James L. Moore III earns American Council on Education Reginald Wilson Diversity in Leadership Award

headshot of James L. Moore III

James L. Moore III was awarded the American Council on Education’s Reginald Wilson Diversity in Leadership Award for demonstrating leadership and commitment on a national level to the advancement of racial and ethnic minorities and other underrepresented populations in higher education. Credit: Courtesy of Barbara A. Carter

James L. Moore III, Ohio State’s vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, said his younger siblings complained that his plaques, trophies and accolades took up all the wall space in their childhood home in South Carolina. 

When his family’s brick house was struck by lightning and burned up along with his family’s possessions, Moore said his mother, facing the loss of nearly everything, called to tell him she would try to get his awards and memorabilia back. He told her he would get her more. 

The American Council on Education recognized Moore with the Reginald Wilson Diversity in Leadership Award May 20, an accomplishment he said was only possible due to support from his family and diligent self-regulation. This award comes follows other achievements and milestones in Moore’s career as an African American academic, researcher and leader. 

“Moore has been a leading voice in higher education on issues of racism and equity,” Gailda Davis, senior director for the Learning & Engagement Division of the American Council on Education, said. “His contributions to the field of higher education and his ability to provide voice to the needs of so many students, particularly students of color, cannot be understated.”

Davis said Moore was nominated by colleagues, but the council knew Moore served as an ACE Fellow. The Reginald Wilson Diversity Leadership Award “honors individuals who have demonstrated leadership and commitment on a national level to the advancement of racial and ethnic minorities and other underrepresented populations in higher education,” according to the ACE website.

University President Kristina M. Johnson expressed her support of Moore and his work on Twitter, calling his award “a well-deserved recognition for one of Ohio State’s exceptional leaders.” Former Vice President and Provost Bruce McPheron also took to Twitter to congratulate Moore on receiving the award. 

Moore’s career at Ohio State began in 2002 and since then, he has climbed up the ranks. In addition to his position as vice provost for diversity and inclusion and chief diversity officer, Moore is a distinguished professor of urban education in the College of Education and Human Ecology, the first executive director of the Todd Anthony Bell National Resource Center on the African American Male and a mentor to graduate and doctoral students.

Moore said he has worked with many students both within the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and undergraduate programs dedicated to making college education accessible, including for those from diverse backgrounds. He said acquaintances and donors set up the Dr. James L. Moore III Scholars Program, an effort designed to help underrepresented transfer students from Columbus State Community College, according to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s website.

“Great minds come from every zip code. We get to work with every type of student,” Moore said. “We believe a college education is transformative, and it can outline a pathway for you. It can not only transform your life –– it can transform the life of people you care about.”

Despite his hefty resume and global recognition for his research on African American males, Moore said he was taken aback when ACE President Ted Mitchell called him an influential voice in American higher education around issues of race and inclusion. Moore said he thought, “Is he talking about me? The little boy from Lyman, South Carolina?”

Davis said Moore’s scholar-practitioner work in support of students of color, particularly Black males, has impacted the lives of countless students and served academia both nationally and internationally. 

“Throughout his career, he has not just illuminated challenges faced by students of color in academia, but has worked alongside campuses, schools and systems to identify solutions and new approaches to address identified issues,” Davis said.

Moore said he aims to be a leader that fosters and models continuous improvement, always asking how to be better than before. He said he wakes up by 4 a.m. every day and tracks annual goals he sets for himself, keeping a routine powered by self-management and a love for his job. 

“There’s a 100 percent chance that I won’t realize my dreams and aspirations if I don’t try. And I try. And out of that trying, it’s been a great ride,” Moore said. “I want to be consistent.”

Even with his strict routines and early wake-up times, Moore said other names could be added next to his on the award — expressing thanks for moments of teamwork in his career. Above all, he said, his parents’ “unwavering” and “vigilant” support for him from the beginning made everything possible.

“I was very blessed to have the parents I have to believe in unconditionally,” Moore said. “On some levels, I don’t really have a right to complain, because the ride has been great when you had a family like I had, who believed in me even when sometimes others didn’t.”

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