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University of Missouri

Many Cultures, One Voice

The Mizzou Alumni Association awards a faculty-alumni award to Etti Naveh-Benjamin.

Councilman Jermaine Reed speaks with MU students.

Councilman Jermaine Reed, BGS ’06, representative for Kansas City’s Third District, speaks with MU students during the Mizzou Alumni Association’s Fireside Chat April 30 in the Reynolds Alumni Center. As part of the association’s inclusiveness initiative, Reed and other alumni gathered with students to offer advice, share experiences and answer questions. Photo by Rachel Coward.

The Mizzou Alumni Association had plenty of reasons to give Etti Naveh-Benjamin a 2012 Faculty-Alumni Award. For starters, she won a 2011 William T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence, MU’s top teaching honor. It also turns out that her passion for multiculturalism is right in line with the association’s new inclusiveness initiative.

Naveh-Benjamin directs MU’s Multicultural Certificate program. Students earn the certificate, which is akin to a minor, by taking 15 hours of courses across disciplines that examine issues such as gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and class inequality. During the past five years, Naveh-Benjamin transformed a fledgling program into a popular offering. About 1,000 students have graduated with the certificate, which is noted on their transcripts, and roughly 2,000 more are taking courses to qualify.

The association’s inclusiveness initiative seeks to ensure that all students and alumni have equal opportunity to engage in its activities and decision-making, says Robert Ross, a graduate student in education who runs the program.

“I think the world of this effort,” Naveh-Benjamin says. “It’s exciting for the initiative’s future just knowing that we have 3,000 people either with a multicultural certificate or working on one now. It really demonstrates their strong interest in these issues.”