I am proud to present one of this year’s All Together One Awards to an individual that has had a tremendous impact on the community that she so tirelessly serves. She has been described as, “a woman who builds community and makes a positive difference at JMU.” She has also been known by coworkers as a sports fanatic who you do not want to disturb during a game. She is an individual who inspires others through her commitment and service to students from diverse populations throughout Virginia and here at JMU. This individual, who deserves our recognition, is Dr. Oris Griffin.
Dr. Griffin is the Director of the Professor in Residence Program at JMU and is also the Professor in Residence at George Wythe High School. She increases fairness and diversity in education, working to improve conditions in high-need schools and to provide these students with an enriched and challenging curriculum. She provides support and guidance to students applying for college and in helping them receive financial aid. Dr. Griffin has overseen the growth of a program working in partnership with six high schools, four middle schools, and one elementary school. She works to increase the number of low-income students gaining acceptance into other universities as well as into JMU. Dr. Griffin is constantly on the road in order to reach students from different regions in Virginia and to provide them with equal opportunities for success. She far exceeds the expectations and requirements of the typical 9 - 5 job. A coworker states, “Her commitment to the students we work with is unsurpassed.” She is a valuable member of our community who generously serves racially and economically diverse youth throughout Virginia.
Students in the Professor in Residence partnership schools have many needs in comparison to students from more affluent school districts. Many of the students from these populations are at a disadvantage when applying for competitive colleges, and in turn are less likely to even apply. Dr. Griffin has increased the number of dual-enrollment courses and has helped provide supplies and resources for the schools that she works with. A co-worker states, “Whether in her position as faculty coordinator for the Professor in Residence program or working with Middle School students, Dr. Oris Griffin has demonstrated a passion that makes her the unique representative of JMU to our partner schools. She has been a dedicated representative of JMU in this manner and we are very proud for her award.” This enduring sense of commitment and dedication extends to all aspects of her life. She exercises religiously, and has been known to work-out even when she is sick.
Dr. Griffin creatively addresses the challenges that students from diverse populations face. She has hosted supply drives, alternative spring break trips for middle school students, and she has set up dual-enrollment classes at the students’ high school that could earn them JMU class credits. She was a driving force behind the establishment of Middle School Leadership Academy which hosts middle school students here at JMU each summer. She has collaborated with several JMU departments that can benefit the Professor in Residence schools. A co-worker says, “She is truly helping to change the face of our university, the community and the world, due to her understanding and dedication to students who may otherwise not have had a chance to pursue higher education.”
Dr. Griffin has made a profound impact on the lives of many students, helping them to realize their dreams and to work toward actualizing their academic goals. I am truly honored to present one of this year’s All Together One Awards, to Dr. Oris Griffin.