Columbus community members braved frigid temperatures on January 21, 2019 to attend a celebration of the life and lasting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Columbus Learning Center Lecture Hall. Presented by the IUPUC Diversity Council, the event featured a keynote address from Carolyn Butler-Lee, Executive Director of Corporate Human Resources at Cummins, along with the presentation of IUPUC’s 2019 Excellence in Diversity Awards.
Butler-Lee spoke to the theme for this year’s event, Equity and Economic Opportunity in South Central Indiana, by outlining the differences between equality and equity, and challenging the audience to consider their own biases and assumptions about others, and to make an effort to learn about someone who is not in their “normal” circles.
Following Butler-Lee’s address, Dr. Reinhold Hill, Vice Chancellor and Dean at IUPUC, presented Excellence in Diversity Awards to two local organizations. The annual award was created in 2010 by the IUPUC Diversity Council to recognize both an internal and external individual, organization, group, unit, project, or institution that meets a defined set of criteria.
This year’s internal recipient is the Latino-American Organization of Volunteers in Education (LOVE), which was recognized for its many contributions toward motivating members of the Hispanic/Latino community to achieve and continue higher education, and to attract, welcome, and involve students from multiple ethnic backgrounds.
“In addition to educating the community about the Hispanic/Latino culture and customs, LOVE has demonstrated innovative and inclusive programming with a focus on service to both the campus and community,” said Dr. Hill.
After originally being founded in mid-2000s, LOVE became reconstituted in 2012 and students from IUPUC, Ivy Tech Community College Columbus, Purdue Polytechnic Columbus, Columbus East High School, and Columbus North High School are now actively involved as members.
The Campus Presidents of LOVE, Jose Loyo, Alvaro Garcia, and Yamileth Martinez accepted the award on behalf of the organization. “We are honored the work of our student organization can be associated with the work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. We believe that the principles of justice, diversity, opportunity, non-discrimination and inclusiveness found in Dr. King’s work inspire LOVE and many other people.”
This year’s external award was presented to Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County, for its Welcoming Community Initiative. Conceived in 2000 to nurture a diverse environment where all people feel welcome, it has continued to grow and expand for nearly two decades. Through feedback from surveys conducted in 2004 and 2011, the Welcoming Community Initiative has created and implemented a number of strategies, coalitions, alliances, forums and councils focused on opening Columbus to the world through opening Columbus to diversity.
“The Heritage Fund is very honored to receive IUPUC’s Excellence in Diversity Award for our Welcoming Community Initiative,” said Tracy Souza, President and CEO, Heritage Fund, the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. “Heritage Fund started the Welcoming Community work in 2004 and we look forward to releasing the results of our third survey soon. It is critical that the community continue to work on all the ways we can be more welcoming and inclusive – so everyone can feel safe, respected and included in our community.”
Dr. Hill couldn’t agree more. “The expression of and appreciation for diversity in Columbus has never been stronger, and thanks to the Heritage Fund Welcoming Community Initiative, we, together as a community, understand that attention to what makes Columbus a welcoming place must continue to be dynamic.”
The formal program was followed by lunch in the student commons, giving the community in attendance an opportunity to gather together to share a meal and discuss the lasting legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.