An ACE in hand
Dr. Lavern Holyfield, assistant dean for diversity and faculty development and clinical professor of comprehensive dentistry, was recently awarded a 2021 Accountability, Climate and Equity (ACE) Award, more specifically the Diversity Advocacy and Change Award, by the Texas A&M University Student Government Association Diversity Commission.
The ACE Awards honor faculty, staff and students for their commitment to one of Texas A&M’s core values: respect. Awardees who are nominated for the Diversity Advocacy and Change Award must meet specific parameters, including creating a notable diversity-related change on their campus through such achievements as organizational reform or training, innovative research or legislation, among others.
Holyfield says the award was particularly significant to her because of the 20 years she has invested in improving the climate at the College of Dentistry, “service performed out of passion and the awareness of a need, not because it was expected of me or because it was in my job description.”
“I am most grateful for the opportunity to have collaborated with faculty and staff to develop lessons in cultural competency for every level of the pipeline and for all College of Dentistry students, in addition to training for full-time employees,” she says. “Establishing and implementing the plan to foster diversity and inclusion within the college is particularly gratifying.”
Dr. Paul Dechow, Regents Professor and associate dean for academic affairs, helped nominate her for the award and has had a front-row seat to the goals set and programs implemented by Holyfield over the years.
“I have worked with Dr. Holyfield for many years on inclusion, diversity and equity issues,” he says. “She has always kept a laser-like focus on accomplishing our goals to improve our college, the field of dentistry and oral health care for all. I am so proud of her and proud to have helped her all these years as she has shown us the way to a better future. But we know, as she would tell us, that the journey is just beginning.”
Holyfield’s endeavors have garnered numerous other awards recently for the college, including a 2021 Gies Award for Vision – Academic Dental Institution, the 2020 Health Professions Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award and 2020 STEM Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, and multiple Texas A&M University President’s Council on Climate and Diversity awards for the work of the College of Dentistry’s Committee on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access, which she founded and chairs. The ACE Award honors her personally for her work that led to these institutional accolades.
The ACE Awards are made possible by the Division of Student Affairs, Office for Diversity, Department of Multicultural Services, Disability Resources, Women’s Resource Center, Aggie Allies, LGBTQ+ Pride Center, Health Promotion, and Student Government Association Diversity Commission.