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Melvina Sumter, associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, received the 2007 President's Diversity Champion Award for her exemplary accomplishments in the areas of diversity, leadership, and programmatic support at Old Dominion University.

Sumter was honored with 11 other nominees at an April 11 reception sponsored by the Office of Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action. Other honorees included: Bonita Anthony, Batten College of Engineering and Technology; Dana Burnett, Darden College of Education; Jim Calliotte, University College; Lesa Clark, Multicultural Student Services; Chandra de Silva, College of Arts and Letters; Mona Farrow, University Library; Carol Hudson, Athletics; Carolyn McCollum, Student Success Services; LaKeisha Phelps, Admissions; Michael Walker, Development; and Sandra Waters, Academic Continuance.

Sumter was recognized for integrating the ideals of diversity into the core of her professional activities. As a professor and researcher, she developed and taught courses such as "Diversity and Criminal Justice" and "Community Justice" and authored the article "Diversity and Domestic Violence." She developed and advised the ODU Chapter of the National Association for Blacks in Criminal Justice for the past seven years and has served on prestigious academic and community boards that promote ideals of social justice and diversity.

"The best way to describe Dr. Sumter is to suggest that she is a well-rounded scholar who uses ideals of diversity and social justice to excel in teaching, research, and service," said Chandra DeSilva, dean of the College of Arts and Letters. "In both undergraduate and graduate classes, students clearly hold Dr. Sumter in high regard. Beyond developing courses that educate students about diversity, Dr. Sumter has integrated ideals of diversity in all of her courses, and it is clear that students appreciate her efforts in this regard."

Indeed, student evaluations consistently praise Sumter. "Dr. Sumter is an excellent professor," noted one. "She really has a passion for what she teaches," said another.

Sumter helped develop a continuing education course titled "Cultural Diversity and Domestic Violence" for social workers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. More than 100 social workers have already taken this course offered by the Virginia Institute for Social Services Training Activities. Additionally, she is currently working on separate research projects with the police departments of Virginia Beach and Norfolk, where she is assessing the role of diversity in recruiting and retaining law enforcement officers.

She earned a Ph.D. from Florida State University and her areas of expertise include penology/corrections, theoretical criminology and social support.

This article was posted on: April 25, 2007

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