Every year, Adelphi honors four exceptional employees with a President’s Award for Excellence and one employee with the President’s Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. According to President Christine M. Riordan, the honorees “have won the admiration of their peers and colleagues by providing an extraordinary level of service to the University, and working to advance our shared values and goals.”

Candidates are nominated by their colleagues, and these nominations are reviewed by committees that are representative of our community. After reviewing the nominations, the committee submits final nominees to the president.

We congratulate Adelphi’s 2022 President’s Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion honoree:

Schanica Pickens, Assistant Dean of Student Affairs, School of Social WorkShanica Pickens

Pickens has earned the 2022 Adelphi Presidential Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for her dedication to promoting diversity and multiculturalism at Adelphi. She is the third recipient of this award.

“I am honored and grateful for the recognition,” she said. “My work here tells a powerful story about my passion, service and ethical responsibility as a social worker in the pursuit of fostering diversity, equity and inclusion. It also gives me the opportunity to elevate the voices and lives of students.”

Over her 13 years at Adelphi, Pickens has worked her way up from director of student engagement and academic success to director of the Master of Social Work program to assistant dean of student affairs. Throughout, she has remained committed to providing resources for underserved students.

Committed to the Community

Lyudmila Bryzzheva, PhD, associate professor in the School of Education, first met Pickens in 2013 at the Undoing Racism workshop conducted by The People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond. “She stayed afterward to connect with presenters and meet with organizers,” Dr. Bryzzheva said. “It became clear to me then that Schanica has a powerful drive to participate in the work of advancing racial justice.”

Pickens went on to co-lead Conversations on Race with Dr. Bryzzheva and Laura Quiros, PhD, associate professor in the School of Social Work. Members of the Adelphi community—in some cases, more than 200—gathered to address racism, racial equity and how to promote institutional change. She advanced diversity, equity and inclusion by hiring the most diverse group of licensing advisers and instructors in the School of Social Work: More than 80 percent of advisers and instructors now identify as members of the BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) community. She also helped design an innovative social action project that is mandatory for all students in the School of Social Work. Last year, more than 500 students worked in small groups on impactful projects that earned media coverage, initiated community change and are being used in professional journals.

In the Spring 2022 semester, Pickens spearheaded BreaKING the Ice: Black Men’s Mental Health and Wellness Conference. “It is the first of its kind to be offered by any school of social work and truly embodies the change we would like to see in this world,” said Manoj Pardasani, PhD, dean of the School of Social Work.

Being of Service to All Students

“Social work ethics call for us to be mission-driven and to operate with the philosophy of giving back,” Pickens said. “As I consider my journey, I consider what can be done differently to support all students. That includes BSW students, PhD students and those from different departments.”

Pickens has organized multiple workshops and events, such as Social Work Is Voting; the Women, Power and Leadership Conference; and Building an Antiracism Practice. She serves on the Curriculum Committee, Reaccreditation Committee, Student Engagement Committee, Social Action Committee, and the Doctor of Social Work Exploratory Committee. She is also on the board of the New York City Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, which is the largest professional membership and advocacy organization for social workers.

“The energy, dedication and initiative that Schanica brings to her work demonstrate considerable support for our diversity, equity and inclusion goals,” said CarolAnn Daniel, PhD, professor of social work, “not only in the School of Social Work, but in the wider University community.”

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