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Gloria Smith awarded inaugural EDI Distinguished Leadership Award

Gloria Smith, who leads training for the Division of Administration’s Facilities Department, was the recipient of the inaugural Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Leadership AwardChancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos and Interim Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Tina Smith recognized Smith, along with the 2017 winners of the Commodore Award and employees celebrating 20 years or more of service to the university, at the Service Award Ceremony Jan. 30 at the Student Life Center.

The Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion established the Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Distinguished Leadership Award in 2017 to recognize a full-time regular staff member who has demonstrated exemplary contributions to Vanderbilt University’s mission as well as exhibited outstanding commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion. This annual award recognizes significant achievements in developing a culturally diverse, compassionate university community reflective of inclusive excellence.

Nominees typically demonstrate:

  • impact on the campus environment in a way that substantially enhances the institution’s equity, diversity and inclusion efforts
  • performance that goes beyond the scope of their position at the university and reflects a high level of service, dedication, compassion and applied skill to the support of equity, diversity and inclusion
  • raises awareness about equity, diversity and inclusion in accordance with Vanderbilt University’s mission

Smith, the inaugural EDI Distinguished Leadership Award recipient, is a 10-year Vanderbilt employee. She leads training for the Facilities department’s 440 members, the majority of whom belong to the Laborers’ International Union of North America. Her duties have included facilitating Plant Ops University, a six-week course open to all faculty and staff at Vanderbilt interested in learning what Plant Operations does, from electricity to plumbing to sustainability and renovation projects. She is currently re-vamping the course to provide a more holistic Facilities overview that is inclusive of Campus Planning and Construction and Real Estate.

Smith also oversees the 30 hours of required annual training for Plant Operations staff. These sessions encompass work safety, technology and more. In summer 2017 she helped organize the inaugural Facilities Field Day, a grassroots event designed by Facilities staff in the field, the goal of which was to promote interaction among all staff in Facilities in a fun, inclusive environment. The event was a huge hit thanks to Smith’s organizational skills, attention to detail and commitment to facilitating inclusiveness and diversity. She and the event’s planning team coined the motto “No Labels, Just People,” which has quickly become a tagline for the Facilities organization.

In addition, Smith worked closely with the Office for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion to initiate a series of training classes on the topic of diversity. These well-attended sessions ran from February to August 2017 and were open to all Facilities staff. Sandra Barnes, assistant vice chancellor of equity, diversity and inclusion and professor of human and organizational development, led the sessions on topics ranging from unconscious bias to tips in mapping, bridging and integrating. Smith was integral in facilitating these events and is currently working on future sessions for diversity training.

Some 904 honorees representing 276 departments were recognized at the 2017 Service Award Ceremony. The event was hosted by Zeppos along with master of ceremonies John Lutz, vice chancellor for information technology. Lutz took attendees on a journey through the past 40 years of milestone events for both the university and the country.