University of New Orleans President John Nicklow is one of five individuals recognized as Champions of Diversity and Inclusion by the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee. The honorees are selected for their work in supporting ethnic minorities and other underrepresented groups and individuals.
The honor was created in 2015 to recognize those who have a commitment to advocating for and advancing others in inclusive efforts around athletics. In addition to Nicklow, the other honorees are Tommy Amaker, Harvard men’s basketball coach; Jen Fry, community supporter with JenFryTalks; Allen Green, Auburn athletics director; and Jacqie McWilliams, commissioner of the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association.
Individuals were nominated based on how they are influencers in promoting diversity and inclusion, how they are assisting in diversifying pipeline opportunities in their senior or influential position, how they are providing support to underrepresented populations, and their consistency in supporting diversity and inclusion initiatives.
“I am incredibly humbled by this recognition. I am grateful to the NCAA, and I congratulate my fellow honorees,” Nicklow said. “I share this honor with members of the University of New Orleans team. This is a reflection of our campus community’s collective efforts to ensure that diversity, equity and inclusion are more than just something we talk about—it’s something we value and that we live each day. As I tell students frequently, some of the most important lessons I’ve learned throughout my life are from those who are different from me. Diversity brings new ideas, cultures and experiences to the table to create better outcomes and solutions for us all.”
Nicklow, who became President at UNO in 2016, has led an effort to make the campus community more diverse and has focused on transformative actions to help students feel more welcome. He and his staff have improved hiring practices and conducted climate surveys and listening sessions to discuss key issues and bridge gaps. In addition to employing a chief diversity officer, the University also hired a diversity officer focused specifically on students. Nicklow created the President’s Award for Advancement in Diversity and has built new community partnerships that focus on equity and access.
“As we move through this challenging time in our country’s history, the committee wanted to recognize five people who lead from different seats within and around college athletics,” said Dena Freeman-Patton, chair of the NCAA Minority Opportunities and Interests Committee and deputy athletics director/chief operating officer at the University of New Orleans. “They have been champions for diversity and inclusion throughout their careers and continue to do what is right in 2021. They have been inspirations to our student-athletes and administrators in athletics, and they play a big part in molding our industry and our country. MOIC applauds them for their intentions and bravery in such unprecedented times. Leading with conviction and courage moves us all to a better place in athletics and certainly as we look to the future.”
The winners will be formally recognized at the 2021 Inclusion Forum, which will be held virtually June 2-4. To read the NCAA’s full announcement, click here.