MSU to Present Diversity Awards

STARKVILLE, Miss. (Press Release) — A forestry extension faculty member, a senior education major from Calhoun County and a campus support body for LGBTQ members are this year’s selections for top diversity recognitions at Mississippi State.

During a March 28 campus ceremony, the university President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities will present 2014 Diversity Awards to:

–Extension instructor Leslie Burger of the College of Forest Resources;

–Robert J. Morgan of Vardaman, a double-major in secondary education and mathematics; and

–The Safe Zone Advisory Board that works to promote a welcoming and safe community for students and employees who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or may be questioning their sexuality.

MSU President Mark E. Keenum will be the featured speaker for the 2 p.m. awards program and reception taking place this year in the Shackouls Honors College Forum Room of Griffis Residence Hall. The event is open to all.

Burger teaches in the wildlife, fisheries and aquaculture department. Also as a doctoral student at the university, she is researching the effectiveness of an environmental education program in a school with a diverse student body. She has developed a natural science youth program and initiated Women in Natural Resources, a mentoring group that has earned state and national praise working to recruit and retain women in natural resources-related professions.

Morgan, the son of Robert and Perry Morgan, has worked extensively to support international students on campus. In addition to serving as treasurer of the Starkville Multi-Culture Lions Club, he is employed at the English as a Second Language Center, where he has helped numerous international students adapt to campus life and receive other types of inter-cultural assistance.

The Safe Zone program includes volunteer faculty and staff members working daily to encourage awareness, advocacy and respect for LGBTQ members of the campus and local communities. To date, some 300 faculty, staff, students, and others have received advocacy training. Safe Zone’s efforts are supported by the Richard Holmes Cultural Diversity Center, Delta Omega Lambda service sorority, Student Counseling Services, Longest Student Health Center’s relationship violence and outreach department, as well as other Division of Student Affairs and academic departments.

President’s Commission on the Status of Minorities chair Gregory Hunley said the annual awards ceremony is a signature event which provides an excellent platform to honor those who are promoting diversity.

“It is very inspiring to learn about all of the recipients’ efforts through the many letters of support written on their behalf. We look forward to everyone joining us for this most worthy occasion,” Hunley said.

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