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Jan. 30, 2023

Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards

MSU is recognizing individuals, teams and units for their exceptional and innovative contributions to advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in teaching, research, programming, service, community outreach and organizational change. The 2022-23 Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Awards ceremony will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 13 in the Big Ten Rooms at the Kellogg Hotel and Conference Center. 

Individual, Team and Unit Award

The Excellence in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award recognizes the emerging and/or sustained efforts made toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in thematic categories, including excellence in diversity, equity and inclusion; advancing knowledge and scholarly engagement; fostering engagement, collaboration(s) and partnership(s); advocating justice and equity; promoting learning and educating for inclusivity; and creating transformative organizational change.

Hilda Mejia Abreu

Hilda Meija Abreu

College of Veterinary Medicine

Hilda Meija Abreu is the associate dean for admissions, student life and inclusivity for MSU’s College of Veterinary Medicine, or CVM, acting as a catalyst for change and new initiatives promoting evidence based practice in enrollment management, student affairs and diversity, equity and inclusion. She is responsible for streamlining the infrastructure to enhance student affairs, club activities and scholarships and is chair on the Committee on Student Admissions and serves ex-officio on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. 

Abreu has overseen many changes to CVM processes and programs including the addition of DEI into the search committee process, leading difficult discussions about DEI in annual assessment and promotion criteria, supporting efforts to recruit underrepresented groups to the veterinary school and empowering student clubs to address DEI at the ground level. She also helped develop the 2016-22 DEI Strategic Plan, the first ever implemented within CVM, which has now elevated and prioritized DEI initiatives in the new CVM and MSU strategic plans that will carry the college into the next decade and beyond.

Salah Hassan

Salah Hassan 

College of Arts and Letters

Salah Hassan is the director of Global Studies in the Arts and Humanities program. He is an associate professor in the Department of English and a core faculty member in the Muslim Studies Program. He teaches courses that focus on the Middle East, anti-colonialism and culture, literatures of empire and Arab and Muslim American cultural production. 

Hassan has been an active advocate for campus initiatives, programs and units that promote diversity, equity and inclusion. He is also the founder of the Muslim Subjects website and blog and coordinator of the following projects on that site: “Migrations of Islam,” “American Halal” and “Journal/Islam.” He coproduced the short documentary film “Death of an Imam,” which explores the 2009 shooting of a Black Muslim imam in Dearborn, Michigan, and the way the incident was reported in the media. Hassan has been a member of multiple research projects that promote DEI values. For instance, in 2013, he was the principal investigator and project coordinator for “Crossroads of American Literature: A Collaboration between Iraqi and US Scholars,” which was funded by the Institute for International Education, or IIE, as part of the Fulbright Visiting Scholar Program for Iraq. 

Huey Wen Lin

Huey-Wen Lin

College of Natural Science 

Huey-Wen Lin is a tenured associate professor with a joint appointment in the departments of physics and astronomy as well as computational mathematics, science and engineering. Her primary research focuses on lattice quantum chromodynamics, or lattice QCD, calculations in theoretical physics using high-performance supercomputers.

Lin has been a strong advocate for outreach and DEI efforts since she was a postdoc more than a decade ago. She serves as the MSU representative to the American Physical Society, or APS, Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Alliance and as chair for the physics and astronomy DEI committee. Lin also serves on the United States lattice QCD community Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee and International Lattice Diversity and Inclusion Committee, where she helped introduce the first code of conduct and issue a diversity survey. Additionally, she actively integrates DEI principles and initiatives in her teaching and STEM courses to increase the number of women and underrepresented groups in the field.

Alexander Redfern

Alexander Redfern

Infrastructure Planning and Facilities

Alexander Redfern is an operations supervisor for Michigan State University’s Infrastructure Planning and Facilities, or IPF, in the materials and logistics department. The department is responsible for all aspects of directly supporting the campus skilled trades. In addition to the general responsibilities of this position, Redfern is tasked with managing the DEI supplier program for the department, serving on the IPF Supplier Diversity Committee, assigning DEI-related goals to all buying staff and creating diverse spending reports capturing overall expenditures, number of vendors and breakdown of diversity demographics. 

Redfern uses the performance excellence process to measure his team’s development and success in achieving its yearlong educational goal, most notably in the T-shaped competencies of Global Understanding, Empathy and Collaborative Communicator. His employees have taken 113 DEI-related courses and classes such as cultural competencies, implicit bias and understanding pronouns. Additionally, he sets goals for his procurement staff to identify new suppliers that represent underrepresented groups to provide quote opportunities within each new calendar year. Redfern’s use of performance excellence tools for both professional development and diverse spending has become a model for all leaders at IPF. 

Steven Thomas

Steven Thomas

The Graduate School

Steven Thomas is a program manager at the Graduate School and manages diversity recruitment activities and promotes student success, particularly through two programs focused on underrepresented students: the Summer Research Opportunities Program and the Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate, or AGEP. 

Thomas facilitates the collaboration between MSU and minority-serving institutions to develop joint Bachelor of Science and Master of Science programs and recruitment strategies. He is involved in additional undergraduate support programs locally and nationally, including the McNair Scholars Program, Maximizing Access to Research Careers, Gates Millennium Scholars and Meyerhoff Scholars, which allow him to build connections between graduate programs and a diverse community of prospective students. He does work recruiting students from underrepresented populations to graduate programs through recruitment efforts at conferences and fairs across the nation alongside AGEP.

Denise Troutman

Denise Troutman

College of Arts and Letters

Denise Troutman is an associate professor across the departments of writing, rhetoric and American cultures and linguistics, as well as a faculty-affiliate with African American and African studies. She teaches first-year writing and linguistics classes. 

Troutman is the co-founder of Daughters of the Collective, a group that mentors middle-school-aged girls in Lansing to instill in them attributes of confidence, sisterhood, cultural pride, academic excellence, broader worldviews, community ownership and self-awareness. Her research is conducted at the intersection of linguistics and writing. Her published work focuses on voice, dialect, Black English and specifically on politeness norms and conventions. 

Children and Youth Institute's LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Team

Children and Youth Institute’s

LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Team MSU Extension

MSU Extension’s Children and Youth Institute’s, or CYI, LGBTQIA+ Advocacy Team was formed in the spring of 2020 after CYI held a series of listening sessions to hear from community partners, 4-H families and volunteers about needs and concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 17-person team has helped make CYI and MSU Extension values prominent by creating new professional development opportunities for colleagues, including the Helping with Rainbow Hands Club (a new statewide 4-H program), new partnerships within and outside of MSU and a more affirming and brave space for our youth, volunteers and staff who are in the LGBTQIA+ community.

The members of the team include: Tonya Pell, 4-H program coordinator; Brian Wibby, extension educator; Anna EldenBrady, grant technical support; Melissa Elischer, extension educator; Rachel Puckett, 4-H STEAM corps program manager; Jackie Martin, extension educator; Darren Bagley, extension educator; Aaron Myers, 4-H program coordinator; Kristy Oosterhouse, 4-H program coordinator; Diane Wisnewski, supervising educator; Carrie Shrier, extension educator; Lisa Kelley, 4-H program coordinator; Kristi Schreiber, 4-H program coordinator; Julie Darnton, district director; Stacie Gath, 4-H program coordinator; and Julia Moll, student intern.

The team planned and facilitated a teach-in around LGBTQIA+ topics and assisted with the implementation of the MSU Extension Guide for Inclusion of Individuals of All Gender Identities, Gender Expressions, Sexual Orientations and Sexes. Additionally, the group established the Michigan 4-H Helping with Rainbow Hands Club, a program centered around creating a friendly, positive environment for Michigan LGBTQIA+ youth and their allies. 

Kellogg Biological Station

W.K. Kellogg Biological Station

Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources and the College of Natural Science

The W.K. Kellogg Biological Station’s Culture and Inclusion Committee, CIC, was formed in 2017 to coordinate resources, training and other opportunities for growth in areas related to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice. The CIC seeks to make diversity, equity, inclusion and social justice central to the station’s culture through research activities, educational programming, outreach efforts, hiring and professional development practices. 

The 2022 CIC members include: Nameer Baker, co-chair and academic specialist; Kyle Jaynes, co-chair and graduate student; Andy Fogiel, operations and safety coordinator; Mir Zaman Hussain, postdoctoral research associate; Sarah Roy, Kellogg Biological Station DEI advocate; Elizabeth Schultheis, academic specialist; Christine Sprunger, faculty; and Jamie Smith, academic staff. 

The Kellogg Biological Station’s vision is to build a community that enhances its integrative research, education and outreach activities and accelerates ongoing efforts to improve its climate of diversity, equity and inclusion. They are focused on diverse hiring in all units and have been successful at recruiting diverse faculty and undergraduate students. The station has created a new staff position in 2022 dedicated to enhancing diversity, equity and inclusion within its academic and research programs. The unit has launched a targeted strategy for advancing equity at its field station, including the implementation of inclusive hiring and admissions practices as well as working at a variety of programmatic levels to create a culture of inclusion.

Lifetime Achievement Award

The Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes long-term, exemplary efforts made during a nominee’s time at Michigan State University toward advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in enduring ways that have enhanced the institution’s policies, work, climate and/or organization.

Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell

Kurt Dewhurst and Marsha MacDowell

College of Arts and Letters, MSU Museum

Kurt Dewhurst is the director emeritus and curator of Folklife and Cultural Heritage for the MSU Museum. He also serves as director for Art and Cultural Partnership and senior fellow of University Outreach and Engagement. Additionally, he is a professor of English and museum studies. 

Marsha MacDowell currently works as the director of The Quilt Index and Michigan Stained Glass Census and curator of Folk Arts and Quilt Studies for the MSU Museum. She also serves as the director of the Michigan Traditional Arts Program. In addition, she is a professor of art history and design.

Dewhurst and MacDowell have explored, celebrated and expanded diversity, equity and inclusion through their work as museum professionals, teachers, mentors, researchers, writers and administrators. They push the boundaries of building museum exhibits and programs, and their careful curatorial and scholarly work has been based on an ethic of collaboration and co-creation with diverse communities. They have aided countless individuals and communities in telling their own stories, projecting and promoting their own cultures and creating safe spaces for extending dialogue and understanding.

Dionardo Pizaña

Dionardo Pizaña

MSU Extension

Dionardo Pizaña is the diversity, equity and inclusion specialist for MSU Extension, where he develops and identifies resources and learning opportunities for staff members, community partners and other interested organizations and agencies across the state. These resources and learning opportunities help inform the organizational commitment to civil rights, equity and inclusion so that these values become incorporated into extension programming and outreach.

Pizaña annually provides ten Multicultural Understanding Workshops to the MSU community. He has led efforts with tribal partners in the state of Michigan and provides support to MSU Extension’s LGBTQ Resource Team and MSU Extension’s Race and Ethnicity Council. Additionally, in his role, he has provided visibility for various keynotes across the country.


By: Brigita Felkers

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