IES Award


Inclusive Excellence in STEM (IES) Award


The Inclusive Excellence in STEM Award (IES) is intended to recognize distinguished and exceptional faculty, staff, and students who have shown exemplary efforts to promote inclusion and diversity.  Each semester, the Office of Inclusion, Equity and Diversity (OIED) recognizes a faculty/staff member and a student who have demonstrated tremendous leadership in advancing the University’s mission to build a more diverse and inclusive climate within COSAM. All full-time faculty, staff, and students are eligible. Examples by which recipients may demonstrate commitment to OIED’s mission include: work with student organizations that value the importance of inclusion, efforts that support recruitment as well as retention of diverse populations in STEM, research that expands the understanding of inclusivity, and community outreach activities.
The award will recognize accomplishments that impact in the following areas:
  • Advocated for an environment in STEM that is welcoming of everyone regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, gender, religion, ability, etc.
  • Contributed to raising awareness about inclusion, equity, and diversity issues on Auburn’s campus or beyond.
  • Made a significant impact on the Auburn community regarding the OIED’s mission for diversity and inclusion.
  • Fostered equity of opportunities for success.
  • Excelled in educating students from traditionally underrepresented groups within STEM.
  • Acquired new knowledge and/or work that enhances understanding of traditionally underrepresented groups within STEM or has the capability to improve the quality of life among diverse populations.
  • Organized or participated in initiatives/activities that promote the social, academic, and professional development of traditionally underrepresented groups within STEM.

The winner of the Fall 2019 Inclusive Excellence in STEM Faculty Award is Dr. Beth Yarbrough, and the Fall 2019 Inclusive Excellence in STEM Student Award winner is Hayleigh Hallam! 


To get a deeper understanding of how they conceptualize diversity and inclusion, we asked our winners a few questions on the subject. Their answers are as follows.


1) What is your definition of diversity?

Dr. Yarbrough: The multitude of human experience that makes life together richer, more interesting, and more beautiful.

Hayleigh Hallam: I define diversity as the recognition of one’s unique combination of personal identities and lived experiences. By understanding and valuing these aspects of a person, an enriching and inclusive atmosphere can be established in every environment.
2) How have your experiences and background prepared you to be effective in COSAM with your diversity value?
Dr. Yarbrough: Mark Twain said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness,” and for me that has certainly been true.  I have traveled to six continents and have experienced many different cultures, people, and approaches to being human.  No matter how far away I am, we all have much in common and much to learn from each other.  But you don’t have to go across the world to find people who have different perspectives and worldviews.  All these folks are in Alabama, too.
Hayleigh Hallam: As a traditionally underrepresented, first-generation college student who grew up in a single-parent, lower-income household, my pathway to getting to Auburn was not always the easiest. However, I have always been fortunate enough to have a family that celebrates how we are all capable and deserving of anything we set our minds to and work hard for. I believe these experiences encouraged me to seek out students in COSAM with similar backgrounds, so that we could all support and encourage each other to accomplish all that we can during our time here. By building each other up through our shared experiences, we are able gain the confidence we need to be positive additions to our classrooms, organizations, and future careers.
3) What do you see as the most challenging aspect of a diverse working environment? What steps have you taken to meet this challenge?
Dr. Yarbrough: I hope diverse environments are always challenging. If they aren’t, then we aren’t open to learning from them. It is tough to really examine your own blindspots. I may have a very different opinion or belief, but I can understand that others’ beliefs are as important to them as mine are to me. That’s how respect and solidarity are forged. Not by agreement on every point.
Hayleigh Hallam:  I believe that the most challenging part of being in a diverse working environment is making sure that every person is included and heard. It is easy to equate simply being present in a room with actively claiming space in the room. The diverse thoughts and attributes that you have mean nothing unless they are spoken into existence and incorporated into the conversation. To meet this challenge, I always try my best to encourage the participation of others into whatever dialogue, so that myself and the rest of the room are able to gain their insight. I think that this is crucial for one’s thoughts to hold value, and for a person to feel as if they are an asset in the environment that they are present in.
4) What is your vision for COSAM as we work toward fully embracing inclusion, equity, and diversity?
Dr. Yarbrough: COSAM has shown outstanding commitment to inclusion.  I love working with the OIED to provide our students opportunities to explore their own worldviews and their relationships with others.  Often our students have been raised with such privilege (and by that I mean if you have a roof, clothes, clean water, and steady access to food, that’s privilege) that they haven’t considered the advantages they have and how to use those advantages to support others.  A focus on under-represented groups is critical and well-deserved, but I am excited about opportunities to help those students who have so much learn to use those advantages for the greatest good.
Hayleigh Hallam: I hope that COSAM continues to work on expanding the definition of “diversity” to its students. I believe that students do not always understand what the word truly means, and therefore do not recognize that their personal experiences, not just their physical identities, are what make them diverse. I wish that one day all COSAM students will be affirmed in the fact that their presence in the college holds value, and that their unique attributes are what make our student profile one of the most enriching and special bodies on Auburn’s campus.
Dr. Beth Yarbrough
Hayleigh Hallam