By Jon Platt
Professors from Baylor’s journalism, public relations and new media department received awards for their efforts to increase diversity at a meeting Wednesday.
Dr. Mia Moody-Ramirez, associate professor of journalism, was appointed chair of Baylor’s journalism diversity committee last year and distributed the awards. She said she has a grand vision for the committee and looks forward to developing equality and diversity with her coworkers.
“We’ve always had the diversity committee,” Moody-Ramirez said. “But, unfortunately, it’s been dormant for years and now we’re ramping things up. I’m excited about it.”
The journalism, public relations and new media department’s focus on diversity is reflected in its new vision statement. Moody-Ramirez said the department is the first at Baylor to adopt such a diverse statement, which reads as follows:
“The Baylor Department of Journalism, PR and New Media is committed to a policy of inclusiveness, understanding and acceptance regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, gender and age.”
Moody-Ramirez said ensuring acceptance and diversity can’t just be about looking at skin color.
“It’s comprehensive,” she said. “It’s the curriculum. It’s the speakers. It’s even the textbooks.”
She highlighted faculty and staff who have contributed to advancing acceptance in the department and said achieving equality is only possible if everyone works together.
Dr. Cassy Burleson, senior lecturer of journalism, received an award for regularly bringing in a number of diverse speakers to her classes.
“Dr. B asked me to take photos of a speaker in her class one time,” Moody-Ramirez said. “And then she asked me again and again. I was amazed. I think that’s amazing, the speakers she has. And what’s great is she does that naturally.”
Burleson and Moody-Ramirez have an educational partnership that reaches back to their years as graduate students. When Moody-Ramirez presented the award to Burleson while speaking of her work ethic and championing of diversity, tears formed in the corners of their eyes.
“We’ve walked a lot of miles together,” Burleson said.
Also receiving an award was Robert Darden, associate professor of journalism, whose work with the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project has garnered national attention. In October, Darden will release a book that was inspiried by the project titled, “Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, Volume 1.”
Jan Loosier and Margaret Kramer, administrative assistants to the journalism, public relations and new media department, received awards for their work as well. Loosier’s award was for her efforts in morale boosting. Kramer’s award was for consistently sharing relevant and cutting-edge information about diversity.
“Our focus is not only on professors, but on staff and students, too,” Moody-Ramirez said.
Moody-Ramirez said all this progress is possible because of Dr. Sara Stone, department chair of Baylor journalism, public relations and new media. Moody-Ramirez said Stone’s time as chair has developed the department in substantial ways.
Stone said her goal is to have a diverse group of people working in the department who complement each other because of the different experiences they’ve had.
She also said she is excited about the involvement students are getting within the community through their courses. Stone calculated the number of community service hours students provide for the community to be in the thousands per semester. She said these hours provide students a unique experience to interact with people who might be like them but also to have diverse experiences.
“I’m most proud of a concerted effort between faculty and students to learn how to do things,” Stone said. “They’re involved in the community.”
For a complete list of award recipients, go to baylorlariat.com.