Mississippi University for Women has announced Dr. Catherine Cotton as the recipient of The W’s Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award. She will be honored alongside faculty from each of Mississippi’s public universities Feb. 16 at the annual Diversity and Inclusion Awards ceremony of the Mississippi Board of Trustees of the State Institutions of Higher Learning in Jackson.

Dr. Catherine Cotton

“Dr. Cotton’s intentional work to foster discussion, insight and growth in the realm of diversity, equity and inclusion – in addition to her academic and clinical instruction, is preparing our students to better serve their clients and better advance inclusivity and equity within their spheres of influence in the State of Mississippi,” said University President Nora Miller

Cotton, assistant professor of speech language pathology, consistently co-leads first-year speech-language pathology graduate students and faculty members through discussions surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion related topics. Students and faculty regularly reflect upon selected articles, videos and questions geared toward connecting the monthly topic with personal and professional interactions, as it relates to current and future clients and colleagues. The monthly discussions allow students to view experiences through the lenses of their classmates, peers and current and potentially future clients.

Cotton explained, “We are working with people. There will be similarities, but when those differences occur, it is not because the family is disobedient or difficult; it could be due to cultural differences, socioeconomic status differences, or a lack of experiences. When we look at it from that viewpoint, and then try to understand, then we can get our goals met because we’re treating them as a person who might have some different experiences.”

Cotton joined The W as an instructor of speech language pathology in the fall of 2021. She belongs to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the National Black Association for Speech-Language-Hearing (NBASLH).

Cotton holds a doctorate in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She received her master’s degree in communication disorders and bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology from Marshall University.

“I have seen many significant moments of growth and insight occur among our students as they hear their classmates voice different and even opposite perspectives as they react to information presented. I have directly witnessed our students gain knowledge, understanding, and then appreciation of different variations of all variables addressed in our DEI meetings,” said Dr. Hunter Manasco, professor of speech­ language pathology and undergraduate program coordinator.

Annually, the university awards a faculty or staff member the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award for their efforts to enhance diversity, promote cultural diversity and cultivate an inclusive campus community in teaching, service or leadership. Nominations are received by the Council for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Jan. 17, 2023
Tyler Wheat

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Located in historic Columbus, Mississippi, The W was founded in 1884 as the first state-supported college for women in the United States. Today, the university is home to 2,227 students in more than 70 majors and concentrations and has educated men for 40 years. The university is nationally recognized for low student debt, diversity and social mobility which empowers students to BE BOLD.

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