Women's History Month: Rosalyn Davis

Putting in the work to be an example to students and peers

Dr. Rosalyn Davis, clinical assistant professor of psychology, wears many hats at IU Kokomo. Of course, there’s her teaching, where she integrates diversity into her curriculum, but she also serves as a mentor for students and is heavily involved in many of the diversity efforts on campus, leading to her nomination for the Chancellor’s Diversity Excellence Award in the 2016-17 academic year.

In one instance, Davis taught a course on diversity at IU Kokomo, focusing on multicultural issues, counseling values, and cross-cultural interactions, in which she tries to make students aware of biases. The first time she taught the class, she gave her students the project of being diversity experts by working in groups to support an initiative to increase its diversity messaging and outreach.

The students decided to support their LGBTQ peers on campus by creating a flyer with various scholarships, resources, and groups that LGBTQ students might want to be aware of, donating the materials to the IU Kokomo Student Life office. They also took it a step further, relaunching the then-disbanded campus Gay/Straight Alliance, now named Spectrum.

“When I teach, I make a habit of trying to incorporate a lot of different perspectives on why something may exist the way it does, what opportunities or lack of opportunities may be present for different communities or different groups of people to get to what we have information-wise now, and to encourage students to look beyond the initial source of information they receive something from because there’s usually a back story that they are not looking into because the first story does what it’s supposed to do, elicit emotions from them,” said Davis.

Davis shares her own experiences as an underrepresented minority in higher education and the community, something that has endeared her to the students who seek out her guidance. Whether it’s through her work with the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS), the American Psychological Association’s Division 17, or the African American women who see her as a role model who looks like them, Davis has given guidance to students who have questions about graduate school, are looking for research experience, want to know about the process of getting into academia, how to counsel diverse clients and a slew of other subjects.

Using her voice to help IU Kokomo in its quest to continue improving its campus climate is another thing Davis is passionate about, which is why she’s a frequent attendee at academic conferences, bringing back innovative practices she can share with her colleagues. Between contributing to the campus diversity plan, serving as the affirmative action liaison for the IU Kokomo faculty senate, leading the charge on issues like faculty diversity, and sitting on several committees, it’s clear that she is determined to help IU Kokomo reach its potential when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

“I think the campus has made a big effort to make sure we’re looking at things more broadly, in terms of how we’re looking at it, who we’re impacting, and what we’re doing. People are willing to listen. They are thinking about how to network with the community in different ways. I think we’re making better inroads to the community,” said Davis.

“People are willing to admit that they haven’t done everything well in the past and that is a big first step, because it’s at least acknowledging where there have been shortcomings and that’s a big piece of pushing forward.”