Cleveland, Ohio – The Mid-American Conference (MAC) announced today the first-ever individual award winners for achievements in diversity & inclusion with the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Administrator and Student-Athlete awards.
Kathy Twist, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration and Senior Woman Administrator for the University at Buffalo and the late Dennis Corbin, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Medical Services at Western Michigan, before his passing on March 7, 2018, were named co-winners of the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Administrator Award. Buffalo senior track & field student-athlete Devon Patterson was named winner of the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Student-Athlete Award.
"It is an honor to recognize Kathy Twist, the late Dennis Corbin and Devon Patterson for their outstanding leadership and commitment to prioritizing and advancing diversity and inclusion programs across our campuses," said MAC Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher.
"On behalf of the University at Buffalo and our amazing team and student-athletes here in the Division of Athletics, we're very honored and humbled to receive the inaugural MAC Diversity and Inclusion Institutional Award and to have Kathy Twist and Devon Patterson recognized," said Buffalo Director of Athletics Mark Alnutt. "This is a true testament of our institution's commitment and subsequent action to these very important values. We will strive to continue to be a recognized leader in the MAC and beyond in concepts diversity and inclusion as this will strengthen our institution."
Twist has served the University at Buffalo Athletics Department as a leader and mentor to administrators, coaches and student-athletes by fostering an unrelenting commitment to diversity and inclusion excellence. She has implemented strategic partnerships on campus and within the community, which includes the Office of Inclusive Excellence, which houses equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives. With her leadership, the Buffalo athletics department has engaged in conversation about freedom of expression, social issues and political beliefs.
"It is an honor to be the co-recipient of the 2018 MAC Diversity and inclusion Administrator Award," said Kathy Twist, Senior Associate Athletic Director for Sports Administration and Senior Woman Administrator for the University at Buffalo. "The MAC has received national attention for our unique programs and initiatives that allow us to reach our collective greatness by embracing diversity and inclusion. On behalf of my student-athletes, co-workers and MAC colleagues, I accept this honor with appreciation and gratitude for the important work we do together on diversity and inclusion."
Twist serves as a member of the University's Diversity & Inclusion, and Mental Health committees, while also an active member of committees for Transgender, Climate and Culture, Violence Prevention and Wellness. Twist works to create a culture to encourage and promote inclusion in all aspects of the athletic department, campus and the greater Western New York community. Twist also serves on the Intercollegiate Athletics Board as Chair of the Gender Committee, Chair of the National Girls and Women in Sports Day, and Chair for Buffalo's #SpiritDay initiative.
Corbin supervised Western Michigan's athletics training and strength and conditioning staffs for 36 years, helped shape the lives of many generations with his contributions to University culture and his impact in mentoring many student-athletes, coaches and administrators. Corbin battled cancer and suffered a fatal stroke on March 7, 2018.
"Dennis' most rewarding experiences were associated with the mentoring and positive impact he was able to have on the well-being of thousands of student-athletes across four decades," said Western Michigan Director of Athletics Kathy Beauregard. "He gave 36 years shaping the lives of generations of Broncos for life. His dedication to Western Michigan and our Broncos is embedded in our University culture forever."
Corbin served on Western Michigan's Council for Institutional Diversity and Multiculturalism back in 2004 to establish a university-wide Diversity and Multicultural Action Plan that was adopted in June, 2006. He continued to represent the athletics department as a member of the Campus Climate for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Tactical Action Committee and participated on the University-wide Diversity Council and the Diversity Council Steering Committee.
Patterson, a native of Williamsville, N.Y., is pursuing a degree in African American Studies and has demonstrated strong leadership with educational activities and programming on campus and within the Conference to promote a culture of inclusion. Patterson served the 2017-18 season as the Vice President of the MAC's Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC) and was elected President for the 2018-19 academic year.
Patterson was invited to participate in the 2017 NCAA Student-Athlete Leadership Forum in Washington, DC, while also participating in the University at Buffalo open forum for the entire student body – freedom of speech in college athletics and issues of speech and expression in sports. He also presented at the MAC Diversity & Inclusion Summit and Buffalo's inaugural Inclusive Excellence Summit.
In November of 2016, the MAC announced one of the most comprehensive Diversity & Inclusion Programs in Division I intercollegiate athletics to begin during the 2017-18 academic year.
The MAC Diversity & Inclusion Program has positioned the MAC as a leader within collegiate athletics. Through this program, the MAC is working to expand opportunities for minority candidates in coaching and administration with six specific and coordinated program initiatives.
These six initiatives include: establishing a Conference Diversity & Inclusion Statement, the commitment of 25 new annual internships across membership, a collaborative mentoring program, a bi-annual summit, the first of which was hosted by the MAC on Feb. 8, 2018, the creation of a resource webpage and the annual awards platform to recognize one institutional athletic department, administrator and student-athlete.
The MAC Diversity & Inclusion program provides career educational opportunities for a diverse pool of candidates, career entry and advancement opportunities, consistent support and career mentoring programs for all levels of professionals, and opportunities for collaboration on best hiring practices and cultural enhancements.
In the Fall of 2015, MAC Commissioner Jon Steinbrecher instituted a 15-member working group comprised of university administrators, senior athletic administrators and faculty athletic representatives to present to MAC membership recommendations for a comprehensive diversity & inclusion program. Steinbrecher charged the working group with: "Taking a solution-oriented leadership role in accelerating and growing the pool of minority candidates for collegiate job opportunities in coaching and administration."