DIVERSITY EFFORTS EARN WILEY COMMERCE BANK PRESIDENTIAL AWARD
Zelia Wiley, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Agriculture, received the Commerce Bank Presidential Faculty and Staff Award for Distinguished Service to Historically Underrepresented Students. The honor comes with a plaque and $2,500.
She was honored at a reception on Jan. 25.
Increasing multicultural enrollment was one of Wiley's top assignments when she was hired by the College of Agriculture in 2003 to lead its new diversity programs office.
"I'm proud to say our multicultural numbers are up more than 150 percent since I joined K-State," Wiley said. According to figures from K-State's office of planning and analysis, the college's Hispanic enrollment has increased by 466 percent from 2003-2010, while the African-American enrollment increased 178 percent for the same period.
But Wiley said her job doesn't stop with recruiting more multicultural students to the College of Agriculture. She also helps these students find success as they transition from high school to college.
"I care. These students have names. We're not recruiting them to meet any quota," she said. "I see myself as a role model for them. As the first African-American administrator in the College of Agriculture, I've had to break several barriers. I'm trying to pave the way for students. What they go through in college, I go through on a professional basis.
"I truly believe I'm grooming them to take my place in academia or grooming them to go into the corporate world," Wiley said. "I want them to become a whole person and be productive when they leave K-State. I want them to be truly prepared to work in a multicultural world."
Wiley served as national president of Minorities in Agriculture, National Resources and Related Sciences in 2007, and she is currently adviser to the K-State student chapter. She is also a member of the K-State President's Commission on Multicultural Affairs and local chapter adviser to Alpha Kappa Alpha.
She earned a bachelor's in agricultural engineering and a master's in agricultural education and human resources from Prairie View A&M University and a doctorate in agricultural and extension education from Penn State University.