The Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars is honoring LaVerne Gyant, director of the NIU Center for Black Studies, for her many contributions to international education.
Gyant has been selected as the sole recipient of the 2014 Yvonne Captain Faculty Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Education. She will accept the award later this week at the honor society’s annual conference in Houston.
Gyant is the fourth NIU faculty member to win the annual national award in recent years. Former political science professor Christopher Jones won the honor in 2013, history professor J.D. Bowers in 2012 and anthropology professor Susan Russell in 2009.
A professor of Counseling, Adult and Higher Education, Gyant has served for a decade as the inspirational and guiding force behind NIU’s study abroad program in Ghana.
After leading the program in 2011, she is now working with history professor Ismael Montana to lead the program again this coming summer: It will address the history of U.S. slavery as seen from Ghana, from which so many slave-trading ships departed.
“In part due to Dr. Gyant’s continued championing of this program in Ghana, NIU demonstrates a high rate of participation in study abroad by students of color,” said Deborah Pierce, associate vice president for International Affairs. Pierce nominated Gyant for the award.
As director of the Center for Black Studies, Gyant holds a permanent appointment to the U.S. Student Fulbright Committee at NIU, where she helps review students’ essays and proposals each year. She serves as a facilitator for various international training programs at NIU and regularly presents talks during the annual Philippine Youth Leadership Program on campus.
Gyant is increasingly interested in the understanding of African and African-American Studies in the global context.
She has considered black studies from the Latino and Latin American perspective, an issue of growing importance in the Chicago suburban region. She also volunteered in rural Kenya at the Jane Adeny Memorial School (JAMS) for Girls, founded by NIU professor Teresa Wasonga, and has presented on the experience in a professional research conference.
Additionally, Gyant served on the original organizing committee for the Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Beta Delta at NIU, and she is a chapter past president.
“Dr. Gyant demands that all international educators at NIU achieve excellence and that we maintain inclusive perspectives and practices,” Pierce said, “because all of our students and colleagues deserve the opportunity to acquire and benefit from global understanding.”