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News Release

Jan. 19, 2024

Annual peace brunch honors three with Commitment to Diversity Awards

Northwest Missouri State University’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion concluded its Celebration Week commemorating the work of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on Friday with its 13th annual MLK Peace Brunch and honored three employees for their efforts to foster an inclusive environment on the campus and in the community.

Dr. Lance Tatum (photos by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

Dr. Lance Tatum (photos by Lauren Adams/Northwest Missouri State University)

“Today really is an opportunity for us to celebrate – not only the concepts and conversation around unity but also peace and then to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther Jr.,” Northwest President Dr. Lance Tatum said during introductory remarks.

Tatum, who resided in Montgomery, Alabama, before assuming the Northwest presidency in June, recounted the significance of the city in the Civil Rights Movement while commending the brunch’s honorees and expressing appreciation for the diverse backgrounds, thoughts and experiences students bring to the Northwest campus.

“It is diversity that enriches our experiences and broadens our perspectives and strengthens the very fabric of our institution,” Tatum said. “So today we stand together as a testimony to our shared belief and power of standing as one. As we recognize that by creating an environment that embraces our differences and encourages dialogue, we pave the way forward for understanding, respect and progress.”

During the presentation of its Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion Awards, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion recognized Troy Katen, deputy athletics director; Dr. Debra Brown, an assistant professor of music; and Dr. Clarence Green, the University’s vice president of culture and chief of police.

Left to right are Dr. Clarence Green, Troy Katen and Dr. Debra Brown

Left to right are Dr. Clarence Green, Troy Katen and Dr. Debra Brown

Katen received recognition for his engagement with Northwest’s diversity and inclusion efforts and regular participation in activities offered by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion. He also attends events hosted by the Missouri Association of Blacks in Higher Education.

“He has made an effort to invite marginalized faculty and staff to lunch to have conversations referencing issues impacting those different from him,” his nominator wrote. “He has intentionally built a sense of belonging for those faculty and staff. He has invited all to athletic events and has ensured they have a positive experience. … Mr. Katen serves on various committees and teams throughout campus. He has challenged existing processes and policies and has become a drum major for change.”  

Brown was honored for her efforts to support inclusive excellence in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts.

“She is always so level-headed and is great with students, staff and faculty,” her nominator wrote. “In her American pop music class, she makes sure that all genres of music are studied. She also allows students to bring any type of music, including uncensored. In her music education class, she has the class research common children’s folk music to make sure they understand what it might really mean and that it is historically appropriate in today’s world. She worked to transform her curriculum to be more inclusive of underrepresented populations.”

Green was recognized for his long-standing impacts on the campus culture and his support of students and employees.

“His commitment to diversity and inclusion during his time at Northwest has left an enormous footprint on campus,” his nominator wrote. “Dr. Green has invested time, money and energy into enhancing the retention and graduation of students of color at Northwest. Whether it be a cookout at his house for students, faculty and staff of color, being an advisor for both the Black Student Union and Alianza, assisting in starting Minority Men’s Organization or even investing monies to help students of color with their tuition, Dr. Green has shown a clear commitment to students of color and he embodies the Northwest mantra of ‘every student – every day.’”

Dr. Leslie Doyle

Dr. Leslie Doyle

The peace brunch also featured a keynote address by Northwest alumna Dr. Leslie Doyle. Adding to her 20 years of leadership experience in diversity and inclusion efforts in the higher education environment, Doyle is the founder of Doyle Legacy Consulting and specializes in diversity strategy management, team and individual leadership development, and belonging and engagement.

On Friday, Doyle discussed the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) initiatives in higher education and reflected on the historical ways DEI initiatives on college campuses have provided disenfranchised groups with opportunities to succeed. Student activism, Doyle noted, galvanized the Civil Rights Movement, and she called for students to keep DEI efforts at the forefront.

“Many colleges and universities affirm what data shows – that DEI efforts generate higher enrollment, matriculation and success rates,” Doyle said. “DEI is for students with disabilities, women, dreamers, people of color and even veterans with PTSD. DEI helps more students achieve success via college education and not just those that are disenfranchised. Research shows that college students exposed to more diversity have greater levels of cultural awareness and political participation. In short, higher education needs DEI.”

Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Week events at Northwest are sponsored by Northwest’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. For more information, visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215