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NCAA to Honor Northern Illinois University for Diversity, Inclusion Efforts

Sean T. Frazier, NIU associate vice president and director of athletics, says that “diversity requires a top-down leadership approach.”Sean T. Frazier, NIU associate vice president and director of athletics, says that “diversity requires a top-down leadership approach.”

The Northern Illinois University athletics department has been named the winner of the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association’s 2016 Award for Diversity and Inclusion for its supportive initiatives, policies and practices.

A group consisting of individuals from the MOAA membership, the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics, and the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee selected the winner, as well as honorable mention recipients the University of Kansas and University of California, San Diego. NIU President Doug Baker and Sean T. Frazier, associate vice-president and director of athletics, will accept the honor at the NCAA Convention in San Antonio in January.

NIU was cited for its campus programs and partnerships in the DeKalb, Illinois, community. The athletics department recently revised its vision statement and strategic plan to reflect a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion.

“We are absolutely humbled by this recognition and firmly believe that diversity and inclusion is not a sometime thing, but rather an all-the-time thing,” said Frazier, who co-chaired a task force that recommended the hiring of the university’s first chief diversity officer and hired personnel within the athletics department to monitor diversity, inclusion and equity efforts. “Diversity requires a top-down leadership approach rooted in bringing campus and community constituents together to promote civility, accountability and the creation of a shared agenda.”

Among other strategic efforts, the NIU athletics department also provides its staff and campus administrators with professional development opportunities that include training seminars on Title IX and diversity and inclusion topics, hosts webinars that cover gender and sexuality topics, and offers programming to increase graduation rates.

“NIU is a role model for other institutions as it has created programs and initiatives that have helped bridge gaps at the university and in the community,” said Bernard Franklin, NCAA executive vice president of education and community engagement and chief inclusion officer. “NIU Athletics has placed more awareness on the importance of inclusion within its own department too, and those efforts will enable their student-athletes and administrators to maneuver more effectively and strategically on campus and in our diverse society.”

MOAA, administered by the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics, advocates for equitable employment opportunities for minorities in the athletics industry. It encourages the exchange of ideas, the creation of networking opportunities and the avocation of an increase in employment for minorities in athletics administration positions at all levels of the sports industry.

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