EMU announces fall 2022 Inclusive Excellence Grant awards

Eastern Mennonite University’s Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion announces the recipients of the Inclusive Excellence Grants for fall 2022.

The program offers faculty, staff, and students the opportunity to develop ideas that advance opportunities to grow, learn, and belong together. “Inclusive excellence” is a research-based approach that encourages proactive, collaborative steps towards creating a community in which all belong.

EMU’s Inclusive Excellence Grants program funds 13 new projects this year focused on diversity, equity, and inclusion, including a performance of “The Passion of Martin Luther King Jr.,” in November 2022. (Photo by Derrick Chirinos)

These grants are possible thanks to the generosity of Jose Koshy ‘76 and Jean Koshy-Hertzler ‘79. 

EMU also awards an annual Hertzler-Koshy Faculty Fellowship. Read more about the 2023 fellowship recipients.

“Please join the Office of DEI in congratulating these 13 awardees for bringing our community together through their projects,” said Jackie Font-Guzmán, vice president of diversity, equity, and inclusion. “It is exciting to see these programs grow in number and have an impact in our community.“

Accessibility Within Text

This project funds new elevator signs and adds braille menus for the Royals Den. $1,199

Co-leaders: Cassidy Walker and Christian Knight, students; Kathy Evans, professor of education; Jon Styer, director of creative services.

Anonymous Ensemble

EMU Theatre will bring Anonymous Ensemble, a prominent NYC-based performace company, to campus to present two performances. 

The first is called “Llon Top,” which features the song-poems of Quechua poet and activist Irma Alvarez-Ccoscco, Anonymous Ensemble’s Llontop celebrates indigenous Andean culture and language. The piece is an intricately interactive installation of Peruvian objects and a live film performance for both in-person and virtual audiences followed by a lively conversation with the artists about the work and about Quechua empowerment. 

The second is Quechua Stories, an interactive, multimedia show for young audiences. In this trilingual presentation, celebrated Quechua poet and indigenous language advocate Irma Alvarez-Ccoscco shares several tales from her culture in the Peruvian Andes mountains. These stories are translated live and brought to life by the Brooklyn-based experimental theater company, Anonymous Ensemble, with projections, music, and interactive elements. $1,200

Co-leaders: Justin Poole, Associate Professor and Program Director Theater; Celeste R. Thomas, director, Multicultural Student Services and advisor; Ariel Morales Bonilla, student.

Black History Month Celebration

This project will fund events and convocations during Black History Month, led by Black Student Alliance in coordination with other affinity groups within the EMU as well as the greater Harrisonburg community. One goal is to share that “the Black experience is rich with firsts that the vast majority are not aware of.” $1,200

Co-leaders: Celeste R. Thomas, director, Multicultural Student Services and advisor, Black Student Alliance; Nardos Haile, Nia Boyd, Brii Redfearn, Zavion Taylor, Avrie Shifflett, Rachel Saeli, and Donesha George, students.

Celebracion LatinX

Latino Student Alliance will celebrate and share their heritage with the EMU community with a program highlighting music, education, food, dance, and storytelling with performances by students and LatinX community members. $1,200

Co-leaders: Ariel Morales Bonilla, student; Celeste R. Thomas, director, Multicultural Student Services.

Circles in the Box

This project provides a container for campus conversations and dialogue related to topics and experiences of justice/injustice, equity, inclusion based in the reality that EMU is a diverse community. The project will build community, create/enhance connections across differences, and provide space for us all to practice dialogue. $1,200

Project co-leaders: Sabrina Bellar, Jessica Chisolm, and Reah Clymer, students.

Enhancing Religious Literacy 

This project will address interfaith engagement as an integral part of EMU’s work towards greater equity and diversity, actively dismantling oppression in our institution in order to build a multi-faith community grounded in justice and radical inclusion. Creating a religious and cultural holidays calendar page(s) on EMU’s website will be a repository to increase religious and cultural literacy on campus. The calendar will host first-person narratives from multi-faith students, faculty, and staff, and brief informational write-ups on the featured holidays. The information will assist faculty and staff about potential student accommodations for holidays, and build a sense of community on campus around shared experiences, values, rituals and traditions. $1,200

Project co-leaders: Trina Trotter Nussbaum,  associate director, Center for Interfaith Engagement; Brian Martin Burkholder,  university chaplain, Office of Faith and Spiritual Life.

Improving Health in Sexual Minority Students

Sexual health intersects with many dimensions of health and wellness. Some sexual minority populations are more susceptible to experiencing stigma, which contributes to increased risky behaviors and underutilization of sexually transmitted infection (STI) health care services. The aim of this program is to improve access to and utilization of STI testing for EMU students. $1,200

Project co-leaders: Catherine Rittenhouse, professor of nursing; Sarah Moore, Natalie Brown, Will Blosser and Ashley Mellinger, student.

Interfaith Chaplain

This project addresses a growing number of students who are immigrants to the US, particularly within communities at the Intensive English Program, Center for Justice and Peacebuilding, and International Students Organization. Many of these students have the added challenge of growing accustomed to a radically different culture, the challenge of isolation from distant family, and/or the challenge of being from a non-Christian religion who find themselves in a deeply Christian context. This program aims to pilot availability of an interfaith chaplain for conversation and one-on-one prayer, to facilitate shared prayer/worship settings with accessible language, consult with local clergy of multiple religious traditions, and plan events that will foster spiritually enriching community. $1,111.11

Project co-leaders: Melissa May, instructor, Intensive English Program; Micah Shristi, International Student Services; Brian Burkholder, University Chaplain; Merlyna Bernal, student.

People’s Party

Black Student Alliance, Latino Student Alliance and the Asian Pacific Island Alliance plan to host a “People’s Party,” bringing the three groups together to celebrate their cultures with food, music, and fellowship. $1,200

Co-leaders: Ariel Morales Bonilla and Nardos Haile, students; Celeste R. Thomas, director, Multicultural Student Services.

Student Sustainability Summit Keynote

EMU will host a keynote speaker who highlights the intersectionality of sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion during the Student Sustainability Summit April 1, 2023. The summit connects students from EMU, JMU, Mary Baldwin University, Blue Ridge Community College, and Bridgewater College around issues of sustainability, environmental justice, and food justice. Having a keynote speaker who emphasizes these intersections will lead to a greater community understanding of sustainability and its connection with justice. $1,200

Co-leaders: Jim Yoder, program director for biology, chemistry and environmental science; Olivia Hazelton, Mana Acosta, Micah Buckwalter, Ally Welty Peachy and Zach Bauman, students.

The Passion of Martin Luther King Jr.’

This project supported the performance of a seldom-performed masterwork “The Passion of Martin Luther King, Jr.” by Nicholas Flagello. Read more and watch here. This work combines the forces of the EMU Orchestra and EMU University Choir, plus an African American soloist who sings direct texts from King’s speeches. $1,107.01

Co-leaders: Benjamin Bergey, assistant professor of music; David Berry, associate professor of music.

Weight Room Education and Upgrades 

This collaborative project between the Intro to the Weight Room Program and EMU Residence Life will encourage more people to use the weight room. New equipment and welcoming signs will signal that this is a safe place to come and interact with others. $1,181.20

Co-leaders: Jason Dwyer, Hunter Sturgeon, and Garrett Nyce, students; Tim Jones, Residence Life.

Women in Sports

This project supports EMU’s Women in Sports event while creating more opportunities to celebrate, educate, and empower our female athletes. The events will create awareness and support for women’s athletics programs, give female athletes a sense of belonging, and create a culture that takes pride in women in sport at EMU and in our community. $1,200.00

Co-leaders: Ashley Kishorn, head coach, field hockey; Carrie Bert, director of athletics.