Burke and Powell Earn Inclusive Excellence Leadership Awards
April 10, 2020
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Meghan Burke and Adriane Powell have been named 2020 recipients
of the third annual Illinois Wesleyan University Inclusive Excellence Leadership Award.
The award recipients, announced virtually to campus on Friday, April 10, were nominated
by students, faculty and staff, and selected by The University Council for Diversity
An associate professor and the chair of sociology and anthropology, Burke co-developed
and directed Illinois Wesleyan’s Engaging Diversity pre-orientation program, a three-day
intensive program for incoming white students to deeply consider white privilege and
antiracism, to prepare them to work as partners for social and racial justice. She
also serves as a Posse mentor and facilitates community discussions regarding issues
of systemic inequality.
A student nominator wrote, “As one of her mentees for the past three years, her guidance
has provided a substantial change in my own identity and has developed the drive to
understand my past experiences and how they relate to my ability to create change.
Her support has given me the confidence to become a leader and provide my own ways
of creating inclusiveness among campus related issues that my passions align with.”
A colleague nominator said, “Dr. Burke is a tireless advocate for including students
and others who face marginalization in a variety of ways, dedicating her time and
energy, in particular, to students of color. Through conducting workshops at the school
on inclusion, both for faculty as well as students, serving on various elected and
volunteer committees, and advocating for students within the system, Dr. Burke has
dedicated her career to combatting the systemic racism found in education and other
Burke’s areas of specialty are social theory and race. Burke is the author of three
books: Racial Ambivalence in Diverse Communities: Whiteness and the Power of Color-Blind
Ideologies, about racially diverse neighborhoods in Chicago; Race, Gender, and Class in the Tea Party: What the Movement Reflects about Mainstream
Ideologies; and most recently, Colorblind Racism.
Burke earned a bachelor’s in sociology from Grand Valley State University, and a master’s
and Ph.D. in sociology from Loyola University Chicago. She joined Illinois Wesleyan’s
faculty in the fall of 2009.
Illinois Wesleyan’s Director of Alumni Engagement, Powell collaborates with colleagues
in and across the University to create and maintain pathways for alumni participation
that advance the goals of the University. Powell works closely with the IWU Women’s
Council, the Pride Alumni Community, and the Minority Alumni Network.
A nominator wrote, “Adriane is a connector in the true sense of the word, and is inclusive
in her thinking, work and honoring of people’s skills, abilities and limitations.
She is adept at bringing together diverse groups within the cohorts she is working
with, and is able to coordinate, build consensus, and delegate while also shouldering
tasks, encouraging and honoring the work of others and moving projects forward.”
The nomination continued, “Asking critical questions about who has been included and
excluded, providing space for individuals to share experiences that can be rooted
in sadness and hurt, helping us all to hear, understand and validate other realities
of IWU and to invite folks back to our broader community while challenging and modeling
how to make space for all, Adriane leads by example.”
Powell earned a bachelor’s in philosophy from Illinois State University. She joined
the staff at Illinois Wesleyan in February of 2010 and was promoted to Director of
Alumni Engagement in November of 2014.
About the Inclusive Excellence Leadership Award
The Inclusive Excellence Leadership Award – presented to a faculty member and staff
member annually – is intended to recognize outstanding contributions made by individuals
that champion diversity, inclusion, and sustained commitment at Illinois Wesleyan
University. The Inclusive Excellence Leadership Award is intended to recognize the
commitment of Illinois Wesleyan faculty and staff who have made exceptional efforts
in celebrating diversity and demonstrating a commitment to advancing inclusion to
create a safe and supportive community.
Awardees display understanding of the dynamic issues surrounding the intersectionality
of race, gender, gender identity, ethnicity, religious heritage, national origin,
socioeconomic status, disability, and sexual orientation. Past winners include: Assistant
Professor of Nursing Wendy Kooken and Senior Administrative Assistant to the Provost
Sharla Brown-Ajayi in 2018, and Assistant Professor of Nursing Amanda Hopkins and
Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Brandon Common in 2019.
Alumni, students, staff and faculty will once again be invited to submit nominations
next year. The University Council for Diversity (UCD) and the previous recipient of
the award will select awardees based on submitted nominations.
By John Twork