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Thorington Springer, Multicultural Teaching Community Given Taylor Awards

Jennifer Thorington Springer
Jennifer Thorington Springer Kathleen Grove (left) and Khadija Khaja
Kathleen Grove (left) and Khadija Khaja


March 10, 2010

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Jennifer Thorington Springer, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, and the Multicultural Teaching Community of Practice, are, respectively, individual and program recipients of 2010 Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Awards.

Taylor awards are given in honor of the late Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The award recognizes individuals, events, activities and campus programs that have contributed to various aspects of diversity on the IUPUI campus.

Chancellor Charles Bantz presented this year’s awards at the 21st Annual Joseph Taylor Symposium held Feb. 25, 2010, at the IUPUI Campus Center.

Individual winner Thorington Springer is considered a campus leader in curricular and co-curricular transformation for the promotion of diversity. She has been called “one of this institution’s strongest advocates for excellence in diversity.” Her efforts have involved participation in various activities sponsored by the English department, the School of Liberal Arts, and campuswide multicultural programs and services, including the Olanyian Scholars Program, the Committee on African and African American Studies and the Millennium Seminar in Black Studies and Women’s Studies.

Thorington Springer is also a member of the Multicultural Teaching Community of Practice, the program recipients of the 2010 Taylor award.

At the Taylor Symposium luncheon, Khadija Khaja, Ph.D., of the School of Social Work at IUPUI, and Kathleen Grove, J.D., director of the IUPUI Office of Women, accepted the Taylor Award on behalf of the Multicultural Teaching Community of Practice (MTCOP).

Khaja and Grove serve as co-chairs of the MTCOP. Other committee members are: Thorington Springer; Stephanie Boys, Ph.D., School of Social Work; Carolyn Gentle-Genitty, Ph.D., Social Work; Ivette Barbosa, MSW, Social Work; Gina Sanchez Gibau, School of Liberal Arts (anthropology); Najja Modibo, Ph.D., Liberal Arts; Silvia Bigatti, Ph.D., School of Science (psychology); Marva Augustine, doctoral candidate; Dawn Whitehead, Ph.D., School of Education, International Affairs and Leslie Ashburn-Nardos, Ph.D., Science (psychology).

Members of MTCOP, organized and facilitated by the Center for Teaching and Learning, have displayed a passionate energy to facilitate building teaching and learning communities that incorporate an inclusive classroom atmosphere. The committee has also developed training on multicultural teaching and conducted research on how curriculum content can be taught in a multicultural sensitive manner.

For example, MTCOP conducted an interdisciplinary survey that revealed that IUPUI faculty members perceived barriers to teaching from a multicultural pedagogy as including time constraints, student defensiveness, lack of multicultural teaching resources, and faculty lack of confidence and knowledge about multicultural teaching, to name a few. Once the committee understood the barriers to teaching from a multicultural pedagogy, members put together different presentations to address those issues.

- Rob Schneider contributed to this story.