Benson selected as first diversity fellow in CLA
Elizabeth Ann Benson, from the Department of Theatre and Dance, has been selected as the first diversity fellow in the College of Liberal Arts, or CLA.
CLA launched the Diversity Fellow Program to identify and select one faculty member or graduate student each fall and spring to aid and support the efforts of the CLA diversity committee. The diversity fellow is responsible for establishing and maintaining strong connections with faculty, staff, students, and other community members with a focus on furthering diversity, equity and inclusion within the College, and generating ideas that create long-term changes.
Benson’s fellowship project will be to establish and direct a faculty mentorship program with a focus on equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging, or EDIB. Mentees would have the option to seek mentors with similar backgrounds and similar diversity traits, regardless of discipline.
“This initiative was launched to empower our faculty and graduate students, alongside our diversity committee. I am especially happy to see a project that is quite crucial and relevant in these challenging times. I trust Dr. Benson’s commitment and excellence will shine through,” said Giovanna Summerfield, associate dean for educational affairs in CLA.
Benson, associate professor of theatre, was recently featured in Voice and Speech Review for her co-written article "Practicing Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Singing Voice Studio." Her current research program examines issues of equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging in collegiate musical theatre programs and within the voice studio. She is the music theatre singing specialist for the Department of Theatre and Dance. She teaches applied voice for music theatre majors, and a group course in singing fundamentals. Since 2014, she has served as music director and/or vocal director in several departmental productions, including The Integration of Tuskegee High School, Chicago, Bring it On, and Spring Awakening. She has been a livestream guest speaker with national and international organizations including the Grammy Awards MusiCares Program, Vocology in Practice, A Voice and Beyond, Voice Essentials, VoiceLessons.Com, and the SpeakEasy Cooperative. Benson currently directs mentorship programs for the National Association of Teachers of Singing, or NATS, and the Music Theatre Educators' Alliance, or MTEA.
Fellows are expected to complete a project to be shared with the campus community through CLA diversity committee’s facilitation, attend an intro meeting with the diversity committee, one or two progress meetings, as needed, and a final presentation at the CLA diversity symposium in November.
Submitted by: Victoria Santos