KOKOMO, Ind. — Now more than ever, promoting and encouraging diversity is critical work.
“The environment has become so polarized, people aren’t willing to extend the olive branch to learn from each other,” said Rosalyn Davis, clinical associate professor of psychology at Indiana University Kokomo.
“When we’re not willing to have a conversation, we make a lot of bad decisions based on limited information.”
Davis’s actions to create a more diverse, inclusive environment led to her selection as one of the first recipients of the Luminary Award, given by the IU Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs (OVPDEMA).
She was flattered to be recognized for her efforts.
“I try to make each environment I’m in a little better,” Davis said, adding that she grew up in military communities, where people from different backgrounds lived and interacted together.
“It wasn’t until my dad left the military that I realized the world isn’t like that,” she said. “It makes me sad that people don’t talk to each other the same way and lose the opportunity to learn from one another. There’s so much we have in common, and people don’t pay attention to it.”
She also wants to encourage others to promote diversity, in large and small ways.
“The biggest thing I want people to know is, I love what I do, but everybody can do it,” she said. “You don’t have to do big things. You can do something as small as being nice to your neighbor and asking about their day or understanding why Juneteenth shouldn’t be commodified. The little things add up way more than they think they do.”
Sarah Heath, associate professor of history, was one of Davis’s nominators, along with Selene Carter, faculty fellow in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, College of Arts and Sciences, Bloomington.
“I could not be happier for or prouder of the great work she has done here,” said Heath, noting that Davis works with people throughout the IU system, helps with recruitment of diverse faculty, and engages in extensive programming on campus.
“Rosalyn is a rock of support for our diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts at IU Kokomo,” Heath said. “The programming we do on campus, efforts with hiring, and support for people with concerns could not be addressed without her constant focus on this campus.”
Sarah Sarber, chief of staff and chief diversity officer, also offered congratulations.
“Dr. Davis is so deserving of this recognition,” Sarber said. “She has done so much to move the work of DEI forward at IU Kokomo.”
Among Davis’s accomplishments, she has led safe space training for faculty and staff, and faculty diversity training on a variety of topics. She also mentors minority students, attends minority recruitment conferences to speak to potential faculty and students, moderated the first of a town hall series of community conversations about issues of race and racism in the United States, and participated in development of the Multicultural Center.
She’s also director of the Master of Arts in Mental Health Counseling program and has conducted research in minority relationships. She’s currently co-writing a book about black women’s success in the United States.
Davis was among five recipients of the Luminary Awards, given at a recent OVPDEMA retreat. Additional honorees included Karina Garduno, assistant director of multicultural programming, IUPUI; Maqube Reese, associate director of diversity initiatives, Kelley School of Business, Bloomington; Dr. Alvaro J. Tori, associate dean for diversity affairs, IU School of Medicine; and Samuel R. Young II, associate director of the Groups Scholars program.