Black aerospace professionals group receives diversity award

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Photo of WMU airplanes.

The College of Aviation recognizes organizations annually for fostering diversity.

KALAMAZOO — Western Michigan University’s College of Aviation has selected the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals—OBAP—as the 2013 recipient of the WMU College of Aviation Excellence in Diversity Award. The award was presented Wednesday, April 3, at the University's annual program to recognize diversity achievements.

OBAP was nominated and selected for providing support through mentorship and guidance to the students of the Multicultural Association of Aviation Professionals, a registered student organization at WMU. In addition to the support provided to students in that organization, OBAP and the college have enjoyed a strong partnership since 1998, primarily through work performed in support of the Historically Black Colleges and University Aviation Consortium. In September 2011, FedEx Express and OBAP joined together to present a Boeing 727-200 to the College of Aviation in an effort to support outreach efforts and training for aviation students.

"The partnership we enjoy with OBAP is crucial to the efforts made by both organizations to attract and retain students from diverse backgrounds who will become successful aviation professionals," says David Powell, dean of the College of Aviation. "I cannot think of a more deserving partner for this award and am pleased we are able to recognize them formally.”

Working with the University's Office of Diversity and Inclusion, students in the aviation multicultural group conceived the college diversity award last year to honor people or organizations who demonstrate a significant impact on diversity in aviation; show commitment to community service on a consistent basis; positively impact the students, faculty and staff; contribute to the engagement of youth coming into the aviation industry; and have professionalism that maintains the integrity, character, morale and service of the aviation industry.

About the Organization of Black Aerospace Professionals

OBAP is a nonprofit organization founded in 1976 to enhance, advance and promote educational opportunities in aviation. From the outset OBAP has focused its greatest emphasis on preparing young people to realize a successful future and highlight the exciting potential available in aviation. The existence of an aviation-oriented group representing African-American and minority concerns was neither new nor unique. Years earlier the Tuskegee Airmen Inc. and Black Wings in Aviation had been formed with similar goals and both continue to be active today. OBAP's unique approach to the concept was to build on the progress in the military and general aviation arenas by expanding the cause within the airline industry.