New awards will recognize efforts to enhance Greek inclusiveness

University of Georgia students who work to advance an inclusive living and learning environment within Greek organizations at UGA could now receive an award for their work, thanks to UGA President Jere W. Morehead, UGA’s Interfraternity Council, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

At the recommendation of the Presidential Task Force on Race, Ethnicity, and Community, UGA President Jere W. Morehead designated $50,000 from funds provided by the University of Georgia Athletic Association to endow the Greek Life Diversity Award fund so that awards can be given in perpetuity.

Significant commitments followed from the Interfraternity Council and Delta Sigma Theta, both in the amount of $25,000. These gifts, alongside the funding designated by Morehead, mean that four awards can be given each year.

“I appreciate the commitment and support from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and the Interfraternity Council on this important initiative,” said Morehead. “Their gifts help drive our comprehensive strategy to create a more inclusive campus.”

To date, Morehead has accepted nearly a dozen recommendations from the task force, which was chaired by Victor Wilson, vice president for student affairs, and counted faculty, staff, alumni and students among its members.

“I am thrilled that we can continue to reward diversity and inclusion work in UGA’s Greek community,” said Wilson. “Greek Life offers incredible experiences and life-long relationships to our students, so the more we can do to increase our efforts to ensure that more students feel like they have a place in that special community, the better. My gratitude goes out to President Morehead as well as the generous Greek organizations that have contributed.”

Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the awards, and recipients will be selected by a committee appointed by the vice president for student affairs. The first recipients will be named in the fall 2021 semester.

“There’s an expectation among Greek organizations that members strive to make a positive impact in their community, so we’re excited to reward those making a positive impact in the Greek community itself,” said Joshua Welch, director of Greek Life. “Our Greek organizations have committed to a number of diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives, and our new awards will be a tremendous asset alongside those in advancing inclusivity in Greek Life.”

Last year, Welch and Greek council presidents established the Committee on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Greek Life. This new committee, along with an enhanced focus on Greek leader education and evaluation of social events and student-led action, are among the actions Greek Life has taken to better represent the diversity of the UGA community.

UGA officials anticipate future private donations to the Greek Life Diversity Award fund, which could increase the size and quantity of awards over time. The university has prioritized diversity, equity and inclusion funds in its recent fundraising efforts.

Other task force recommendations accepted by Morehead thus far include establishment of the Judge Horace J. Johnson Jr. Lecture on Race, Law and Policy, honoring the late Georgia Superior Court judge and trailblazer; installation of campus markers to recognize UGA’s nine historically Black fraternities and sororities; and the revival of a student recruitment program tailored to Latinx/Hispanic students and their parents.