App State awards 4 grants in support of diversity, equity and inclusion research

By Megan Bruffy
Tuesday, March 23, 2021

BOONE, N.C. — Appalachian State University’s Office of Research awarded four faculty teams with a 2020 Scholarship of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant. These grants — up to $2,500 each and funded by the Office of Research in 2020 — support research projects that explore issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion.

The selected projects range from developing a mentoring program for Black and Latinx students in App State’s Dr. Wiley F. Smith Department of Psychology, to identifying changes needed to better recruit and retain underrepresented students in the university’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders.

The grants were formally established during the 2018–19 academic year and 13 have been awarded to date.

“These grants empower and encourage App State faculty to engage in scholarship surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion,” said Dr. Willie Fleming, App State’s chief diversity officer. “Focused research on these critical issues gives our campus — and the broader educational community — tangible data and innovative ideas to continue to move toward inclusive excellence.”

About the Scholarship of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant

The Office of Research annually awards these grants. The submitted proposals are evaluated by a standing panel of faculty and staff with expertise in various fields and are based on the following criteria:

  • Scientific/scholarly/creative merit.
  • Appropriate preparation and planning.
  • Alignment with program purpose.
  • Potential for additional external support.

Recipients are required to share their findings with the App State campus community and present their research at a regional, national or international conference and/or publish a peer-reviewed article in a journal of their choosing.

Faculty are required to include App State students as active participants in their projects.

About the 2020 Scholarship of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Grant projects

“Does a Social Work Education Prepare White Students to Recognize Privilege and Oppression?”

Two faculty members in App State’s Department of Social Work will compare the awareness of oppression and privilege among declared App State social work majors as they begin the program and social work majors in their final semester of fieldwork.

Project collaborators:

“The interaction effects of gender and race on faculty salaries at two University of North Carolina System institutions”

Dr. Lynette Holman, associate professor of journalism in App State’s Department of Communication, will, in consultation with Carolina Public Press, analyze data and investigate interactions between gender and racial/ethnicity factors and subsequent base pay for UNC System faculty. Holman has also served as an Honors College thesis director.

“Developing a Mentoring Program for Psychology Majors Who Are Students of Color”

Six faculty members in App State’s Department of Psychology will conduct focus groups for Black and Latinx psychology majors at App State to ascertain their ideas regarding mentoring in psychology. Their findings will inform the development and implementation of a mentoring program for students of color.

Project collaborators:

“Recruiting and retaining underrepresented students in Communication Sciences and Disorders: A community-based participatory research approach”

Two faculty members and an undergraduate student in App State’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) will survey speech-language pathologists and audiologists who identify as racial and ethnic minorities in order to determine important changes CSD programs could make to recruit and retain more students who identify as racial or ethnic minorities. They will also create a community-based participatory research team focused on increasing diversity in communication sciences and disorders.

Project collaborators:

  • Dr. Joseph Klein, associate professor of speech language pathology. Klein has served as an Honors College thesis director.
  • Dr. Jennifer Buff, associate professor of speech language pathology and undergraduate program director. Buff has served as an Honors College thesis director and second reader.
  • Zykkiah Silver, a junior Honors College student and an App State Chancellor’s Scholar from Charlotte who is majoring in communication sciences and disorders.

The application portal for the 2021 Scholarship of Diversity Equity and Inclusion grant will be open from August to October. Award decisions will be made before the end of October, and all applicants will be notified of their award status before early November.

About the Office of Research

Appalachian State University’s Office of Research provides support for the research, creative, and scholarly endeavors of Appalachian faculty, staff and students. The office consists of five units: Grants Resources and Services, Sponsored Programs, Research Design and Analysis, and Research Protections. The Office of Research also collaborates with the university’s Special Funds Accounting on the fiscal management of awarded projects. Learn more at

About Diversity and Inclusion at Appalachian

Appalachian State University is committed to developing and allocating resources to the fundamental task of creating a diverse campus culture. We value diversity as the expression of human similarities and differences, as well as the importance of a living and learning environment conducive to knowledge, respect, acceptance, understanding and global awareness. Learn more at

About Appalachian State University

As the premier public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 20,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.