Waddell makes diversity everyone's job

Whether they have worked with Barbara Waddell for four years or 20, her colleagues are unanimous: she embodies the qualities celebrated by the Michael R. Ferrari Award: innovation and initiative, superlative performance, and strong relationship with the University community. Further, she has been a true change agent in transforming the campus climate.

Waddell, chief equity and diversity officer, was named this year's recipient of the Ferrari Award, the highest honor for administrative staff. Presented at the annual Administrative Staff Council Spring Reception, the award was accompanied by $1,000 and a reserved parking spot for one year. In addition, her name will be added to a commemorative plaque in the Jerome Library. Waddell was not able to attend the ceremony.

"Barbara is most deserving of this award as she has made excellent strides in making BGSU a campus that promotes equality and fosters an inclusive, diverse learning environment," said Dr. Sidney Childs, assistant vice president for student affairs and director of Access Diversity Programs.

"To accomplish these tremendous tasks requires someone who has the ability to develop effective relationships within the BGSU community. In her role as the chief equity and diversity officer, she effectively assists faculty, staff and students address issues of harassment, racism and discrimination. Through her strong sense of commitment and purpose to diversity work, many throughout the campus community have a greater understanding on the importance and great need to be a member of a community that embraces the myriad forms of difference."

Childs has worked with Waddell for nearly 20 years in a number of capacities, including serving on committees such as the Administrative Staff Council Equal Opportunity Compliance Committee, BG Building Community committee, the Hiring Efficiency and Effectiveness Task Force, for which she was a co-sponsor and, most recently, the President's Advisory Council for Diversity and Inclusion, for which she serves as chair.

"As a University leader she models the behavior and approach for others to follow," Childs said. "With a kind and unassuming manner, she firmly upholds the principles of equity and fairness at BGSU. She is someone with a big heart for students and her colleagues."

Another longtime colleague, Dr. Nancy Orel, associate dean of the College of Health and Human Services, wrote, "I have witnessed Barbara's incredible work ethic and her tremendous ability to take the initiative to handle various issues in a highly professional manner. Barbara has the keen ability to deflect tension and provide a quietly supportive professional attitude in meetings."

Although the issues she often has to deal with in her position can be uncomfortable, Waddell "is able to respond to difficult and complex problems in innovative, creative, and caring ways," Orel said. "For example, I have relied on Barbara's expertise on seemingly difficult situations, and she always provides well-thought-out guidance and genuine support. She creates a culture of respect, and her caring disposition enables her to develop rapport and trust with everyone she meets and works with.

"In her position as chief equity and diversity officer, she is responsible for monitoring institutional employment practices and procedures, as well as investigating and resolving discrimination and harassment complaints. In this role, Barbara has exemplified a level of commitment and professionalism that serves as a model for others."

A much more recent colleague, Dr. Tobias Spears, assistant director for LGBT Programs in the Office of Multicultural Affairs, has known Waddell for four years. "We met at the National Coalition Building Institute, a program Barbara helped co-sponsor with the Office of Multicultural Affairs," Spears remembered. "Barbara greeted me and welcomed me to campus, telling me that she'd heard lots about me. From this initial conversation Barbara demonstrated to me a loving and caring spirit, a sense of intentionality around issues related to inclusion, and the stance of a leader who privileged integrity, professionalism, and rigor. Barbara and I have since grown into great colleagues. She is someone that challenges me and holds me accountable to doing great work for students, faculty, and staff here at the university.

"While Barbara is a stellar administrator who has climbed the ranks here at BGSU, interpersonally she is an amazing advocate and resource. Sitting on committees with her is a joy, and always a good time filled with learning. Barbara makes doing diversity work everyone's job. She eschews stuffiness and has the ability to ensure all voices are heard and makes her constituents feel like they are part of the discourse. Moreover, while I have only known her for four years, she has impacted not only the work that I do but the way I do the work."

Orel summed up, "Barbara demonstrates a keen ability to be a transformational leader and she is the epitome of what the Dr. Michael R. Ferrari Award represents. I am quite certain of her commitment and passion for BGSU and I know her to have a nurturing and encouraging spirit."

Updated: 12/02/2017 12:44AM