Chonika Coleman-King, assistant professor of Teachers, Schools and Society, and Travis Smith, clinical assistant professor in the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education, are recipients of the 2020-2021 College of Education Faculty Diversity and Inclusion award. The award is presented by the Faculty Policy Council (FPC), the college’s policy-making council, to faculty members who exemplify their commitment to continue to promote actionable change in the area of diversity and inclusion.

 “The COE FPC D&I committee is committed to fostering awareness of, building capacity for and moving toward action with and for individuals and communities who have been and currently are minoritized and marginalized by individual and institutional power structures and systems of oppression,” said Gage Jeter, clinical assistant professor and 2020-2021 FPC Diversity and Inclusion committee chair. 

Coleman-King’s research focuses on preparing teachers to instruct with a focus on social justice in schools predominantly for disadvantaged children as well as students of color. She wrote five publications connected to diversity and inclusion in 2020 and was the first author on four. She currently has other publications in-press. 

“Diversity and inclusion stand as the cornerstone of much of my personal and professional work,” she said. “I feel honored to do work that matters to the most vulnerable among us.”

On top of that, Coleman-King has received four funded grants related to diversity and inclusion and gives her service to national and international D&I organizations.

“Her contributions allow us to continue to develop better ideas, to think intentionally about how we mentor, support, and respond to the needs of our students and the creation of a university community that ensures that we are progressing forward in the support and efforts for all people,” said Taryrn Brown, clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning. 

Smith’s research agenda revolves around Black student involvement, Black education and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. He wrote two publications in 2020, has three others currently in-press and one in review – all are connected to D&I – he is the first author on three of the six. He also delivered six conference presentations and professional development experiences in 2020-2021, has one funded grant related to D&I and gives his service to national and international D&I organizations.

Chonika Coleman-King

Chonika Coleman-King

Travis Smith

“I do this work because it’s a life calling, and I want to leave the world a better place for my son and future generations,” he said. 

Colleagues of Smith have also spoken up to praise his work to help Black graduate students thrive mentally, emotionally and academically. 

One of these colleagues, Lane Washington, an affiliated faculty in the college’s Student Personnel in Higher Education program, said, “There are few faculty, staff or administrators who have had such an incredible impact on the professional and academic development of graduate students as has Dr. Smith in such a short time.” 

The COE FPC D&I committee chairman stated that both have gone above and beyond their required responsibilities in their respective tenure-track and clinical roles.

 He believes that both Coleman-King and Smith’s work exemplifies this commitment and will “leave a lasting legacy in and beyond the college.”