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Kansas State University
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Manhattan, KS 66506
785-532-2535
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Sources: Zelia Wiley, 785-532-5793, zwiley@k-state.edu;
and Sam Brinton, sbrinton@k-state.edu
Pronouncer: Zelia is Zee-ah
Photos available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535.
News release prepared by: Beth Bohn, 785-532-2535, bbohn@k-state.edu

Monday, Jan. 24, 2011

DIVERSITY EFFORTS EARN BRINTON, WILEY COMMERCE BANK PRESIDENTIAL AWARDS

MANHATTAN -- Samuel Brinton and Zelia Wiley share a common goal: enhancing diversity at Kansas State University so all students feel welcome and have the opportunity to succeed.

Brinton is active in making the K-State campus more inclusive, while Wiley helps underrepresented students get the most from their K-State education. For their efforts, they are receiving Commerce Bank Presidential Awards.

Brinton, senior in mechanical engineering-nuclear option and vocal music performance, Manhattan, is winner of the Commerce Bank Presidential Student Award for Enhancing Multiculturalism. The honor includes a plaque and $500.

Wiley, assistant dean for diversity in the College of Agriculture, is receiving the Commerce Bank Presidential Faculty and Staff Award for Distinguished Service to Historically Underrepresented Students. The honor comes with a plaque and $2,500.

They both will be honored at a reception from 3:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 25, at the K-State Alumni Center.

Brinton has been active locally and nationally as an advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered students. He's been president of K-State's LGBTQ&More/LGBT&Allies student organization since 2009, and is a member and acting secretary of Delta Lambda Phi progressive fraternity. He served on the planning committee for K-State's LGBT Resource Center and worked with K-State student government to get funding for a center coordinator. He's organized volunteers to attend a march for gay rights in Washington, D.C., and to help at an AIDS clinic in Dallas. Brinton makes presentations on topics dealing with lesbian, gay, transgendered and bisexual issues to classes and campus and community organizations, and he worked in support of a more inclusive anti-discrimination ordinance for the city of Manhattan.

For his advocacy efforts, Brinton just received the National Voice and Action Leadership Award from Campus Pride, which also named him one of its Top 12 Leaders in Action. Brinton is the son of Stephen and Peggy Jo Brinton, Perry, Iowa.

"I'm truly honored to receive this award," Brinton said. "Kansas State University has been an amazing place where I've learned who I am and what I can do. I may be known for working to make LGBT students' lives better at K-State, but I must emphasize that differences come in many forms, and each of them make us special and unique. I want K-State to be a place where each student feels respected for who they are and who they want to become."

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.