Farmer School professor, FSB program named Miami University 2021 Diversity and Inclusion Award winners

Michelle Thomas and Gillian Oakenfull

Michelle Thomas and Gillian Oakenfull

A pair of Miami University awards announced this week showcase diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts at the Farmer School of Business.

Marketing professor Gillian Oakenfull received the 2021 Miami University Diversity and Inclusion Institutional Excellence Award, given to an individual whose leadership has led to or impacted a policy shift, innovation programming, or demonstrated opportunities for the Miami community to engage in diversity and inclusion activities directly on campus.

Oakenfull is director of the Center for KickGlass Change, which works to increase cultural intelligence, create agents of social change, and advance under-represented talent to leadership. She is also the creator of Beyond Ready CQ, a program designed to provide students with a unified strategy and skill set for how to relate and work across cultural differences at home and abroad.

“Rather than consider the award an affirmation of what we’ve already done, I’d like to think of it as a commitment to continuing the work ahead -- to ensure all of our students are beyond ready to succeed in increasingly diverse workplaces and marketplaces. We will continue the work to embrace difference as a catalyst for enhanced innovation, problem-solving, and decision-making,” Oakenfull said. “There is much work to be done but this award fuels the effort, along with institutional support through Boldly Creative 4 funding to establish the new Center for KickGlass Change and the M.I.A.M.I Women’s Giving Circle’s grant to support student, faculty and staff cultural intelligence skills training. I’m extremely appreciative of the Council on Diversity and Inclusion’s recognition of our work and of Miami University’s support for our future plans.”

“I’m especially pleased to receive this award when the Farmer School of Business Student Organizations and Diversity program was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award,” Oakenfull noted. “It symbolizes the scope, collaboration and cohesion that is vital to creating pragmatic initiatives that have a measurable impact on diversify, equity and inclusion objectives.”

The Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Service Award recognizes the creative and academic contributions of a unit steeped in a consistent record of service that has highlighted or supported diversity and inclusion or directly shaped and positively affected the meaning and understanding of diversity and inclusion on campus.

"Awards like this are truly a team effort. It's no secret that our student organization leaders work very hard to make sure we build a culture of community and belonging. I am so proud of them and my FSB partners and colleagues,” director Michelle Thomas remarked. “I'm also very proud of the Multicultural Business Association (MBA) and the Business Student Advisory Council (BSAC). They have partnered on a number of student town hall discussions that have fostered dialogue and real talk by unpacking difficult and important topics.”

“FSB student leaders are an inspiration and an example for all us to emulate! No one does this work alone, and I'm truly honored to be in this role,” she said.

Farmer School Dean Jenny Darroch noted, “I am so pleased by this recognition of two outstanding individuals who devote tremendous time and energy to ensuring that the Farmer School is moving the needle on D.E & I. I hear time and time again that what we are doing here in the DE&I space is indeed innovative. We have more work we want to do but for now I would like to pause and celebrate our successes and the leadership of Michelle and Gillian to advance our work in DE&I.”