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Board of Trustees Holds Annual Diversity Awards Recognition

Fri, 02/16/2018 - 14:30pm | By: Caron Blanton

From left are: Trustee Shane Hooper, University of Southern Mississippi (USM) honoree Dr. Chin-Nu Lin, USM President Rodney D. Bennett
From left are: Trustee Shane Hooper, University of Southern Mississippi (USM) honoree Dr. Chin-Nu Lin, USM President Rodney D. Bennett

The Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning celebrated Black History Month by holding its annual Diversity Awards ceremony at the meeting held Thursday, Feb. 15 in Jackson. Campus and community leaders were recognized for their efforts in advancing diversity and encouraging understanding and respect.

Ms. Michelle Johansen, Adjunct Instructor of History, Quality Enhancement Plan Coordinator and Study Abroad Coordinator for Delta State University was named the 2018 Diversity Educator of the Year.

Dr. Helen Beatrice Barnes, physician, Professor Emerita of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and Co-Founder of the Primary Care Clinic at the Jackson Medical Mall, received the Karen Cummins Community Service Award. Last year, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to name the Community Service Award in memory of Trustee Cummins in recognition that her life epitomized what the award is all about, helping to improve Mississippi's communities with a welcoming and inclusive spirit.

“The Board of Trustees is honored to recognize Dr. Barnes and Ms. Johansen,” said Trustee Shane Hooper, Chair of the Board of Trustees' Diversity Committee. “They both use their talents and gifts to enrich the lives of others; their selfless service serves as a shining example for all of us.”

Born in Jackson, Dr. Helen Beatrice Barnes moved to New York City with her mother in 1938.  She attended Holy Providence Boarding School in Cornwell Heights, Pa., for elementary school and developed an interest in medicine while helping in the school's infirmary. Dr. Barnes attended St. Patrick's Old Cathedral School in New York City and went on to Hunter College, also in New York City, where she studied chemistry, biology and other sciences.

In 1958, Dr. Barnes earned her MD degree from Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C, and completed her residency in training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. She moved back to Mississippi in 1959 to work at the Greenwood Leflore Hospital, becoming one of the first African Americans to practice medicine in the state of Mississippi.  

Later, she practiced in Brooklyn, N.Y., working as a clinical assistant in the Department of OB/GYN at Brooklyn-Cumberland Medical Center. She then joined the faculty as an assistant professor at Tufts Medical School in Boston.

Dr. Barnes has demonstrated a commitment to improving health care for the economically disadvantaged in the Mississippi Delta, including her work at the Mound Bayou Community Hospital. She joined the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) faculty as an assistant professor of medicine in 1969; she served as Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and continued to devote herself to improving the health and lives of women in Mississippi until her retirement in 2003. 

After her retirement, Dr. Barnes' vision and passion to provide comprehensive health care for women led to the forming of the Primary Care Clinic for Women at the Jackson Medical Mall, which became the primary clinical site for the National Center for Excellence in Women's Health at UMMC.

Dr. Barnes' commitment to women's health is evident in her leadership roles throughout the state medical community, including serving as chairwoman for the Statewide Health Coordinating Council during the administrations of Governors William Winter and Bill Allain and serving on the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure during the administration of Governor Kirk Fordice. 

Her service has not gone unnoticed. Dr. Barnes was recognized as an outstanding citizen of Jackson with the 2013 Friendship Ball Award, honoring her work bringing the community together by promoting racial harmony and facilitating understanding. In 2017, she was honored for her work by The Group on Women in Medicine and Science with the inaugural Helen B. Barnes Diversity and Inclusion Award and inducted into the University of Mississippi Medical Center's Medical Hall of Fame.

Delta State University Adjunct History Instructor Michelle Johansen was named the 2018 Diversity Educator of the Year for her contributions to diversity and positive relations among all segments of Delta State University and the broader community. In addition to her work in the classroom, she also serves as the Quality Enhancement Plan Coordinator and the Study Abroad Coordinator.

She has integrated an intercultural communication skills curriculum into her own history classes, and institutionally, has worked diligently with faculty across all disciplines to incorporate intercultural modules into the freshman orientation course, general education curriculum, and upper-level courses in all majors; and

In her letter of nomination, Dr. Beverly M. Moon, Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies at Delta State University, summarizes Ms. Johansen's contributions by writing, “Ms. Johansen's involvement in various activities on campus goes beyond her duties of keeping others involved. Her volunteerism on campus and for professional organizations demonstrate her passion for civic responsibility.” 

Johansen serves the Winning the Race Conference as a member of WTR sustainability and campus engagement committees; the DSU Diversity Committee; the DSU Gender Studies Group; the American Association of University Women as a current member and as past president of DSU/Cleveland branch; and is a Mississippi Historical Society member.

Dr. Moon continued, “This involvement speaks to the many services that Ms. Johansen performs in the several roles she has taken on at Delta State University and as an active, concerned, and engaged community member.”

The Board honored faculty from each of Mississippi's public universities for advancing diversity at their institutions. These honorees include:

Dr. Babu Patlolla

Dean, School of Arts & Sciences

Alcorn State University

Dr. Robert E. Luckett, Jr.

Associate Professor of History and Director of the Margaret Walker Center for the Study of African-American Experience

Jackson State University

Dr. Linda T. Coats

Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, College of Education

Mississippi State University

Dr. Brittany S. Moore-Henderson

Community Outreach Veterinarian, MSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Mississippi State University

Division of Agriculture, Forestry and Veterinary Medicine

Dr. Dionne Fortenberry

Chair, Department of Sciences & Mathematics

Mississippi University for Women

Dr. Jiabo Liu

Associate Professor, Department of Criminal Justice

Mississippi Valley State University

Dr. RoSusan D. Bartee

Professor, Department of Leadership and Counselor Education

The University of Mississippi

Dr. Leandro Mena

Department Chair, Population Health Science

The University of Mississippi Medical Center

Dr. Chin-Nu Lin

Associate Professor, College of Nursing

The University of Southern Mississippi