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Oregon to receive 2020 NCAA/MOAA Diversity and Inclusion Award

University honored for creating culture of belonging

The Oregon athletics department has earned the NCAA and Minority Opportunities Athletic Association’s 2020 Award for Diversity and Inclusion. Oregon will receive the award in January at the NCAA Convention in Anaheim, California.

The NCAA/MOAA Award for Diversity and Inclusion recognizes and celebrates the initiatives, policies and practices of colleges and universities and/or athletics conferences that embrace diversity and inclusion across intercollegiate athletics and higher education. Awarded schools are honored for their commitment to inclusion, diversity, community outreach, professional development, hiring practices and programming activities as they relate to efforts that enhance the experiences and opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds, cultures and experiences. 

“I am extremely proud that the University of Oregon’s athletics department has earned this recognition,” Oregon President Michael H. Schill said. “Their extraordinary commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion supports the UO’s overarching goal of creating an environment in which our students, faculty, staff and alumni can thrive and create meaningful impact.

“Fostering diversity and inclusion isn’t just the right thing to do; it vastly improves the quality of teaching and research at our university. It improves our athletics department, creates richer experiences, includes more perspectives, enhances our mission and informs everything we do,” Schill said.

“The University of Oregon athletics department is honored to receive the 2020 Award for Diversity and Inclusion from the NCAA and MOAA,” Oregon Athletics Director Rob Mullens said. “The culture of Oregon athletics includes a true respect for and commitment to equity and diversity among all of our student-athletes, coaches and staff members at the core of our principles.”

The NCAA and MOAA noted the leadership and the initiatives created and developed at Oregon in honoring the school with the eighth annual award. This is the first time Oregon has received the award.

“With excitement, we congratulate and applaud the University of Oregon’s department of athletics for its hard work and commitment to inclusive excellence,” said Katrice Albert, NCAA executive vice president for inclusion and human resources. “Oregon’s bold and courageous leadership — within athletics and the university as a whole — is an example of intentional behavior and action that can move the needle in the right direction in creating positive experiences and a culture of belonging for student-athletes and athletics staff. We are thrilled to honor Oregon representatives in January during Convention.”

“We look forward to celebrating this award with the University of Oregon at the NCAA Convention in January and again at the MOAA Symposium in June 2020,” said China Jude, president of MOAA and Wyoming senior associate athletics director and senior woman administrator. “Our association looks forward to continuing to honor the great work that our institutions are providing, both within the college athletics community and the campus as a whole.”

Oregon created and developed several initiatives that linked directly to student-athlete and staff well-being and inclusion. It created a Community and Inclusion Committee, which initially was tasked with writing an athletics department diversity action plan but later evolved to doing more inclusive work such as planning events and developing policies that address student-athlete, administrator and coaching issues. The committee also facilitated discussions that created solutions to student-athlete and athletics staff issues and was successful creating a full-time behavioral health position and a women’s group for staff. 

The CIC, through its subcommittees, also worked to educate staff on relevant topics and worked to make sure hiring practices within athletics were fair and equitable. A track also was created to keep abreast of diversity and inclusion issues of importance to Oregon’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Additionally, the athletics department created the “BeOregon” campaign four years ago. The initiative is a shared call to action inspired by the collective culture and inclusivity of student-athletes, coaches and staff members to boost all Oregon Ducks to reach their full potential and be their authentic selves. Oregon has collaborated with its athletics teams and marketing staff to establish events and apparel that promote the ideals of the inclusive campaign. 

The athletics department leadership also has hosted a campus student as an intern to bridge athletics and the university. The position grants the undergraduate student access to senior officials, professional development, networking and work experiences. The internship partnering began with the school’s Division of Equity and Inclusion. 

“Oregon athletics’ deliberate, deep and path-breaking work is empowering a culture of reflection, authenticity and whole-hearted success among our student-athletes and staff, while simultaneously positioning student-athletes for inspirational leadership on a global scale,” said Yvette Alex-Assensoh, Oregon’s vice president for equity and inclusion and a professor of political science.

“We are very grateful to the NCAA and the MOAA for highlighting the significance of Oregon athletics’ exemplary work, which is connected to other high-quality equity and inclusion efforts on campus and linked to broader UO institutional values and aspirational goals,” Alex-Assensoh said.

Oregon athletics staff also created a women’s support group called the Women of Oregon. The group has been supportive of efforts to provide a safe environment for women to work. Other examples of the athletics department’s support of diversity and inclusion include being more proactive in hiring a diverse staff; gender inclusive pronouns being added to the student-athlete handbook; discussions and presentations on LGBTQ inclusion for staff and student-athletes; and eradicating gender violence through training sessions.