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Singletary lauded with namesake award from MVNU

MOUNT VERNON, Ohio (November 12, 2022) — Former Director of Intercultural Life, Jim Singletary, was presented the first ever James Singletary Diversity Award during a special tribute to his legacy during Mount Vernon Nazarene University’s Homecoming.

This award was created with the blessing of the Senior Leadership Team and the Diversity Committee to highlight people who embody and live the spirit and the legacy of Mr. Singletary.

“He directed the Office of Intercultural Life toward a new vision of diversity, equality, and belonging, and creating initiatives that will last beyond him. This award will honor those who reflect his commitment to hospitality; to celebrating all genders and nationalities, people, and cultures; engaging AIM students, women, students with accessibilities, and all others, and much more. Jim’s forte was developing collaborative, intentional relationships with faculty, staff and students of MVNU,” said Tavaris Taylor, Assistant Vice President for Intercultural Engagement and Learning.

Taylor, who replaced Singletary after his retirement in 2020, thanked Singletary for being the visionary who accepted the challenges and blessings of being first, especially being the first leader in the Church of the Nazarene educational system to take on diversity and inclusion.

“The challenge of being first is that you are first. Thus, you have to be the patriarch. You have to walk through the fire. You have to receive the insults. No one understands exactly what you’re doing, and why you are doing it, because you are going to be the first to do it,” Taylor said. “The blessing to being first is that because you are first, other people are able to walk behind doors you were never able to walk through. When I came here in 2020, I was not given an office, I was not given a chair, I was not given keys. I was given a gift. The gift that Jim gave me was because he was willing to be first, I will be able to go further.”

MVNU President Henry W. Spaulding II, Ph.D., called Singletary “a hero of faith,” a trusted advisor, and a pioneer in developing strong diversity and belonging programming within the Church of the Nazarene.

“What you’ve done here, the gift you’ve handed Tavaris, and given this University, is of incalculable worth. Every person you have impacted is an eternal being — created in the image of God, worthy of respect and honor — and you helped us to see that more clearly,” said Spaulding. “Thank you for your trust, and your investment in this university.”

Former students described him as caring, compassionate, an advocate, a father figure, a mentor, and a spiritual guide who engages in all areas of their lives and continues to do so.

Mount Vernon Mayor Matthew Starr presented a proclamation, via video, proclaiming Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022, as Jim Singletary Day in the City of Mount Vernon. The proclamation highlighted milestones in his career including recruiting 41 students of color in his first year as a recruiter; creating the Dwelling, a multicultural student center, in 2006; hosting nearly 400 events as Director of Intercultural Life; and being a founding member of the Knox Alliance for Racial Equality.

Singletary shared he tries to live up to the guidance of his mother, “Always leave people better than you found them.”

“All I can really do is to express gratitude for all of you, and many others, who believed in the words that I spoke and the life I tried to live before people,” he said. “I took that to heart when I started my career. My goal was any person, within the sound of my voice or that came in my office, I wanted to leave you better. In doing that, it made me better. I sleep soundly because I know I fulfilled the calling here at MVNU in the lives that were set before me.”

Mount Vernon Nazarene University is a private, four-year, intentionally Christian teaching university for traditional age students, graduate students, and working adults. With a 327-acre main campus in Mount Vernon, Ohio, MVNU emphasizes academic excellence, spiritual growth, and service to community and church. MVNU offers an affordable education both in-seat and online to nearly 2,000 students from 25 states and 11 foreign countries.