Ruby Nancy, LSBE assistant professor of business communication, earned a University of Minnesota systemwide distinction: the Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Award.
The award honors faculty who have done significant research, teaching, or service/leadership to advance justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (DEI) within the University of Minnesota system, in the person's field of study, or in our broader community. These awards are meant to advance and elevate equity work; provide funding in recognition of the value of that work; and showcase critical scholarship, pedagogy, and community engagement.
“Most everything I do—at UMD and beyond— is tied to my values,” said Nancy. “I believe that my competencies and efforts should be used to make the world a better—and more just—place.”
The prestigious award comes with a monetary component that Nancy, who joined LSBE in 2019, will use for a community engagement project that will connect students with city residents. She’ll also speak at the Conference on College Composition and Communication in Chicago in February on the topic of disrupting the ongoing marginalization of queer and other identities in academic spaces—classrooms, campuses, research publications, and conferences—as well as centering stories of inclusivity as a way of making meaning.
While Nancy notes that she has always been an advocate for equity and justice, she is most proud of her work on campus over the past three years.
“Working on LSBE’s Teaching & Learning Committee [which is made up of LSBE faculty, staff, and students and charged with identifying and sharing best practices in teaching to support student learning, including meeting LSBE's goals of providing innovative, effective, and inclusive teaching]
and my work with students are what I find most rewarding. These things have a lot of impact—on the students and on the culture in LSBE and at UMD. I'm also proud to be working with LSBE colleagues who also value this work. Knowing that so many people here value justice and equity—and value teaching—is a big part of what I love about working here.”
Last semester, Nancy was recognized by LSBE for a curriculum enrichment project. The curriculum changes she made had a demonstrable impact on student awareness and understanding of DEI issues, with over 95% of students saying (a) they had a better understanding of DEI issues, (b) they were challenged to consider how DEI impacts business, (c) they were better able to understand people different than them, and (d) that the project made them better leaders.
“In the time she has been here, Dr. Nancy has made a significant positive impact on our School in terms of justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion,” said Rajiv Vaidyanathan, professor of Marketing and Marketing Department head. “I enthusiastically recommended her for this award.
“Dr. Nancy is a tireless advocate for equity and inclusiveness. She has brought issues to my attention that have opened my eyes to how the less powerful perceive various systemic norms that the rest of us take for granted.”
Nancy also is involved with DEI activities outside of UMD, singing with the justice-oriented Echoes of Peace Community Choir and volunteering with the St. Mark Giving Garden—a food access, food justice, racial equity, and empowerment project in the Duluth Hillside neighborhood. She recently joined the board of directors of the Clayton Jackson McGhee Memorial.
“I look forward to working with them in the community on racial justice and equity projects.”