PEMBROKE — An award that recognizes a person’s devotion to mankind was given recently to a member of The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s staff.
Robert Canida, UNCP’s director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion, was named the 2017 recipient of the Erskine B. Bowles Staff Service Award for the UNC System.
The award is given annually to a staff member who has shown exemplary understanding, empathy, and devotion to mankind and whose accomplishments are consistent with the goals exemplified by Bowles during his tenure as UNC president.
He was honored during a recent awards ceremony on campus and will be the special guest during a reception on Friday at the home of UNC President Margaret Spellings.
“Just the honor of being nominated and having a staff member think that much of me is wonderful,” Canida said. “Not that we work for the state or an institution to be recognized, but when someone notices the service that you have given, it makes you feel good.”
Anne Coleman, a longtime colleague, said he is dedicated to supporting and nurturing all students.
“He creates a very inclusive environment for all our students,” Coleman said. “His services are not ruled by the 8-to-5 clock, rather they are dictated by student needs.
“He is creative and inclusive, always being open to new ideas or activities for our students and always reaching out to collaborate with diverse partners in the public schools, in the communities, and local businesses.”
Since joining UNCP in 1995, Canida has made it his mission to foster inclusion campuswide.
Canida has been long recognized as an agent of change. He established the Social Justice Symposium, which is in its 11th year, and is the brainchild behind the Diversity Committee for Communities of Interest.
Abdul Ghaffar, a fellow colleague, said he can’t think of anyone more deserving of the award.
“Robert is honest, committed and loyal to UNCP. He has a great deal of respect for our students and passion to help their experiences at UNCP be positive and memorable,” Ghaffar said.