Jackson State director for the Center for University-Based Development, Heather Wilcox is the recipient of the Institutions of Higher Learning (IHL) Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award.
“I feel honored to have been selected for this award, says Wilcox. Working in the areas of community engagement and development are my passion and I would do it without any recognition but being recognized for my work is very rewarding.”
The award recognizes a faculty or staff member who has displayed positive advancement of diversity on campus and within the University community. Each IHL university including the University of Mississippi Medical Center and the Mississippi State University Division of Agriculture, Forestry, and Veterinary Medicine are expected to submit one nomination every year for the award.
Heather was nominated by President Bynum for her unmatched efforts of giving back and bringing diversity, equality and inclusion matters to the forefront in the community.
“I am so grateful that Dr. Bynum and my vice president Veronica Cohen thought enough of my efforts to nominate me for this award,” says Wilcox. “Both leaders play a vital role in being a strong foundation for our dear old college home.”
Additionally, Wilcox has acquired several grants to enhance the West Jackson community, including the start of “The Little Free Libraries of West Jackson,” and the “Blackburn Middle School Learning Garden” to promote healthy living among the students and their families.
She is also known for her love of research and historic preservation, geographic information system (GIS), economic and community development in the U.S. and other developing countries.
For years, Wilcox diligently worked on the Mount Olive Cemetery project to ensure its preservation. In 2017, she assisted with the efforts to get Mt. Olive added to the National Register of Historic Places. Wilcox has worked tirelessly to complete Phase 1 of the Mt. Olive project, which included publishing a research book and restoring the Jim Hill and Ida Revels Redmond statues. As a result of her work on this project, Wilcox has won three awards, 2018 Mississippi Heritage Trust Award for African-American Preservation for Mt. Olive Cemetery; 2018 National Trust for Historic Preservation Diversity Scholar for the Past Forward Conference and 2019 Mississippi Historical Society Award of Merit for Mt. Olive Cemetery Project.
Wilcox was recognized for the Excellence in Diversity and Inclusion Award during the IHL Board meeting last week.