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Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Earl B. Higgins Award

The Office of Student Diversity proudly hosts the Earl B. Higgins Achievement in Diversity Award annually. The award is presented to an employee and a student in recognition of exemplary strides/contributions in promoting diversity.  A presentation and reception are held on the first Wednesday of April every year in  honor of the nominees and award recipients. Also honored on this occasion are six students nominated by their Dean to receive the Earl B. Higgins Scholarship.

First presented in April 1996, this award has become an annual event at the Medical University of S.C.  The award is a tribute to the late Dr. Earl B. Higgins, former director of affirmative action and minority affairs at MUSC. Dr. Higgins was born 1946 and passed away on August 30, 1992.

During his four-year tenure at MUSC, Dr. Higgins was a warrior for recruitment, retention, and enrichment programs that increased representation of minority students in all programs at MUSC. He also worked diligently to recruit minority faculty members and to ensure equal opportunities for all employees. He served as a mediator in race relations and gender issues.  Dr. Higgins seized opportunities to promote a harmonious learning and work environment for all and built bridges between the university and the community it serves.
Until 2005, the criteria for the award favored individuals at senior administrative levels and/or in larger university departments or units. In the spring of 2006, the selection committee adjusted the criteria to make sure that potentially deserving individuals at each and every level of the university and authority would receive equal consideration for their good works in promoting and influencing diversity.  Additionally, the committee agreed to honor and acknowledge the achievements of students promoting and influencing diversity and presented the first student leadership in diversity award on April 5, 2006.

Former Employee Recipients:

Joanne M. Conroy, M.D. (1996), Anne O. Kilpatrick, D.P.A.(1997), Sabra C. Slaughter, Ph.D. (1998), Layton MuCurdy, M.D. (1999), Jerry Blackwell, Ph.D. (2000), Thomas D. Waldrep (2001), Florence Maria Simmons, R.N. (2002), Raymond S. Greenberg, M.D., Ph.D. (2003), John Franklin (2004), Michael A. deArellano, Ph.D. (2005), Cynthia Cupit-Swenson, Ph.D. (2006), Jerry Reves, M. D. (2007), Liz Sheridan (2008), John Feussner, M.D. (2009), Deborah Deas, M.D. (2010), Carolyn H. Jenkins, DrPH (2011), Leonie Gordon, MD (2012), Etta D. Pisano, MD (2013), Ms. Deborah C. Williamson, SHA, MSN, CNM (2014), Cynthia Wright, Ph.D. (2015)

Former Student Recipients:

Alexander Whitley, Ph.D. (2006), Aaron Embry, MS (2007), Dachelle Johnson (2008), Christanne Hoffman, M.D. (2009), Ryan Rhome (2010), Kelly Lambright (2011), Mary Alice Hughes, CDM (2012), Brandon J. Hagan, CDM (2013), Brittany Watson, COM (2014), Brandi White, CHP (2015)

Click here to view photos of current recipients.

Selection/Nomination Criteria

The selection committee solicits nominations for individual employees of MUSC who have made a significant and positive contribution to campus diversity in three of the following five areas:

  • Student/employee recruitment, retention, enrichment and/or relations
  • Improvement/enhancement of diversity through excellence in service to patients, families, visitors
  • Advancements in areas of diversity, including race relations, gender issues, disabled, aging, and international constituencies
  • Recognizes and takes initiative to act upon potential opportunities to significantly affect/influence the organization/work environment around diversity
  • Promotes improvements in the understanding of the benefits of diversity within MUSC and the community

Nomination Deadline

For more information contact the Office of the University Chief Diversity Officer at 792-1072 or stop by Darby Children’s Research Institute (CRI) suite 104 A/B. You may also email Cody Henderson,

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