Associate Dean of the College of Education and Human Development and Professor of Multicultural Education Eleni Oikonomidoy was given the 2020 Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Leadership award during the University of Nevada, Reno’s Honor the Best ceremony on September 2.
The award was created in 2017 to recognize individuals who advance the values of diversity, equity and inclusion throughout the University. According to her nomination, Oikonomidoy demonstrated both knowledge and passion for these values throughout her work at the University.
“I think receiving an award is always a humbling event,” Oikonomidoy said. “It is a good recognition of your work, but it always makes you think, whether you deserve this award or somebody else deserved it more…. I would share it with all my students, graduate and undergraduates, because I think none of this work, that is the work in equity, diversity and inclusion, is an individual's work.”
Oikonomidoy’s recent research includes a study on underrepresented groups of students that has been presented in national and international conferences and has yielded a collaborative publication. She teaches both graduate and undergraduate classes and is involved with the diversity taskforce at the University and the diversity committee in the College of Education and Human Development.
“This is what my area of expertise is,” Oikonomidoy said. “Everything that I do is related somehow to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.”
Oikonomidoy said that she wished she could share the award with her students, because she said that a lot of the work she does can’t be done alone.
“I recommend that we have awards like this for students,” Oikonomidoy said. “We can recognize faculty and I think it's an important element. Recognizing both graduate and undergraduate students would be important, as well. Our students engage in incredible work and it is important to showcase that. That would be something that I would like to see in the future.”
Each year, the University holds an “Honor the Best” ceremony to give out many awards, one of which is the Inclusion, Equity and Diversity Leadership award. However, due to the ongoing pandemic, this year’s ceremony was held virtually. The names of award recipients were read out live through Zoom, but to accommodate the fact that award winners couldn’t be there to accept the honors in-person, the event offered all the viewers the opportunity to use the chat during the ceremony.
“It was a really nice event because the chat function allowed for a collective response,” Oikonomidoy said. “The awards were going fast, but you could see people congratulating each other in chat. It was a nice touch because when you're in a face-to-face event, you know who's there, you can see people that you recognize from across campus.”