Graduate School

The University of Mississippi

Graduate Program in Criminal Justice Wins Don Cole Award for Inclusiveness

by Jordan Orris

Dr. Kimberly A. Kaiser

Dr. Kimberly A. Kaiser, Graduate Program Coordinator of the Department of Legal Studies

Established in 2004, the Donald R. Cole Excellence in Promoting Inclusiveness in Graduate Education Award, as it is now called, is given annually to an individual (faculty or staff member), a group of individuals or an academic program who/that exemplifies a commitment to the cause of enhancing diversity at the graduate level. The purpose of this award is to highlight best practices, and to honor those who are responsible for creating or enhancing an inclusive environment for graduate education.

Past recipients include:

Dr. Derrick Harriell, Professor of English and African American Studies (2018)

Dr. Cecile Labuda,  Professor of Physics (2017)

Modern Languages Program (2017)

More recipients are linked here:

This year, the Master of Criminal Justice (MCJ) program in the Department of Legal Studies of the School of Applied Sciences received the Donald R. Cole Award.

“Winning this award has been incredibly meaningful for our department as it acknowledges the progress we’ve made and reaffirms our continued commitment towards our mission of inclusiveness. In the few years that I have been in this department, I have seen the dedication of the faculty and leadership in this department to promote a culture that is welcoming of students and faculty from diverse backgrounds,” said Dr. Kimberly A. Kaiser, Graduate Program Coordinator of the Department of Legal Studies.

“No amount of words can express how happy we were to win this Award. As a department, we take diversity and inclusion seriously and work hard towards achieving that objective. The Award is a reflection of our effort and commitment to creating a conducive environment for all students, staff, and faculty in the department. We will not be too complacent for winning the Award and relent in our effort but instead, we will consider this Award as a challenge to continue creating equal opportunity for our students, staff, and faculty,” shared Dr. Francis Boateng, Assistant Professor in the Department of Legal Studies and Fellow at the Sara Isom Center for Women & Gender Studies.

Dr. Linda Keena, Interim Chair of the Department of Legal Studies

“I believe the most effective way to build an inclusive learning environment comes from faculty forming meaningful connections with their students…. The ‘role-model’ effect says students of color benefit both academically and emotionally from seeing teachers who look like them. We, therefore have been intentional in recruiting and hiring diverse graduate faculty,” shared Dr. Linda Keena, Interim Chair of the Department of Legal Studies.

“Since being notified, I’ve been smiling and sharing my happy news with everyone. I think I’ve used every possible idiom to try to describe my excitement. I am so very proud and honored to be recognized for such a distinguished award. I’m even prouder knowing that our students are feeling the positive effects of a more inclusive, more just, and more effective program,” Dr. Keena continued.

We are certainly proud of the MCJ program for continuously seeking diversity, and recognize the concerted efforts and successes so far in achieving their goals.