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BOARD OF TRUSTEES HOLDS ANNUAL DIVERSITY AWARDS RECOGNITION

2/17/2022 - Jackson, Miss.

The Honorable David L. Jordan, Senator, Mississippi State Senate, receives the Karen Cummins Community Service Award.

Dr. Todd M. Davis of Delta State University is named the 2022 Diversity Educator of the Year.

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning celebrated Black History Month by holding its annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards ceremony at the meeting held virtually earlier today. Campus and community leaders were recognized for their efforts in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect. Dr. Todd M. Davis, Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation & Director of Outdoor Programs for Delta State University, was named the 2022 Diversity Educator of the Year.

The Honorable David L. Jordan, Senator, Mississippi State Senate, received the Karen Cummins Community Service Award. In 2017, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the Community Service Award in memory of Trustee Cummins in recognition that her life epitomized what the award is all about, helping to improve Mississippi's communities with a welcoming and inclusive spirit.

"The Board of Trustees is very pleased to recognize Senator David L. Jordan and Dr. Todd M. Davis," said Dr. Steven Cunningham, Trustee and Chair of the Board of Trustees' Diversity Committee. "Senator Jordan has been a stalwart supporter of education on all levels, serving on the Education Committee throughout his time in the Mississippi Legislature. He has demonstrated wisdom, foresight and courage as a public servant, leader in the civil rights movement, and as an educator for 33 years. Dr. Davis is a dynamic leader who holds the Dave Heflin Professorship and has promoted diversity efforts within the outdoor programs arena and across the Delta State University campus."

As a Member of the Mississippi Legislature since 1993, Senator Jordan has been a stalwart supporter of education on all levels, serving on the Education Committee throughout his tenure of service. Having spent 33 years as a public school teacher, Senator Jordan understands the transformative power of education and that a holistic approach is necessary to help all students succeed. He wrote legislation to promote character education in public schools, which helped prepare Mississippi students to become ethical, honorable, and principled leaders.

Senator Jordan served on the Greenwood City Council for 36 years and helped to make the city a better place to live and raise a family. He also demonstrated his passion for service through the Greenwood Voters League. In 1972, Governor Bill Waller asked the Greenwood Voters League to recommend someone to be the first African American appointed to the IHL Board. The League recommended Robert Walker Harrison from Yazoo City. He was ultimately appointed by Gov. Waller and served from 1972 to 1984.

Senator Jordan was elected to represent the 24th District in the State Senate. He is currently serving as Chairman of the Senate Drug Policy Committee, and a member of the Education, Agriculture, County Affairs, Finance, Housing, Municipalities, Tourism and Environmental Protection, Conservation and Water Resources Committees. His efforts to change the state flag were instrumental in its passage in 2020.

Senator Jordan was reared in Leflore County, Mississippi, graduated from Mississippi Valley State University in Itta Bena, and earned a master's degree in chemistry from the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming.

His life of service was described in his memoir, David L. Jordan: From the Mississippi Cotton Fields to the State Senate, A Memoir, which was published in 2014 by the University Press of Mississippi and shares his life from his earliest days working in the fields with his family of sharecroppers through his leadership in the Civil Rights Movement and his time in the Mississippi State Senate.

Senator Jordan and his wife, Christine Bell Jordan, reside in Greenwood and have four children: David L. Jordan, Jr., Joyce Jordan Dugar, Dr. Donald Jordan, and Dr. Daryl Jordan.

Dr. Todd M. Davis holds the Dave Heflin Professorship and is an Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation & Director of Outdoor Programs for Delta State University.

In his role as Director of Outdoor Programs, Dr. Davis has developed ground-breaking and award-winning outdoor leadership and education programs. He has served as the Director of the Delta Youth Adventure Program, an afterschool recreation and activity for children attending a local elementary school. He has also served as Director of OKRA Camp for 11 years and developed and directed the "Delta Down & Dirty" Youth Mud/Obstacle Run and Delta Youth Adventure Program.

Dr. Davis has championed equity and inclusion through his teaching, research, and service and incorporates best practices in pedagogy and technology in the classroom. He has often partnered with academic departments and campus offices to create more inclusive opportunities for students and has routinely co-sponsored events, such as a weekend rock-climbing expedition to Arkansas, specifically to break down barriers and create greater understanding of other cultures and viewpoints.

Dr. Davis has served as President of the City of Cleveland Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, giving generously of his time and expertise to assist in re-visioning and restructuring of the Cleveland City Parks & Recreation Department, leading to numerous enhancements, including installing new "Splash Pads" at three city parks, creating a new logo for the organization, and updating its mission statement.

Dr. Davis has received several notable professional awards, including the 2021 Georgene Clark Diversity Champion Award at Delta State's annual Winning the Race conference and the 2021 Mississippi Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, and Dance Recreation Education Professional of the Year. The OKRA Camp was recognized by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation of Mississippi as a "Model Recreation Day Camp."

In the letter of nomination, Dr. Davis' impact on the campus community was summarized, "Since he arrived in 2008 at Delta State University, Dr. Davis has been a staunch advocate for diversity and inclusion in the Mississippi Delta in his teaching, service to campus and community, and research. In his professional and personal pursuits, he is leading the way for everybody to ‘get outdoorsy,' as he likes to say. He is richly deserving of the IHL Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award."

Dr. Davis earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education and a Master of Science degree in sport and recreation administration from the University of Idaho in Moscow, Idaho. He earned his doctorate in professional studies from Delta State University.


Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning President Dr. Walt Starr (left) and Board Diversity Committee Chair Dr. Steven Cunningham (right) present the Karen Cummins Community Service Award to Senator David L. Jordan.

In addition to the Educator of the Year, the Board also honored faculty from each of Mississippi's public universities for advancing diversity at their institutions. These honorees include:

    Marta A. Piva, Ph.D.
    Professor and Interim Chair, Department of Biological Sciences
    Alcorn State University

    Todd M. Davis, Ed.D.
    Assistant Professor of Health, Physical Education and Recreation & Director of Outdoor Programs
    Delta State University

    ConSandra McNeil, Ph.D.
    Assistant Provost for Academic Affairs and Professor of Sociology
    Jackson State University

    Christopher Hunter, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Architecture
    Mississippi State University

    Rachel Welborn
    Associate Director, Southern Rural Development Center
    Mississippi State University, DAFVM

    Shahara'Tova Dente, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of English & Women's Studies/Graduate Director of Women's Leadership
    Mississippi University for Women

    Lokesh Shivakumaraiah, Ph.D.
    Executive Director of International Relations and Assistant to Provost
    Mississippi Valley State University

    Ashleen Williams
    Senior Barksdale Fellow, Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College/Instructional Assistant Professor
    University of Mississippi

    Norma Beatriz Ojeda, M.D.
    Professor and Vice Chair for Research, Department of Pediatrics
    University of Mississippi Medical Center

    LaWanda Baskin, Ph.D.
    Director, School of Leadership and Advanced Nursing Practice
    University of Southern Mississippi

A video of the Diversity Awards Ceremony may be viewed online.

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The Mississippi Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning governs the public universities in Mississippi, including Alcorn State University; Delta State University; Jackson State University; Mississippi State University including the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine; Mississippi University for Women; Mississippi Valley State University; the University of Mississippi including the University of Mississippi Medical Center; and the University of Southern Mississippi.

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