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OBrien USM Recipient of IHL Diversity Award

Mon, 04/15/2019 - 11:26am | By: David Tisdale

Dr. Thomas O'Brien

Dr. Thomas O'Brien, a professor in The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) School of Education, is USM's recipient of the State Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) 2019 Diversity Award for Excellence. The selection of Dr. O'Brien for this honor was based on the breadth of his teaching and publication record, and range and duration of his community service projects demonstrating a lifelong commitment to diversity and inclusion.

A mentor for numerous young scholars studying opportunities for and obstacles to diversity and inclusion, Dr. O'Brien's own research on race, class and gender has led to more than 50 journal articles, two books, and more than 100 conference presentations. He is the author of The Politics of Race and Schooling: Public Education in Georgia, 1900-1961, and co-editor of Bridging Theory and Practice in Teacher Education.

Dr. O'Brien is currently leading a public history research collaboration between Hattiesburg High School (HHS) and USM, as well as working in collaboration with graduates of L.J. Rowan Class of 1968, Hattiesburg's former all-Black public high school, who are writing a 50th anniversary memoir about coming of age in a small segregated city. He serves on the executive committee of the Forrest County Chapter of the NAACP, and on the leadership team with the Forrest County Coalition to Reduce Juvenile Recidivism.

"What an honor it is to be recognized," Dr. O'Brien said. "I am grateful that USM encourages its faculty to engage in rich, meaningful service to the greater Hattiesburg community."

Among other honors and research support, Dr. O'Brien has earned teaching awards at four different universities, a Fulbright Visitors Scholarship to the Republic of Chile, and two Spencer Foundation grant awards.