By Rob Garcia
In an announcement at the Pacific West Conference end-of-season meetings, Academy of Art University was selected as the recipient of the 2019 PacWest Diversity Award for the Urban Knights’ efforts toward inclusion within the university community.
The PacWest Diversity Award is given to an institution that through its community engagement activities shows a commitment to diversity and inclusivity by creation/sponsoring/participating in programming that embraces and celebrates those within the University’s community who are underrepresented. Further, the Diversity Award goes to the institution whose student-athletes are integrated into the student body as a whole.
“Receiving the PacWest Diversity Award highlights how we achieve diversity in our department and campus community,” said Head Women’s Basketball Coach/Senior Woman Administrator Krystle Evans. “It also shines a light on our inclusive campus environment. At ART U, we place great emphasis on diversity and pay great attention to how to inculcate diversity into the overall cultural fiber of our athletics department and campus community. Inclusion does not mean you bring into the circle only those people who look and think like you, rather it necessitates that you make a deliberate effort to celebrate and embrace differences.”
For the 2018-19 academic year, Academy of Art focused on strengthening the community within its unique urban campus in the heart of San Francisco. The athletics department and student-athletes wanted to continue building pride and unity through the involvement of campus and community groups in events.
ART U student-athletes were found on both the performance and production sides of collaboration projects such as “Academy’s Got Talent,” an “American Idol”-inspired competition, within the School of Communications & Media Technologies. Joining their peers in Spring Show, a special end-of-year showcase of the top student work, Urban Knights were well represented in the celebration of achievements from all who make up the only art school in the NCAA. Beyond their work in the classroom, Academy of Art Athletics reciprocated the community aspect with various promotional events that appealed to the student body surrounding gamedays.
Holy Names and Point Loma won the inaugural Diversity Award in 2013 followed by ART U’s first in 2014 then Azusa Pacific (2015), UH Hilo (2016), and Hawaii Pacific (2017, 2018).