New award aims to recognize staff for acts of compassion and inclusion

Vanderbilt is filled with staff who are dedicated not only to their work, but also to making the university a better, more inclusive community. The Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion wants to recognize these dedicated staff members in a significant way.

Through Wednesday, Nov. 15, nominations are being accepted for the inaugural Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Leadership Award, which recognizes achievements in developing a culturally diverse, compassionate university community reflective of inclusive excellence. The honor comes with a cash prize of $2,500 and an engraved crystal bowl.

Tina L. Smith (Vanderbilt University)
Tina L. Smith (Vanderbilt University)

“The EDI Distinguished Leadership Award allows us to recognize, celebrate and say thanks to those staff who are our unseen champions of equity, diversity and inclusion,” said Tina L. Smith, interim vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer. “These are the people we interact with each day who, in addition to the great work they do for our institution, have a kind word or action or show a compassion for others, making our community a more welcoming, inclusive and beloved one.”

Smith said acts demonstrating equity, diversity and inclusion may take a variety of forms—from creating educational opportunities and providing strategies and tools that bring to life the vision of inclusive excellence, to fostering an environment that promotes everyday acts of kindness and compassion. The award seeks to recognize staff working in all areas and at all levels who are dedicated to bridging equity, diversity and inclusion across the Vanderbilt community.

Eric Kopstain (Vanderbilt University)

Vanderbilt’s senior administrators join Smith in encouraging staff to submit nominations for the award. “We realize that staff can be found in all corners of Vanderbilt’s campus doing things every day that go beyond their formal job descriptions to make the university a more welcoming and inclusive place to work,” said Eric Kopstain, vice chancellor for administration. “We want to recognize these efforts and make sure staff know they are tremendously appreciated for what they contribute to our overall sense of community.”

Candidates for the EDI Distinguished Leadership Award must be regular full-time staff members with a minimum of three years of consecutive Vanderbilt service whose work role is not specifically dedicated to equity, diversity and inclusion.

Criteria for the award is as follows:

Impact: an individual who has had an impact on the campus environment in a way that substantially enhances the institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts.

Performance: an individual whose overall performance goes beyond the scope of their position at the university and reflects a high level of service, dedication, compassion and applied skills to the support of equity, diversity and inclusion.

Awareness: an individual who has contributed to raising awareness about equity, diversity and inclusion in accordance with Vanderbilt University’s mission.

Submit a nomination for the EDI Distinguished Leadership Award >>

Nominations are due by 11:59 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Print a flier for the EDI Distinguished Leadership Award to post in your work area.