This release is courtesy of Springfield College Sports Information.
Indianapolis, Ind. - January 15, 2019 - Springfield College earned honorable mention recognition for the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association's 2019 Award for Diversity and Inclusion, the national offices recently announced.
The award is a partnership between the two organizations to recognize and celebrate the practices, programs and policies of NCAA colleges, universities and athletics conference offices that embrace diversity and inclusion. Schools have been recognized for their professional development programs that help educate staff and student-athletes about inclusive practices; community outreach as it relates to diversity; and efforts that enhance opportunities for people of diverse cultures, backgrounds and experiences. This year, the University of Wisconsin-River Falls athletics department was named the winner of the award, while Springfield College, Oklahoma State, and the America East Conference garnered honorable mention status.
"I'm very proud of the initiatives we as an institution have taken to create a more inclusive climate on campus," said Springfield College Director of Athletics, Dr. Craig Poisson. "The work that we continue to do, whether it is our Sports and Social Justice Symposium, or through collaborative efforts within our campus, is driven by Springfield College's Humanics philosophy; our mission of providing leadership in service to others."
A key program at Springfield College which is designed to highlight athletics and its contribution to social justice has been the Annual Sports and Social Justice Symposium, which kicks off Athletics Hall of Fame Induction weekend. Over the last three years, topics for the symposium have included Disability and Sport, Gender and Sport, and Spirituality and Sport, and is a collaborative effort between the Athletics Department, the Office of the Vice President of Inclusion and Community Engagement, the Communication/Sports Journalism Department, and the Development Office. In April of 2018, Bilqis Abdul-Qaadir, the first Muslim woman to play covered in NCAA history, returned to her hometown of Springfield to speak to the Springfield College campus community about her journey. Following her presentation, Springfield hosted a "Record Breakers Clinic", which was designed for middle school girls in the City of Springfield, and run by Abdul-Qaadir and current Springfield College basketball coach, Naomi Graves, who had previously held the Massachusetts high school scoring record before it was later broken by Rebecca Lobo and Abdul-Qaadir.
Under the direction of Dr. Calvin Hill, Springfield College's Vice President of Inclusion and Community Engagement, the college has launched its first comprehensive diversity and inclusion plan which developed priorities, strategies, and initiatives designed to have diversity and inclusion seen as a value added priority for the college. The areas of focus of the plan include recruitment and retention of ALANA (African, Latin(x), Asian, and Native American) students, faculty and staff, insure that the campus is accessible, enhance all students diversity related education experiences, and develop and support a campus climate that values all community members.
"I am delighted that the Division of Inclusion and Community Engagement, and our work with our campus partners to build a more inclusive and welcoming campus community, played a role in the college's recognition with the NCAA and its Minority Opportunities Athletic Association's 2019 Award for Diversity and Inclusion," said Hill. "We look forward to our continued partnership with athletics in offering programs that allow us to gain a deeper appreciation of our shared humanity."