Why This Award?

We believe in recognizing, encouraging and rewarding outstanding leadership. The Nobel Peace Prize does this. At Duquesne University, we strive to be a model of recognizing and rewarding students for their racial justice leadership.

To nominate students, email Quincy%20Stephenson.

Winner Profiles and Selection Criteria

About Dr. Ron Swain

Winner Profiles and Selection Criteria

2024 Winners

Dr. Ron L. Swain with 2024 winners Jakobie Green and Lei'Asha Battle
Jakobie Green, Dr. Ron L. Swain and Lei'Asha Battle

Lei’Asha Battle, a junior Nursing major hailing from Sarasota, Fla., radiates vibrancy across campus. As the Founder and current President of the Art Club, she fosters creativity and self-expression among her peers. Simultaneously, Lei’Asha serves as the Event Coordinator for Ebony Women for Social Change, spearheading impactful initiatives that promote empowerment and social justice. Her dedication to fostering inclusivity extends to her role as a Student Representative on the Diversity & Inclusion Committee for the School of Nursing, where she advocates for equitable practices and diverse perspectives. Moreover, Lei’Asha’s intellectual prowess shines through her status as a published author with Cambridge Scholars, showcasing her scholarly contributions to academia. Complementing her academic and extracurricular endeavors, Lei’Asha interns for the Community Engagement Scholars program, channeling her passion for community service into tangible action. Lei’Asha’s dynamic involvement across various domains reflects her unwavering commitment to effecting positive change and leaving a lasting impact on her community.

Jakobie Green, a junior Finance major also from Sarasota, Fla., stands out for his unwavering commitment to both academic excellence and community engagement. He has carved a distinct path for himself through active involvement in numerous campus organizations, where he assumes influential leadership positions. Serving as the President of Collegiate 100 and the Executive Vice-President of the Black Student Union, Jakobie demonstrates exceptional leadership skills and a profound dedication to service. In these roles, Jakobie not only leads, but also inspires others to actively participate in community service endeavors. He finds deep fulfillment in fostering community involvement and positively impacting the lives of those around him. Jakobie’s core belief in the power of altruism drives his passion for empowering communities and contributing to their prosperity.

2023 Winner


Dr. Ron Swain with Duquesne 2023 award winner Eric Swain and DEI staff Quincy Stephenson and Amber Satterwhite
Quincy Stephenson, Amber Satterwhite, Dr. Ron Swain and Eric Swain Jr.

Eric Swain Jr. is a senior Marketing major from Marietta, Georgia. Eric is active in several campus organizations, serving as the current VP of Community Engagement for the Black Student Union and resident assistant for the Office of Residence Life. He is a Sister Thea Bowman Scholar. Through this scholar program, Eric is able to connect with other Black students who attend Catholic universities and go to workshops focused on Black identity and Catholicism.

2022 Winners


Dr. Ron Swain with Duquesne 2022 award winners
Cassie DiBenedetti, Dr. Ron Swain and Taylor Hopkins

Cassie DiBenedetti is a senior Data Science major from Augusta, Maine. Cassie is actively engaged in the Duquesne community, coordinating several events relating to Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) experiences. Cassie has collaborated with campus organizations such as Duquesne's Community-Engaged Teaching & Research, Center for Teaching Excellence, and Day of Learning and Speaking Out to lead student discussion panels that address challenges among AAPI students and promote inclusivity on campus.

Taylor Hopkins is originally from Woodbridge, VA but came to Pittsburgh to study in Duquesne's five-year Forensic Science and Law Master's program. She is currently a junior and minors in Spanish. Along with her studies, Taylor is heavily involved in her campus community as the President of the Black Student Union, a resident assistant in Assumption Hall, and a member of the inaugural School of Science and Engineering Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

Selection Criteria

  • 2.75 GPA Cumulative
  • Full-time student
  • Classification: Junior or Senior
  • Demonstrated growth and commitment to social justice leadership at Duquesne University
  • Commitment to the Spiritan principle of maintaining a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environments
  • Dedicated time and effort to the Center for Excellence in Diversity and Student Inclusion (The Center) programming initiatives
  • Authentic passion for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work through engagement, advocacy, and education

Selection Process

  • The Selection Committee reviews the SOQ and selects the Recipient.
  • The Committee consists of: the Center's Administrative Assistant, chairperson for the President's Diversity and Inclusion Council, a student leader, Dr. Ron L. Swain, and the Director for Diversity and Inclusion, who chairs the committee.
  • The RLS SJL Award will be presented at the Center's annual Spring Award reception.

Who is Dr. Ron Swain?

Dr. Ron Swain headshotDr. Ronald L. (Ron) Swain, BA'70; MEd '72 from Duquesne University, also earned the Doctor of Education Degree from The George Washington University in 1987. Dr. Swain's professional career spans four decades in higher education administration beginning in 1970 as Assistant Resident Director at Duquesne University and culminating as Senior Advisor to the President of Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas. Prior to joining the Presidential Team at Southwestern, Dr. Swain served as President of Wiley College, the oldest Historically Black College west of the Mississippi River.

Throughout his lifetime, Dr. Swain has been a leader and advocate for racial and social justice. A native of Macon, Georgia, Swain arrived at Duquesne in the fall of 1966. His involvement in student organizations, included the Duquesne Union, Student Congress, the Third Alternative, Residence Life, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. - Omicron Psi Chapter.

Following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968, Swain, as a junior, organized and coordinated a University/Community-wide Black/White Conference at Duquesne. This event brought together University leaders — administrators, faculty, and students along with Community leaders — from the Hill District, Homewood, and East Liberty to explore issues of local racial injustice. Out of this Conference and other activities of the time, an emphasis was placed on enrolling more African American students, offering African American-oriented courses, hiring black faculty members, and creating the Counseling and Learning Department for Black Students. In addition, there was a call to hire more African American workers at the College Hall construction site.

After earning his degrees at Duquesne, Swain embarked on a professional journey dedicated to enriching the educational opportunities for African American youth. In 1972, Swain continued his professional career at North Carolina State University in Raleigh. From there he moved to Shaw University, the oldest Historically Black College in the southeastern United States, where he rose through a series of key administrative positions, eventually serving as Vice President for Institutional Advancement and Planning. After planning and executing a major capital campaign at Shaw, he went on to serve as National Director to complete Campaign 2000 at the United Negro College Fund (UNCF). As an Educator, Dr. Swain has encouraged all his students, especially African Americans and other Students of Color, to aspire to and achieve their full potential.

Beyond his professional higher education endeavors, Dr. Swain has been a strong community builder and adheres to Dr. Martin L. King's concept of the "Beloved Community." Swain has provided leadership in areas of community building including affordable housing, economic development, job creation, and youth development. Most recently, after the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, Swain organized and convened the Courageous Conversations - Georgetown Movement with a mission "to promote a culture of justice and compassion in Georgetown for people of all races; and economic, religious and ethnic identities." The movement's current theme is based on the African Masai tribal greeting, Kasserian-ingera "and How are the children?" Swain says, "Working together, may ALL our children be well!"

Ron is married to the former Chrystle A. Bullock since 1973. They have an adult son, Ronald Jr. who lives in Beijing, China.