Joy Gaston Gayles, Ph.D., a professor of higher education at the NC State College of Education, was selected as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Creating Community Award for Outstanding Faculty at the Recognizing Excellence in Diversity (RED) Event held virtually on April 22, 2020.
The annual RED Event honors outstanding NC State faculty, staff, colleges, students and student organizations that have made exceptional efforts and contributions in the areas of equity, diversity and inclusion. The Outstanding Faculty award recognizes individuals who have demonstrated excellence in the incorporation of diversity and inclusion in their teaching, research, service and collaboration.
“It was a really great feeling to receive this award,” Gayles said. “Diversity and inclusion inform everything that I do as a professor and a researcher. I consider myself to be a catalyst for institutional change and this award speaks directly to this important part of my professional identity.”
Gayles was nominated for the award by Alumni Distinguished Graduate Professor Alyssa Rockenbach, Ph.D., and Professor Jessica DeCuir-Gunby, Ph.D., who cited her “distinguished career of excellence in teaching, research and service.”
Gayles has co-authored Advancing Higher Education Research on Undergraduate Women in STEM, conducted National Science Foundation-funded research studying early-career engineering faculty of color. She has also served on the advisory board for a major NSF-funded grant out of UCLA entitled Building Recruiting and Inclusion for Diversity (BRAID) in the Computer Science Major.
One of the achievements mentioned in the nomination letter is her work in forming the Agraphia writing accountability group with several College of Education faculty. This project is one Gayles said she is most proud of because, over the past seven years, it has evolved to help support and mentor new tenure-track faculty within the college. In addition, she has worked with the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD), traveling to more than 30 college campuses across the United States to improve mentoring and faculty success, particularly for underrepresented faculty.
Gayles said she is passionate about issues of diversity and inclusion because she understands the barriers that some students and faculty face and how those barriers can negatively impact their academic work and sense of belonging. As a first-generation college student herself, Gayles said she knows what it feels like to have limited access to resources, support and opportunities to succeed.
“As a professor who prepares graduate students to work in postsecondary settings, it is important for our graduates to be able to work with all people effectively and serve students from diverse backgrounds. Therefore, making sure that issues of diversity and inclusion are infused through the courses we teach is really important,” she said.