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Thom Stevenson selected to lead new Patton College Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Published: October 21, 2021 Author: Kim Barlag

One of the first initiatives of Interim Dean Sara Helfrich in The Patton College of Education was to create a Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Education to lead a reorganized, more robust committee that focuses on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

While the Patton College has prioritized diversity and inclusion in the past with speakers and events organized by the Dean’s Advisory on Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the new committee comprises membership and the vision previously addressed by three Patton College committees – the Rural Appalachia committee, the Veterans Affairs committee, and the International committees.

“All of these committees are relevant and necessary, but we can do a better job working together and preventing duplicative efforts,” Helfrich said. “With a larger committee, led by the Dean’s Fellow, all these areas will be represented in a cohesive, collaborative, and streamlined manner.”

Helfrich selected Thom Stevenson, assistant professor of instruction in the Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism program, as the new Dean’s Fellow for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusive Education. The role of the Dean’s Fellow is to not only lead the committee, but to advise and work with Patton College leadership, faculty, staff, and students to advance diversity, equity, and inclusive education across the college, and to sustain a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming community that upholds the highest standards of excellence. 

Stevenson has spent his entire academic and career pathway seeking to understand a framework that involves a greater understanding of intersectionality studies, intercultural dialogue, and appreciative inquiry. He specifically sought out a master’s program that focused on organizational change and a Ph.D. program based in social justice, leadership, and change. He anticipates completing his Ph.D. in 2022.

Stevenson has spoken at numerous conferences about inclusiveness in the hospitality workforce and initiated the first Ohio University Restaurant Ready program cohort for individuals who are or have been incarcerated, in partnership with ASPIRE and the Ohio Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. Additionally, he incorporated inclusive language and approaches in the classroom and was awarded the Inclusive Teaching Certificate by the Ohio College Teaching consortium. He has also served the community with initiatives aimed at assisting seniors and veterans.

“I believe we all should have the ability to fully participate and create a society where all persons’ framework and respected gifts have a seat at the table,” Stevenson said. “I have learned what it takes to create a life that exists as a person in my own multicultural family, rich with cultural values and ethnic diversity. Ours is a complicated world, now filled with opportunities to take and make space for others. The time is now to create future change leaders and model interculturalism.”

Faculty and staff serving on the committee are:

  • Ashley Allanson, assistant professor of instruction, Recreation, Sport Pedagogy, and Consumer Sciences
  • Oumarou Abdoulaye Balarabe, president of Holmes Council and doctoral student in Higher Education
  • Kelly Davidson, academic adviser, Student Affairs
  • Linda Fife, director of the Institute for Democracy in Education
  • Julie Francis, director of Edward Stevens Literacy Center
  • Lisa Harrison, associate professor, Teacher Education
  • Dillon Heineman, student in Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism
  • Courtney Koestler, director of the OHIO Center for Equity in Mathematics and Science
  • Brett Noel, assistant professor of instruction, Teacher Education
  • Lucky Odirile, visiting professor, Counseling and Higher Education
  • Haesun Park-Poaps, associate professor, Recreation, Sport Pedagogy, and Consumer Sciences
  • Yegan Pillay, professor, Counseling and Higher Education
  • Adah Ward Randolph, professor, Educational Studies
  • Jason Rawls, associate professor of instruction, Teacher Education
  • Mona Robinson, professor, Counseling and Higher Education
  • Jane Skon, associate professor of instruction, Teacher Education
  • Thom Stevenson, associate professor of instruction, Recreation, Sport Pedagogy, and Consumer Sciences
  • Yuchun Zhou, associate professor, Educational Studies
  • A Regional Higher Education representative to be determined

“I am proud that our faculty clearly believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion should be a top priority for the college,” Helfrich said. “I am heartened and inspired by the work that many of the faculty have done to broaden their own understanding and to ensure our college, our University, our community, and our world is a place of acceptance for all.”