LSU AgCenter Recognizes Faculty For Contributions to Diversity

Vallerie A. Maurice, Merrill, Thomas A.  |  4/28/2005 7:55:35 PM

News Release Distributed 02/01/01

The LSU AgCenter last week recognized four members of its statewide faculty for outstanding contributions to its diversity initiative.

"We are proud to recognize and reward these people for helping us to achieve our vision of a more diverse faculty and serving more diverse clientele," said LSU AgCenter Chancellor William B. "Bill" Richardson. "We know that through such efforts we truly can achieve our mission of serving all the people of Louisiana with the best research and educational programs."

The awards, which were presented Jan. 26 in Baton Rouge, recognized individuals for leadership in the area of diversity, contributions to diversity in the workplace, diversity in programming and research and overall excellence in the diversity initiative.

Those recognized with awards were Denyse Cummins, a horticulturist with the AgCenter assigned to Lafayette Parish; Beth Gambel, urban administrator for the LSU AgCenter's extension programs in Orleans Parish; Tom Merrill, an LSU AgCenter communications specialist in Baton Rouge; and Dr. David Morrison, assistant director for the LSU AgCenter's research branch, who also is based in Baton Rouge.

Cummins received the LSU AgCenter Diversity in Programming/Research Award, which recognizes outreach and research efforts targeted to under-served or new audiences, as well as the ability to create new programs and services based on the specific needs of such audiences. Cummins was cited for educational efforts on horticulture with clients ranging from residents of urban housing projects in Lafayette to farmers in war-torn El Salvador.

The LSU AgCenter Diversity in the Workplace Award went to Gambel to acknowledge her efforts at recruitment, hiring and retention of a diverse work force. Among her many accomplishments, Gambel was credited with collaborative efforts that helped her to assemble a staff that reflects the diversity of the population they serve in Orleans Parish.

Merrill received the LSU AgCenter Diversity Initiative Award for Excellence, which honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding personal growth, has shown commitment and dedication to the inclusion of all people in the AgCenter and exemplifies the AgCenter's desire to assist in providing all employees with the tools necessary to reach their full potential. In addition to his duties as a news editor and communications specialist, Merrill is a charter member of the LSU AgCenter's Diversity Council, a senior trainer in its diversity education for employees and co-chair of its Community Outreach Action Group.

The LSU AgCenter Chancellor's Award for Diversity was presented to Morrison in recognition of his strong leadership in the area of diversity throughout the organization. Morrison was cited for being able to interest a number of faculty members, who might not have become involved without contact from him, in the AgCenter's diversity initiative.

"We think we are making great strides in the area of diversity during the past couple of years, but we couldn't have come this far without the dedication of a lot of people like these award winners," said Vallerie Maurice, the LSU AgCenter's director of multicultural diversity. "It's a pleasure to be able to recognize them for their efforts, and I look forward to assistance from them - and the many more people who are contributing to our overall goals - as we further our efforts to reach more diverse audiences with more diverse programs offered by a more diverse staff."


Contact: Vallerie Maurice at (225) 578-4163 or
Writer: Tom Merrill at (225) 578-2263 or

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