Inclusive Excellence Awards

The USU Inclusive Excellence Awards recognize individuals or organizations on campus and in communities served by USU who have made significant contributions to diversity and inclusion. Awards are given in the following categories: Student, Faculty, Administrator, Staff, Individual Community Member, and Community Organization.

Award Criteria
  • Intrapersonal Awareness: Actively commits to self-reflection. Demonstrates profound awareness of personal worldview. Critically examines own ideas, assumptions, and values effectively, fostering meaningful discussions and actions.
  • Interpersonal Awareness: Consistently creates opportunities for inclusive dialogue. Validates individuals’ experiences effectively. Promotes meaningful dialogue among peers consistently, fostering a supportive environment.
  • Curricular Transformation: Integrates diverse perspectives into the curriculum consistently, fostering a diverse and inclusive learning environment. Reflects critically on the inclusivity of the curriculum consistently, making appropriate changes as needed.
  • Inclusive Leadership: Values and respects diverse perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences consistently. Creates an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included effectively, fostering meaningful collaboration and inclusion.
  • Inclusive Learning Environment: Demonstrates care, respect, and pride in individuals’ achievements consistently. Engages in supportive outreach efforts effectively, fostering an inclusive environment where all individuals feel valued and respected.

*Awards are only given to those who have not received an award in the past five years.

Nomination Guidelines
To nominate a student, faculty member, administrator, individual community member, or community organization, please complete the USU Inclusive Excellence Awards nomination form.

Self-nominations are allowed. Please include references or supporting materials like publication or media recognition along with the nomination form.

All nominations must be submitted by April 5, 2024

Send your nomination packet by email to


2023-2024 Award Recipients

The recipients of USU's 29th Annual Inclusive Excellence Awards are celebrated for their efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read more about the Inclusive Excellence Awards in Utah State Today, or view past recipients.

Joseph Ward – Administrator

Joseph Ward headshot

Joseph Ward serves as the dean for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

While serving as the Dean of CHaSS, Ward has encouraged the development of programs and centers that foster inclusive excellence and belonging, including

  • The Heravi Peace Institute.
  • The Center for Intersectional Gender Studies and Research.
  • The Transforming Communities Institute.
  • The Community and Natural Resources Institute.

He has also supported the faculty- and staff-led CHaSS Inclusive Excellence Council and the development of inclusive majors, minors and certificates.

During his tenure Ward led the hiring of an associate dean for inclusive excellence and belonging. The role of this associate dean is to work directly with college and university stakeholders to help spearhead and support efforts toward inclusive excellence. This is a unique role to the university, and it has helped CHaSS continue to move forward in their inclusive excellence goals and efforts.

Cree Taylor – Faculty

Cree Taylor headshot

Cree Taylor is a lecturer in the Department of English at USU and was also recently appointed as the associate dean for inclusive excellence and belonging in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. This is the first position of its kind in CHaSS and at Utah State University.

Taylor is a self-reflective instructor who applies critical and inclusive pedagogies in the classroom.

As a member of the Faculty Senate, Cree sits on the Faculty Evaluation Committee where they have examined the ways minoritized faculty can better interact with IDEA course evaluations and have taken a closer look at the tenure and promotion process at USU. She consistently speaks out in favor of equitable practices when it comes to faculty evaluation and promotion.

Cree is a member of the USU Inclusive Excellence Council and the Athletics Inclusive Excellence Council, where she focuses on issues that affect the students of USU.

During her tenure at USU she has served as the Black Student Union faculty adviser and former co-chair of the USU Juneteenth Planning Committee. In her Juneteenth role, she brought together 32 campus and community partners as well as USU Alumni in celebration of the USU Juneteenth Event Series.

Amber Reed – Staff

Amber Reed headshot

Amber Reed — the program assistant for education and professional learning in Inclusive Excellence — has demonstrated a commitment to fostering an inclusive community for students, faculty and staff.

She actively seeks out opportunities to expand her own understanding while also engaging with individuals from diverse backgrounds, recognizing the value of learning from varied experiences.

Reed has followed through on important projects, including her work a collaborative grant project with USU Blanding for Native American Serving Non-Tribal Institutions.

She championed the initiative to recognize and honor USU’s multicultural graduates and address the disconnect between experiences at USU Blanding and the Logan main campus.

Through her efforts, professional development opportunities have been created to enhance understanding and capacity in leading organizations with diversity, equity, and inclusion at their core.

Sidnee Naerebout – Student

Amber Reed headshot

Sidnee Naerebout is a veterinary sciences major and USU student athlete competing in triple jump for the Women’s Track and Field Team.

Last year she served as a student intern for the USU Juneteenth Event Series Planning Committee. As a part of this internship, Naerebout attended and took minutes for committee meetings, volunteered during the event series, recruited student-athlete volunteers, delivered marketing materials throughout the community, and sat in meaningful dialogue with the committee co-chairs.

Naerebout is also the president and founder of the USU Black Student-Athlete Association, or BSAA. This student-led organization works to foster an environment of inclusive excellence in athletics. They plan and carry out a variety of events for students including movie nights, game nights, trivia, and tailgating parties. BSAA also collaborates with on-campus organizations.

This semester, BSAA collaborated with the Black Student Union to host a community Black hair information night. They gave a presentation on the history of Black hair and invited local barbers and hair stylists to present on proper hair care techniques. This event was primarily attended by families and children seeking more information about how to properly care for their hair.

F. Ross Peterson – Community Individual

Amber Reed headshot

F. Ross Peterson taught “Business, Race and Society” in USU’s Management Department. This led to two separate alumni panels during Black History Month, one on philanthropy and service, the other on minority business leaders.

Simultaneously, he worked with the Juneteenth Committee as this holiday became part of USU and Cache Valley’s remembrance. During the past year, he spoke about the growth of minority studies in a presentation, “In Search of Henry Aaron: Baseball, Religion, and Civil rights” in St. George and Salt Lake City.

Peterson was involved in the creation of a student-faculty exchange with Fort Valley State University in Georgia, whose president, Paul Jones, is a USU graduate.

During the past two years, he has led Japanese college students involved with Middlebury students to visit Japanese American World War II Relocation camps in California and Utah. The students are involved with translating oral history from English to Japanese but had not seen the camps.

This past winter, he joined Sterling Bone for a workshop at the Brotherhood Crusade Foundation in Los Angeles. Charrise B. Weaver, an alumnus, works with high school and college students to prepare them for college, and Bone’s students mentored them on practical and encouraging ways to move forward with education.

St. John's Episcopal Church – Community Organization/Group

St Johns Episcopal Church

St. John’s Episcopal church has been an active presence in the Cache Valley community for 150 years. It provided the first public showers and the first library in order to make basic services available to people regardless of social or financial status.

During summer 2022, a group of community members began plans to open a local warming center to provide a safe and warm place at night during the coldest months of the year for those without access to shelter and housing. The board of the William A Burnard Warming Center anticipated opening the following year, in December 2023.

St. John’s is also a community leader in offering a welcoming, supportive, and loving space for members of Cache Valley’s LGBT+ communities and their allies. The church has supported the Pride Center since its founding in 2017, both financially and with physical space.

St. John’s is a founding member of Cache Community Connections, a civic and interfaith group formed in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11.

The St. John’s community recently made a generous contribution to the Friends of the Logan Library to commemorate the church’s 150th anniversary, drawing a direct line from the first community library — hosted by St. John’s — to today’s new building that serves Logan and its residents.

Past Recipients

Academic Year 2022-2023
Administrator: Michelle Baker
Faculty: Beth Buyserie
Staff: Amand Hardiman
Student: Olusola Omisakin
Community Member: Ashanti Moritz
Community Group: HEART Initiative

Academic Year 2020 - 2021
Administrator: Janis Boettinger
Faculty: Christy Glass
Staff: Nahomi Jimenez
Student: Jamal-Jared Alexander
Community Member: Dennis Briscoe

Academic Year 2019 - 2020
Faculty: Melanie Domenech Rodriguez
Staff: Jeannie Sur
Student: Ekeoma (Ugo) Ezeh
Community Organization: CRIC

Academic Year 2018 - 2019
Administrator: Laura Gelfand
Faculty: Kristin Searle
Staff: Eri Bentley
Student: Jared Gheen
Community Organization: NUHHC

Academic Year 2017 - 2018
Administrator: Raymond Veon
Faculty: Crescencio Lopez
Staff: Jessica Roueche
Student: Lesther Papa
Community Organization: The Family Place