Marist Education Professor Wins Prestigious Student Affairs Diversity Award for Her Work on Pre-College Program

Christina Fields

March 9, 2018 — Congratulations go out to Dr. Christina Wright Fields, Professional Lecturer of Education and Clinical Fellow for Community Partnerships, who has been recognized by one of the leading organizations for student affairs professionals in higher education. NASPA selected Dr. Wright Fields as the recipient for its annual Region II Distinguished Excellence in Diversity​ Award, honoring her for her work on the Balfour Pre-College Academy at the Indiana University (IU) Bloomington’s School of Education. Part of the Balfour Scholars Program, the Balfour Pre-College Academy offers rising high school seniors from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to spend a week living and learning at IU, where they participate in informational sessions and activities to develop their ability to make informed and personalized decisions regarding collegiate and career paths. Students also attend daily classes and workshops while exploring cultural identity and career development with IU faculty and staff. Outside of class, participants engage in reflection exercises and attend social events. Dr. Wright Fields will be recognized at the NASPA Annual Convention in Philadelphia in March and will formally receive the award at NASPA’s Region II Annual Conference in New York City in June. 

Since joining the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences in April 2016, Dr. Wright Fields has developed and regularly teaches the course “Diversity in Public Education.” She also works closely with the Beacon City School District on a program called LEAD Scholars, whose goal is to recruit high school students to teacher education. LEAD is an acronym for Lead, Educate, Aspire, Diversify. “Students come from diverse backgrounds, bringing a wealth of experiences and knowledge to the classroom, thus as educators we must incorporate meaningful approaches to student engagement while fostering and supporting welcoming and inclusive environments,” Wright Fields said. “Supporting a social-justice minded education encourages students to not only learn how to engage in critical topics, but also allows them to understand how to approach and impact their community as well.”  

Deborah Gatins, Dean of the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences, notes the significant positive impact Dr. Wright Fields and her work have had. According to Dean Gatins, “In the short time she has been with us, Christina has merged seamlessly into the School of Social & Behavioral Sciences’ mission of creating a more inclusive community and exploring innovative ways to enhance educational opportunities for underprivileged and underrepresented populations. We are delighted to have her as part of our team.”  Dr. Wright Fields’ research and teaching interests relate to student academic access and success, comprising five inter-related aspects: 1) student access and success; 2) college-going cultures; 3) culturally relevant pedagogy; 4) campus collaborations; and 5) cultural identity development. Dr. Wright Fields received a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Bowling Green State University.


NASPA is the leading association for the student affairs profession, serving a full range of higher education professionals who provide programs, experiences, and services that cultivate student learning and success. Established in 1918, it is comprised of more than 15,000 members in all 50 states, 25 countries, and eight U.S. territories. The Distinguished Excellence in Diversity Award is given annually to an individual who has displayed a significant commitment to diversity, resulting in a more inclusive and equitable campus environment. Award recipients embody a commitment to celebrating, appreciating, and accepting diverse backgrounds, values, and beliefs and have shown leadership in the fight against inequities and injustice.  

About Marist 

Located on the banks of the historic Hudson River and at its Florence, Italy branch campus, Marist College is a comprehensive, independent institution grounded in the liberal arts. Its mission is to “help students develop the intellect, character, and skills required for enlightened, ethical, and productive lives in the global community of the 21st century.” Marist is consistently recognized for excellence by The Princeton Review (Colleges That Create Futures and The Best 381 Colleges), U.S. News & World Report (9th Best Regional University/North), Kiplinger’s Personal Finance (“Best College Values”), and others. Though now independent, Marist remains committed to the ideals handed down from its founders, the Marist Brothers: excellence in education, a sense of community, and a commitment to service. Marist educates approximately 5,000 traditional-age undergraduate students and 1,400 adult and graduate students in 47 undergraduate majors and 14 graduate programs, including fully online MBA, MPA, MS, and MA degrees.