of award winners on this special honor. Faculty and staff members can nominate any undergraduate or graduate students of color they believe are deserving of this award. Nominees are then celebrated at the annual dinner with their faculty and staff nominators.

“You’re here tonight, because someone noticed you,” Morgan said. “You caught their eye and you caught their attention. A faculty member or a staff member has looked at you and seen potential.”

UD Provost Robin Morgan (fourth from left) stands with keynote speaker Wali Rushdan II and several of the 2019 Students of Distinction.
UD Provost Robin Morgan (fourth from left) stands with keynote speaker Wali Rushdan II and several of the 2019 Students of Distinction.

Similar to Rushdan, Morgan said mentorship completely changed the direction of her life. Her mentor introduced her to new avenues, like the idea of going to graduate school. She warned them not to take the power of mentorship for granted.

“You are students of distinction and we are very, very proud of every one of you,” Morgan said. “We are also proud of the faculty and the staff members who identified you and taken their evening to come and spend time with us, too.”

Henderson congratulated the 2019 winners and emphasized the impact of mentorship on the larger UD community.

“You earned the right to be here,” Henderson said. “In this fashion, this distinction is by extension a community effort that owes much of its synergies to the African principle of Ubuntu: I am because we are.”

She thanked all of those who helped put the event together. She also recognized several high school student groups invited to the event in the hopes getting an introduction to UD and building relationships that may one day become mentorships. This included students from the mentoring-focused groups Ladies of Legacy and Aspira of Delaware, as well as Dha’zhea Freeman, who impressed judges of a YMCA of Delaware essay contest with her words about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Freeman is scheduled to be a first-year student at UD in the fall.

Henderson noted there are many ways to think about mentorship, but highlighted the interpretation by Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakis. He wrote, “True teachers use themselves as bridges over which they invite their students to cross; then, having facilitated their crossing, joyfully collapse, encouraging them to create bridges of their own.”

Some of the 2019 Students of Distinction gathered with their faculty-staff nominators at the annual dinner at Clayton Hall.
Some of the 2019 Students of Distinction gathered with their faculty-staff nominators at the annual dinner at Clayton Hall.

2019 Students of Distinction

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Behnam Abasht, Michael Abshat, Michael Babak, Matthew Bott and Jordyn Stevens

College of Arts and Sciences

Janelly Abreu, Victoria Acevedo, Javier Aguiar, Shumailah Ahmad-Statts, Patience Ankomah, Elaine Ansah, David Arredondo, Jason Austin, Kobe Baker, Keith Barnes, Thomas Bond, Sean Briscoe, Chenesia Brown, Camilo Cardenas, William Cavin, Jr., Sharlie Chisholm, Taurence Chisholm, Jr., Maria Chudzik, Nigel Clark, Norma Cruz, Rufino Cruz, Andre Cunningham, Wyatt Dawson, Leon DeShields, Jonay Desire, Kathryn Dias, Martine Edmond, Jean Filo, Braulio Florentino, Rigoberto Flores, Keynon Harris-Miller, Briana Kenry, Yanko Hernando, Lindsay Hoffman, Gillian Isabelle, Jayda Jenkins, Caleigh Johnson, Semaj Kelly, Edwin Lopez, Nana Marfo, Tylor Matthews, Keith Medley, Rigoberto Mejia, Donte Moore, Lizbeth Mora-Martinez, Eden Negusse, Brandon Okeyo, Comfort Osundina, Anthony Ozuna-Pena, Amorelle Penick, Garciela Perez, Courtney Porter, Michael Pugh, Daniele Richards, Maame Riverson, Ade Robertson, Atlas Moon Rodriguez-Decker, Barbara Romero-Duenas, Dianna Ruberto, Miata Smith, Jymere Stillis-Stanford, Michael Sydnor, Domonique Thurston, Santiago Vizcaino, Kayla Williams, David Wilson, Alexis Wrease, Heran Yosef, Marvin Smith

Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics

Queen Agboye, Leah Austin, Patrick Bingham, Andrew Connell, Martisha Durant, Amanda Flores, Shawn Futch, Paul Gathii, Jordan Glenn, Russell Harris, Arynn Hernandez, Cesar Hernandez Sanchez, Tiana Jarman, Jazzlynn Jefferson, Melissa Jones, Cindy King, Chris Lynch, Briana Mateo, Iyanna McCoy, Andre McMillan, Joshua Moreira, Onyekachi Njubigbo, Destini Robinson, April Singleton, Malachi Walker

College of Earth, Ocean and Environment

Hanna Baffone, Brielle Bianchini, Ramiro Bruno, Kaylee Croce, Marissa McClenton, Christine Obeng, Jared Williams, Iris Perez-Mazariegos

College of Education and Human Development

Racine Boyle, Kwaku Edusei, Maame Bema Kyeadea-Amponsah, Joshua Lewis, Kadisha Mack, Nicole Mejia, Timothy Penn, Lindsey Perez-Perez, Alexus Ramirez, Nicole Robinson, Jillian Solomon, Mie-Hawa Sumner, Deandra Taylor, Jordana Woodford, Christina Woodson, Nefetaria Yates

College of Engineering

Abubakarr Bah, Kelechi Chukwunenye, Jorge Hernandez, Chin-Pao Huang, Keira Morgan, Olivia Powell, Stephanie Ross, Daniel Sanchez Carretero, Alexis Withers

College of Health Sciences

Luisa Abadia, Ayomide Adeoti, Shantelle Aidoo, Nana Asante, Justin Brown, Jordan Carr, George Class-Peters, Rachel DeLauder, Ngozi Dom-Chima, Leon Elcock, Camille Rischer, Vivian Guyton, Francisco Hernandez, Cindy Iheanacho, Sierra Kahete, Danyella Lopez-Juarez, Meiling Genavieve Miranda, Lizette Morales-Ixtepan, Abdual Musa, Maria Noguez Perez, Amber Rance, Keyanna Riddick, Keddy Rwara, Kameelah Slater, Gloria Soto, Ariona Thornton

University Studies

Christina Baughan, Aderolake Bolarinwa, Cassandra Harris

 | Photos by Kevin Quinlan | 
2019 Women of Promise

2019 Women of Promise

Valerie Biden Owens encourages women to choose their own path

Women are primary forces, by nature, Valerie Biden Owens said. This is a fundamental truth, she told a room of mostly women students, faculty and staff during her keynote address at the University of Delaware’s annual Women of Promise dinner. The March 19 event, held in the Trabant University Center, celebrated the achievements of UD women and the power of mentorship.

Although the world continues to be hostile to women and there are many hurdles to jump though, building confidence is the first step to becoming a leader, Biden Owens said.

“UD gave me the freedom and the knowledge and the platform to nurture my confidence and to grow into myself and prove my brother right,” Biden Owens said, referring to her brother, Joe Biden, the former U.S. vice president and among UD’s most famous alumni. “Confidence begins with conviction. You must find your own true north — the values that you stand for and the things that you simply cannot abide.”

Biden Owens, who serves as vice chair of the Biden Institute at UD’s Joseph R. Biden, Jr. School of Public Policy and Administration, knows a great deal about finding courage throughout her career in politics. She was one of the first women in the United States to manage major campaigns, running all of her brother’s senatorial and presidential campaigns. She’s also served as a senior adviser to the United Nations and on the national board of the Women’s Leadership Forum of the Democratic National Committee. Biden Owens said she spent much of her career mentoring women on how to influence the political process.

She encouraged the women in the room to liken their journey to the famous words of the sculptor Michelangelo:

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it. I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.

“So many of us fail to see the angel in the marble when it comes to our own capacity to lead and that’s especially true of women,” she said. “So pick up your chisel, carve out your angel. Carve out your rightful place. When you’re finished carving your rightful place, turn around and hand that chisel to the woman behind you.”

Carol Henderson, UD vice provost for diversity, congratulated the women in the room on their journey to excellence. She reminded them of the purpose of this dinner.

“The Women of Promise dinner is one of those events that celebrates outstanding accomplishments of our student scholars and the mentors who inspire them to be their best selves — uniquely, creatively and courageously,” Henderson said. “This event was developed over 40 years ago by former assistant provost of women affairs, Ms. Mae Carter, to elevate the idea of mentoring on our campus.”

In addition to the women from all seven of UD’s colleges who were recognized as 2019 Women of Promise, Henderson also presented two diversity awards. Erin Rezich won the Mae Carter Scholarship Award, and the E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity was awarded to Regina Sims Wright.

UD President Dennis Assanis said it is no accident that this celebration was held during March since it is Women’s History Month. International Women’s Day was celebrated on March 8. It’s also a significant moment in time, as this year marks the 100th anniversary of Congress passing the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, though it wasn’t ratified by the states until the following year, so there are two chances to celebrate this important milestone, he said. Also this year, a record number of women took seats in Congress, he added.

At UD, many women have contributed to the University’s legacy, Assanis said. Historically, these women include Mae Carter, Amy du Pont, Bessie Collins and Winifred Robinson. More recently, it includes the women who are part of UD’s leadership team, including Provost Robin Morgan. Assanis also acknowledged his wife, Eleni Assanis, for her partnership throughout his life and career.

Women of Promise Dinner 2019

UD Provost Robin Morgan

It is now time for the younger generation of women to continue to shape that history, he said.

“If we truly want to accomplish our biggest advances in science, technology, health and engineering and the arts, we absolutely need to be committed to bringing more and more opportunities to the women in the world,” he said. “We can’t afford to leave anyone out of these conversations, so we need your contributions. That’s especially important.“

Morgan said she has many fond memories of this event throughout the years. She encouraged the room of mentees and mentors to make the most of their time together and of the network of women at UD.

“You’re going to carve your path, too, and as you do that and go forward, remember this night,” Morgan said. “Remember all the women you’ve gathered with and keep those connections. They’re really important to you and they will help you. We’re here investing in your future. We’re very proud of where you are now and extremely excited about where you will be.”

Flanked by UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson (left) and UD President Dennis Assanis (right), Regina Sims Wright won the E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity at the 2019 Women of Promise dinner.
Flanked by UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson (left) and UD President Dennis Assanis (right), Regina Sims Wright won the E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity at the 2019 Women of Promise dinner.

About Women of Promise

Through the years, Women of Promise has recognized exceptional female students at the University of Delaware. Women on UD’s faculty nominate both undergraduate and graduate students for this award. Each year a dinner is also held to celebrate and promote positive mentoring relationship between female faculty and the students they nominate. The event is organized by the Office of the Vice Provost for Diversity.

During the event, the recipients of the E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity and the Mae Carter Scholarship are recognized. The E. Arthur Trabant Award for Women’s Equity is given annually to any individual, department, administrative unit or committee that has contributed to equity for women at the University. The Mae Carter Scholarship is awarded to a female undergraduate student at the University who carries the values that Mae Carter has represented to the University community of women. The award highlights someone who continuously works to advance the status of women on campus.

Flanked by UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson (left) and UD President Dennis Assanis (right), Erin Rezich won the Mae Carter Scholarship Award at the 2019 Women of Promise dinner.
Flanked by UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson (left) and UD President Dennis Assanis (right), Erin Rezich won the Mae Carter Scholarship Award at the 2019 Women of Promise dinner.

2019 Women of Promise award recipients

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Juliann Callan, Samone DeFreese, Lindsay Erndwein, Leah Ferguson, Erin Jackson, Alexa Johnson, Julia Kesselring, Melissa Langer, Lauren Mosesso, Jaclyn Soulas, Taozhu Sun, Xinwen Zhang.

Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics

Leah Austin, Katelyn Beird, Julia Forster, Yuanxue Gao, Arynn Hernandez, Kelsey Lona, Iyanna McCoy, Shae Muller, Isabel Orticelle, Angelica Rivera, Caroline Ros, Kaitlyn Scott, Jacqueline Siino, Alisha Valdivia, Raveena Wadhwa, Emily Williamson.

College of Arts and Sciences

Simone Adkins, Lindsay Andrew, Christabelle Ayensu-Asiedu, Atieh Babakhani, Sierra Bacon, Seyanna Barrett, Maddie Cann, Amy Ciminnisi, Isabelle Cohen, Sydney Cole, Mary Grace Colonna, Mallory Coughlin, Ruiming Du, Dantae Elliott, Christiana Erba, Annabelle Fichtner, Amanda Flores, Anuththara Gangoda, Cara Giordano, Kirsten Gobb, Katherine Holden, Charquetta Hudon, Daykia Hunter-McKnight, Olivia Jaeger, Noor Jamal, Mariela Jimenez, Kate Kafonek, Samantha Kasehagen, Nicole Kushner, Jordan Langs, Lauren Lee, Linjin Li, Alison Lobo, Veronika Lynch, Heather Marsh, Katherine Mazur, Monica Mesa Alarez, Casey Moore, Brett (Mei) Moore, Kaitlyn Mounts, Katherine Nails, Natalie Pagenstecher, Ashley Paintsil, Jaina Patel, Diana Peterson, Olivia Reiff, Samantha Rex, Barbara Romero Duenas, Shannon Streisel, Caroline Tobin Luisa Turbino Torres, Laura White.

College of Earth, Ocean and Environment

Emily Aiken, Jacquelyn Attardi, Christina Baughn, Mindie Bitting, Saber Brasher, Katie Buell-Fleming, Alexis De Santi, Maryam Golbazi, Julia Guimond, Katie Hudson, Abigail Huebler, Laura Johnson, Jennifer Joseph, Emily Jaiser, Camille Kauffman, Kyra Kim, Rebecca King, Hannah Kirk, Emily Lewis, Carol Lyell, Haley Oleynik, Sophie Phillips, Nicole Rucker, Leanna Stackhouse, Rebecca Vandzura, Maoli Vizcaino, Zhaojun Wang, Rucha Wani, Emily Watson.

College of Education and Human Development  

Aly Blakeney, Natalie Brousseau, Claire Choi, Emily Harris, Libby Heiks, Laura Hougentogler, Jennifer Juarez, Imani Lawson, Samantha Leonard, Kathleen Manta, Suhey Matamoros, Hillary May, Nicole Mejia, Kaitlin O’Connor, Alexa Pedulla, Linette Ross, Angela Russo, Marissa Snyder, Deandra Taylor.

College of Engineering

Larissa Gaul, Ashley Gold, Zhang Guo, Emily Kolewe, Christina Le Febvre, Grace Mcllvaine, Shannon McNaul, Jennifer Medhaug, Laurie Metzler, Joy Muthami, Olivia Powell, Janelle Skaden, Haoran Wei, Katie Woodacre.

College of Health Sciences

Gercy Abad, Luisa Abadia, Kristin Alwell, Elanna Arhos, Elham Bakhshipour, Rachael Belinfontie, Cara Cicalo, Stephanie Davis, Kathleen Davis, Mingchang Ding, Jessica Eosso, Amy Jackson, Sarah Jacobs, Kate Koluch, Kathryn Krecicki, Tara McKenna, Shannon Murphy, Michelle Norton, Macy Oteri, Taylor Pearson, Rashiqah Syed, Christina Warden, Alexis Weikert, Madison Werth.

The 2019 Women of Promise dinner, held in the Trabant University Center, celebrated the achievements of UD women and the power of mentorship.
The 2019 Women of Promise dinner, held in the Trabant University Center, celebrated the achievements of UD women and the power of mentorship.
 | Photos by Lane McLaughlin | 
Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Fight to End Segregation Not Over

Mary Frances Berry delivers the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture

In the 1954 landmark case, Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court said separate but equal education was inherently unequal. Civil rights activist and educator Mary Frances Berry said despite this, segregation in schools persists today.

“[The belief was] that the good white people in America would do that right thing,” Berry said on Thursday, Oct. 25, when she spoke at the University of Delaware’s Mitchell Hall. “If we win the lawsuit and if we win the case in Brown, then segregation will end…. Well that didn’t happen.”

Berry shared these views during her keynote address at the annual Louis L. Redding Lecture, which honors the late civil rights activist and lawyer from Wilmington. Redding was part of the legal team fighting against segregation in the Brown v. Board of Education case.

UD President Dennis Assanis shared a bit about Redding and his legacy. Redding was the first African-American attorney admitted to the Delaware Bar, where he served as the only non-white member for more than two decades. In 2013, the University dedicated a new residence hall in Redding’s honor.

“The diversity that Mr. Redding helped create continues to increase our community today,” Assanis said. “We often say that the University was founded 275 years ago in 1743. I like to say that the inclusive excellence pillar of UD was actually founded in 1951 [when black students were first admitted to UD because of Redding’s lawsuit against the university], and that’s an important statement. We are grateful for Louis Redding’s vision and hard work.”

As part of the evening, awards were presented to individuals in the community who have made a difference.

Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, has dedicated her life to fighting for civil rights, gender equality and social justice. She served as the chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights from 1993 to 2004. A professor and former chancellor of the University of Colorado Boulder (the first woman to head a major research university), Berry has decades of experience with race and education.

She drew on these experiences to explain the challenges the U.S. education system continues to face. She focused first on K-12 education — the pipeline to colleges — where she said there is overemphasis on standardized testing. She dubbed the U.S. educational system, “standardized test score junkies.”

“Instead of testing people on what we taught them,” she said, “we test them on what we didn’t teach them.”

This obsession disproportionately affects students of color, particularly black and Latino students, she said. As a result, many end up left behind and never make it out of the pipeline to college. She offered that more teachers must be willing to meet students where they are, instead of teaching from where they are expected to be.

Due to the problems in the pipeline, the pool of college students start off with a diversity problem, Berry said. The number of minority students enrolled to earn degrees is a stark difference compared to the overall population.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, about 13 percent of black students and 18 percent of Hispanic students were enrolled in a degree-granting institution in 2016. Those numbers are 6.9 percent for Asian students, and less than 1 for Native Americans. These numbers are dismal, Berry said.

She noted that the institutional problems obviously extend outside of education. Speaking particularly of the black experience, she said there continues to be danger in everyday activities.

“It’s not just driving while black anymore,” she said. “It’s living while black.”

Although there is still much work to be done and it can often feel like little progress has been made, she said those who won awards that evening are examples of the change-makers society needs. Her message was just do something.

“If we want to make change, continue — all of you that got awards as well as the other people — to do what you can do,” Berry said. “There’s something you can do everyday. When you see something happening, you can do something, whether you do it surreptitiously or whether you do it out in the open.”

Berry examines these issues as well as other movements she’s been part of in her latest book, History Teaches Us to Resist: How Progressive Movements Have Succeeded in Challenging Times.

Honoring Change Makers

During the awards portion of the evening, UD Vice Provost for Diversity Carol Henderson thanked the honorees for their dedication in the fight for civil rights. She borrowed a few words from political leader and activist Nelson Mandela to highlight the impact of the winners.

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul — notes great humanitarian, social activist and former president Nelson Mandela — than the way in which a society treats its children,” Henderson said.

2018 Louis L. Redding Award Winners

  • Camille Sims-Johnson
  • Ramona Neunuebel

2018 Recognition of Legends Roll Call

  • Rep. James Johnson
  • Sen. Margaret Rose Henry
  • Raye Jones Avery
  • Beatrice Ross Coker
  • Patricia DeLeon
  • Jane Hovington
  • Lawrence Livingston
  • Maria Matos
  • Jeanne Nutter
  • Terry Whittaker
  • Freeman Williams
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award, Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program (right).
Co-winners of the 2018 Louis L. Redding Award were Ramona Neunuebel, assistant professor of biological sciences at UD (left) and Camille Sims-Johnson, director of UD’s Upward Bound Math/Science program.

 | Photo by Kevin Quinlan | 

Combating Food Waste

Combating Food Waste

UD students, faculty and Dining Services pitch in to fight waste, hunger.

Food waste is an extremely frustrating concept. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, approximately 40 percent of food in the U.S. is never eaten; simultaneously, one in eight Americans struggles to put enough food on the table.

The state of Delaware is no exception, so University of Delaware students, faculty and staff are pitching in to combat food waste. We highlight their efforts during National Nutrition Month and its 2018 theme “Go Further with Food.”

UD students

Junior Lauren Burkett (left) and senior Kristen Mathieson (right) are members of Nutrition and Dietetics Club at UD.

The student-run Nutrition and Dietetics Club at UD is educating the Newark and surrounding communities on food waste and insecurity.

“Making people aware of food waste is the first step in preventing it,” said UD senior Sarah Russel. “I personally decided to get involved with the club to extend my knowledge outside of class and into the Delaware community.”

The group will set up shop at Trabant Kiosk A throughout the month of March, providing education on topics such as smarter grocery buying, planning leftovers and portion sizes.

The Food Recovery Network, another student-run organization, carries the goal of reducing food waste by collecting excess food from the dining halls and donating the food to local food pantries. The students hold multiple food drives each semester; for Thanksgiving, these Blue Hens collected more than 200 pounds of canned goods.

“Food insecurity and food waste are major issues in our country and across the world,” said sophomore dietetics student Nicole Boylan. “These issues overlap with nutrition as an inability to access food and maintain an adequate diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies and many other health issues.”

UD faculty

Behavioral Health & Nutrition (BHAN) instructor Kristin Wiens teaches Sustainability and Food, a course that discusses strategies to shrink your personal food footprint such as reducing food and packaging waste. In the Food & Nutrition Education Lab in Willard Hall, Wiens lays out leftover food and items close to their “use by” date for the students to take home.

When The Tower at STAR Campus opens this fall, Wiens will help run the Demonstration Kitchen — a unique experiential learning space that doubles as a catering kitchen. In addition to classes, the space will host community members for sessions on topics like sustainability.

Wiens is also working with the Mike Popovich (College of Agriculture & Natural Resources) on the UD Farm. In addition to sourcing ingredients from the farm for classes, Wiens and Popovich collaborate on a farm-to-table healthy recipe video series showcasing seasonal produce grown on campus.

“We have people who are hungry. We have extra food. But the two things aren’t connecting to help solve the problem,” Wiens said.

BHAN adjunct professor Jennifer Linton is extremely active in nonprofit circles, working with groups like the Salvation Army’s soup kitchen. A few years ago, she started calling restaurants to ask about their excess food. Most said they threw food away out of fear of being sued. Concerned about this issue, Linton began investigating federal legislation and discovered the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act; it encourages donation of excess food to non-profit organizations for distribution to individuals in need and protects organizations from liability when donating to a non-profit. The Federal Food Donation Act of 2008 later built on this legislation, encouraging federal agencies to donate excess food.

Many large organizations have systems in place to put excess food to good use compared to smaller entities. For example, Sam’s Club works with Feeding America to rescue food from stores and redirect it to families facing hunger.

“Most businesses don’t know about these laws, know who to give to, or even consider donating,” said Linton.

Linton points to educating business owners on the donation legislation and looking at how other countries and cities are addressing the food waste issue.

France passed a law in 2016 that, if a store throws out food, it can be prosecuted. According to a recent NPR story, stores can be fined $4,500 for each infraction. While the law has gone through growing pains towards effectiveness, Linton said it’s an important step in the right direction.

She would also like to see the establishment of organizations like Philabundance in Delaware.

Philabundance, Linton said, is “doing everything to combat food waste including gleaning (harvesting leftover crops and produce from fields and orchards). As individuals we can do our part to help prevent food waste — not over-purchasing food and donating excess food to local pantries.”

UD Dining Services

UD Dining Services is combating food waste via its sustainability platform “Green Thread.” In partnership with Aramark, it weaves waste minimization into Dining Services across all 16 on-campus dining locations.

“As we help to minimize food waste, there are efforts our guests can take like being mindful of portion sizes and only filling your plate with amounts that are right for you,” said Debra Miller, Dining Services’ registered dietician.

Each semester, Dining Services partners with the Food Recovery Network. Since last spring semester, over 500 pounds of unused food has been recovered and donated to local, community food pantries.

UD Dining Services reduces, reuses and recycles throughout the food production and service processes. Examples include:

  • The Caesar Rodney Dining Fresh Food Company breaks down and diverts food waste from landfills through two mechanical bio-digesters, averting potent greenhouse gas emissions
  • All locations participate in the University’s single-stream recycling program, as well as Recyclemania
  • Perishable food is donated to the Food Bank of Delaware
  • Dining locations collect and recycle used cooking oil

About Community Engagement

The University of Delaware cultivates civic-minded, engaged citizens through partnerships that impact communities’ needs. Community-based experiences are woven into UD’s teaching, research and service activities where students, faculty and staff apply knowledge and creativity to the critical challenges facing communities — in Delaware and around the world. In 2015, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching recognized this commitment, designating UD as a community engaged university, an honor awarded to less than 10% of U.S. colleges and universities.

UDaily Article by Dante LaPenta | Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson | Courtesy of Jennifer Linton and UD Dining Services | March 21, 2018