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MU Recognizes Contributions to Diversity by Students, Faculty, Staff

April 13th, 2016

Story Contact: Nathan Hurst, 573-882-6217,

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Officials from the University of Missouri’s Division of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity have selected two MU students, one faculty member, one staff member and one organization to receive 2016 Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Awards. The Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Awards are given to individuals or groups who have made exemplary contributions to any area of diversity within the past two years, including but not limited to issues of gender, racial-ethnic background, language, religious belief, sexual orientation, abilities and disabilities, national and geographical origin, and economic strata.

Diversity and inclusion are not just about demographics. Inclusion is crucial to carry out the university’s mission of providing all Missourians with a world-class research university through better teaching, research, public service and economic development. Excellence in inclusion can be seen through individual support of community members and influence in systemic changes that benefit our campus as a whole. It is reflected in the classroom through curriculum, research and intellectual discussion as well as campus climate, recruitment and retention of students, faculty and staff. This year’s recipients of Mizzou Inclusive Excellence Awards are:

  • Delan Ellington is a senior, scheduled to graduate in December 2016. Through the McNair Scholars program, Ellington researches the cultural effects of the black church on queer black individuals. He is a Kinder Summer Scholar in the Kinder Institute for Constitutional Democracy and was recently selected as a member of the Mizzou ’39 for the class of 2016. Ellington has been a part of several organizations working toward a more inclusive campus including Queer Trans People of Color, Chronically Awesome and Four Front Minority Student Council.
  • Ta’janette Sconyers is a doctoral candidate in the counseling psychology program in the College of Education. Born in Chicago and raised in Howardville, Mo., Ta’janette takes pride in her identity as a first generation student of color from a low-income background. It is because of this identity that she knows first-hand how it feels to be “othered” or excluded; thus, it is her everyday goal to promote and practice inclusion in her academic, personal and professional roles. Sconyers is now a graduate assistant with The Bridge, a new diversity and equity initiative in the College of Education which seeks to give all MU College of Education students a better understanding of social justice perspectives and obligations.
  • Chuck Graham is the associate director of the Great Plains ADA Center at MU, which provides information and training on the Americans with Disabilities Act. Graham currently serves as the chair of the Columbia Disabilities Commission and is on the board of directors of the Missouri Inclusive Housing Commission. He also is an adjunct faculty member in the MU College of Human and Environmental Sciences. Graham served as the assistant minority floor leader in the Missouri Senate. Also, he founded the Mizzou wheelchair basketball program and passed the bonding bill to provide the bulk of the finances for the Mizzou Arena during his time as the appropriations chair for education in the Missouri House of Representatives.
  • Kathryn Chval is the dean of the College of Education and a professor of mathematics education. Prior to joining MU in 2003, Chval was the acting section head for the Teacher Professional Continuum Program at the National Science Foundation (NSF). She has directed or co-directed research teams that received nearly $21 million in funding and has been the recipient of the prestigious NSF Early Career Award. Chval’s research utilizing innovative head-mounted cameras has informed the use of strategies to influence social processes and outcomes for Latino/a English language learners.
  • Diversity Peer Educators (DPE) is an initiative of the Multicultural Center which trains and educates MU students to facilitate dialogue and activities regarding identity, privilege and power. DPE has between 15 to 20 trained peer educators throughout the year who facilitate for student/community organizations, office programs, classroom settings, and local Columbia establishments. Their purpose is to have difficult, yet enriching dialogues surrounding inclusion, cultural competency and social justice. DPE reaches thousands of people throughout the academic year and has been hard at work for more than 17 years.