Clark University is pleased to award the inaugural President’s Achievement Awards for Inclusive Excellence (PAAIE), which recognize individuals, units, or programs for their exemplary contributions to advancing equity, inclusion, and diversity at Clark or in the Worcester community.
To continue to foster a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community, each award includes a $1,500 gift for the awardee to designate toward a Clark program or department that aligns with their work. The awardees were selected from a competitive pool of nominations submitted by faculty, staff, and students across the campus community.
Receiving the awards this year are Asha Best, assistant professor of geography; Hayley Haywood ’09, director of Multicultural and First Generation Student Support (MFGSS); Eunice Diama Dollete ’21, a member of the Clark Undergraduate Student Council Executive Board; and the founders and leaders of the Clark Athletics Inclusion Coalition.
“I am proud to honor the recipients of this award and their remarkable work to advance inclusive excellence at Clark,” President David Angel said. “Their efforts serve as examples of scholarship and leadership in service to a more inclusive and equitable community. It is our institutional mission to recognize and sustain this work.”
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Best was nominated in recognition of her contribution to the University’s institutional diversity and inclusion through her scholarship, teaching, and service. During her first year at Clark (2017–18), she became the first geography professor to teach a course that fulfilled the diversity and inclusion requirement for undergraduates; all of her upper-level courses now fulfill the requirement. In addition to her work at Clark, Best contributed to the formation of the Black Geographies Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers.
Along with the President’s Achievement Award, Best was honored with the Distinguished Inclusive Excellence Award, which includes a $1,000 prize.
“I am humbled by the recognition and glad to be able to contribute to ongoing dialogues around inclusive excellence at Clark,” Best said.
Haywood’s nomination recognized not only her leadership of the MFGSS office, but also the ACE (Advancing Clark Excellence) Summer Institute, a pre-orientation program for first-generation college students and students of color, which has had a direct impact on student retention. Haywood is herself an alumna of the ACE Institute.
“Working as a champion of equity is not just a privilege I hold dear, it’s a responsibility,” Haywood said. “I hope my work inspires others to take action that centers justice, community, self reflection, and continued learning.”
Dollete was nominated for the PAAIE by fellow students, who described Dollete as “an individual that wholly embodies the words justice, perseverance, and courage” and “a key part of the inclusive progress that Clark has made over the last few years.”
“It is incredibly humbling to be recognized by the Clark community with this award,” Dollete said. “I am grateful for the mentorship and guidance I have received from the MFGSS and Diversity and Inclusion offices throughout my time at Clark, as well as the persistence of student activists and organizations in striving to make Clark a community where people’s sense of belonging is valued.”
The final award went to the founders and leaders of the Clark Athletics Inclusion Coalition (CAIC) — Dani Black ’21, MiKayla Dotson ’23, Biko Gayman ’21, Inonge Kaloustian ’21, Josh Podolsky ’21, and Ahiela Watson ’21. The nomination noted that the new student-run organization is “inspiring meaningful change that will not only foster a more inclusive environment, but hopefully help Clark recruit and retain more students of diverse backgrounds who can impact our community.”
“CAIC has given me and my counterparts the opportunity to discuss and promote areas of diversity and inclusion within Clark Athletics,” Dotson said.
“Having the courage to speak up and to learn means that I can support others to do the same,” Black explained, “and to not let fear or discomfort prevent them from expressing what a lot of other people are experiencing as well.”
“I hope that CAIC becomes an entity within Clark Athletics that will promote united and inclusive collaborations with student-athletes of diverse identities,” Watson said. Podosky added, “Many little steps can create big leaps, and I’m proud to be a part of a group taking those steps.”
“Just recognizing how much of an impact we have created in our community by becoming allies to groups that are underrepresented is the ‘why’ to what we do,” Gayman said.
And Kaloustian, who co-founded the CAIC with Watson, added, “While diversity is amazing, inclusivity is necessary. To be able to share that with the Clark community has been a dream come true.”
Sheree Ohen, chief officer of diversity and inclusion, said she believes the President’s Achievement Awards will be a mechanism to highlight the spirit of what it means to be a Clarkie for social change. “Through PAAIE, we will continue to make visible, and contribute resources to, members of our community that are part of this legacy, Ohen said.