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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

English Professor Alison Reed Earns John R. Broderick Diversity Champion Award

By Joe Garvey

Alison Reed, an assistant professor of English at Old Dominion University, was named the spring 2021 winner of the John R. Broderick Diversity Champion Award during a recent virtual ceremony, which was hosted by Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

Reed was one of 10 nominees for the annual award, which honors individuals who advance equity and diversity to promote the positive impact diversity has on the University community.

"The Diversity Champion Award winners embrace principles we seek to recognize: learning and working to effect change in the community, leading and teaching practices that incorporate social justice frameworks, while incorporating lived and learned experiences and mutual respect," President John R. Broderick said.

Reed was nominated for the award by Bruce Craft, an English instructor at Southeastern Louisiana University. He is a student of Reed's who is working on his Ph.D. in English at ODU.

"Dr. Reed's passion for the value and worth of all persons - regardless of color, creed, religion, ethnicity or background - shines in her teaching and in her university and community service," Craft wrote in his letter nominating her for the award.

Reed, who joined ODU in 2015, co-founded and directs Humanities Behind Bars, a partnership among members of the ODU community - including faculty and students - and people incarcerated across Virginia.

Craft wrote that the program encourages ethical principles in teaching and learning to promote the ideals the award exemplifies, including:

  • Centering learning around people's agency or will to effect change in their own lives, the lives of others and their communities.
  • Improvisation and self-determined action.
  • Being flexible with teaching.
  • Letting students express their needs in classroom culture and content planning.
  • Cultivation of critical discourse and student self-empowerment.
  • Developing teaching practices that incorporate justice frameworks, social action and lived experiences.
  • Fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect and reciprocal learning.

"Dr. Reed's program values all persons and recognizes the ability of all persons - regardless of their current circumstances - to contribute to the community discourse in a positive way," Craft wrote.

Reed also co-edited "Antiracism Inc.: Why The Way We Talk About Racial Justice Matters" (Punctum Books, 2019). Her research on performance, identity, power and social movements has been published in a number of publications, including "Prison Pedagogies: Learning and Teaching with Imprisoned Writers" (Syracuse, 2018); "Abolition: A Journal of Insurgent Politics"; "No Tea, No Shade: New Writings in Black Queer Studies" (Duke, 2016), and "Lateral: The Journal of the Cultural Studies Association." In addition to a book under contract, "Love and Abolition: The Social Life of Black Queer Performance" (Ohio State University Press), she is working on a collection of her Pushcart-nominated poetry, portions of which have appeared or are forthcoming in "Cimarron Review," "Hot Metal Bridge," "CutBank;" " Ocho: A Journal of Queer Arts," "Matter" and other publications.

Other 2021 spring Diversity Champions are:

  • James Morrow, assistant professor of dance
  • Brittney Harris, assistant professor of theater
  • Anil Nair, professor and chair of the Department of Management
  • Danielle "Dani" Carter, student
  • Denise Thillet, director of student outreach and support
  • Kristi Costello, associate chair of writing studies
  • Mary Beth Pennington, senior lecturer and director of writing support
  • Ronald Moses, associate athletic director
  • Justin Shreve, assistant director of the Office of Residence Life

"We are recognizing people who are distinguished as diversity giants; they were nominated by their colleagues because of their commitment to educating, promoting and bringing awareness to the importance of maintaining diversity across the City of Norfolk, Hampton Roads and ODU," said Veleka Gatling, director of diversity initiatives at ODU. "They hold key leadership positions in programs all over campus; they serve as mentors, innovators, problem-solvers, thought leaders and true champions for diversity."

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