Wayne State University President M. Roy Wilson has been given the 2016 Giving Back award by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine for his work to propel underrepresented students toward science careers and increase the diversity of WSU’s campus, among other initiatives.
Wilson will be featured, along with 26 other recipients, in the April 2016 Leadership Support and Giving Back issue ofINSIGHT Into Diversity, the largest and oldest diversity and inclusion publication in higher education. The award honors presidents and chancellors of colleges and universities who go above and beyond their everyday leadership duties and give back to their campuses and communities.
“I am honored and humbled to receive this recognition,” said Wilson, who became Wayne State’s 12th president in August 2013. “Diversity is so important in the higher education environment. Ultimately, diversity makes for a much better educational experience of our students. It’s very important to have different perspectives and ways of thinking incorporated in the everyday life of a student. That’s how they learn. That’s how the world is.”
Giving Back award recipients are nominated by a colleague and selected by INSIGHT Into Diversity based on their outstanding demonstration of social responsibility, a commitment to charitable services, and involvement with students, faculty and staff to serve underrepresented populations. Each honoree is recognized for his or her passion, dedication and philanthropic achievements.
“The Giving Back award is being given to leaders of institutions of higher education who exemplify what it truly means to ‘give back’ to others,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher ofINSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “These presidents and chancellors are role models, and we honor their efforts to give back to everyone on their campuses and in their communities.”
Among Wilson’s accomplishments, he developed a strategy to improve the pipeline of underrepresented students toward science careers. As part of this, he formed a coalition in 2015 of Detroit-based universities and colleges to launch the National Institutes of Health-funded Building Infrastructure Leading to Diversity (BUILD) program at WSU.
As part of a plan to increase the diversity of Wayne State’s campus, Wilson created in 2014 the position of Associate Provost for Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer. He also insisted that the newly-created diversity officer be elevated to a cabinet-level appointment to emphasize its importance and centrality to the university’s core leadership.
In addition, Wilson created the Office of Multicultural Student Engagement to provide an inclusive environment and promote awareness initiatives that encourage academic success for underrepresented minorities and historically marginalized students.
“Diversity tends to be about numbers: How many students, faculty of this or that background do you have?” Wilson said. “But inclusion is really a broader concept that asks if they feel welcome and part of the community. You can have diversity and not have an inclusive environment. And that is not a desirable outcome. As an institution, we must care about and always strive for both diversity and inclusion.”