Camille O’Bryant, an associate dean in Cal Poly’s College of Science and Mathematics and a strong advocate for inclusion and equity efforts for underrepresented students, is the inaugural recipient of the campus Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award.
O’Bryant, who is also a kinesiology professor, received the honor on January 16. The award salutes a campus community member who upholds the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. by leading with love and hope to create a legacy of diversity, equity and inclusion.
“Camille is a tireless advocate for our students and a staunch supporter of their success, both academic and personal,” said Dean Wendt, dean of the College of Science and Mathematics. “I’m incredibly proud that Camille is a member of our college. She daily helps us become a better community.”
O’Bryant joined the faculty at Cal Poly in 1999, and her efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on campus have been a focus of her teaching, scholarship and service to the campus and local community.
She serves as chair of the college’s Inclusion and Equity Committee, a group of faculty and staff who focus on addressing policies and practices that are barriers to student success. She is also the co-founder and a moving force behind the university’s Love, Empathy, Respect campaign, a grassroots initiative designed to reinforce to students that the university remains an inclusive community.
“I am truly honored and humbled to be the recipient of the MLK Legacy Award,” O’Bryant said. “I stand on the shoulders of many who fought and continue to fight for social justice, inclusion and equity. It is a blessing and privilege to work alongside all the students, faculty, staff and community members who share a vision of an inclusive and diverse campus where we all have opportunities to succeed.”
In her two decades at Cal Poly, O’Bryant has served as chair of the Kinesiology Department and vice chair of the Academic Senate, among other positions.
The Atascadero resident is one of the first BEACoN Mentors on campus, a group that advocates for students from underrepresented backgrounds, giving them the knowledge and tools to succeed at Cal Poly.
Advocacy continues to be a priority for O’Bryant. The steady stream of students filling her office, many of them on academic probation or struggling in other ways, receive academic and administrative expertise as well as emotional support and encouragement.
“Camille inspires me every day with the loving way she challenges the status quo,” said Bryan Hubain, assistant dean of students and director of the Cross Cultural Centers, who presented the award on behalf of the centers. “I am in awe of her passion and commitment to our campus.”
O’Bryant’s commitment to service and leadership extends beyond the university. She is the alumnae trustee at Massachusetts’ Smith College, one of the largest private women’s colleges in the nation and her undergraduate alma mater. She has served as president of the National Association for Kinesiology in Higher Education (NAKHE) and the Western Society for Physical Education of College Women. In 2016, she was named a NAKHE Fellow for being an acknowledged leader in the field of kinesiology and providing outstanding service to the professional organization.
Her many additional honors include the Cal Poly Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014 and the 2015 E.B. Henderson Award from the Society of Health and Physical Educators America, which recognizes those who have increased the involvement of ethnic minorities and/or underserved populations in health and physical education.