Since 1995, Valparaiso University has presented its Martin Luther King Jr. Award to individuals and groups within the Valpo community who have made significant and lasting contributions to creating an environment where diversity is honored and respected on campus and beyond.

During the annual MLK Celebration Convocation Service on Jan. 16, the 2017 Martin Luther King Jr. Award was presented to Professors Heath Carter and Faisal Kutty for their efforts to promote racial and religious equality throughout the Valparaiso community and Northwest Indiana.

Heath Carter is an assistant professor of history at Valparaiso University, and for the 2016–2017 academic year he is serving as the William S. Vaughn Visiting Faculty Fellow at Vanderbilt University. He was recognized for the ways he has organized groups of students, faculty, and community members together to promote dialogue and enact change.

In 2015, Professor Carter organized and led a group of students and faculty to travel to Selma for the 50th anniversary of the Bloody Sunday march. Within the community, he has played an integral role in leading the City of Valparaiso’s human relations council, which guided the process to pass a human rights ordinance in Valpo, a testament to the way Professor Carter uses his academic and social justice interests to create tangible outcomes. And as a professor, he has taught courses on civil rights, the social gospel in American life, hip hop and American culture, and many others that challenge students to think about history through a critical lens.

Faisal Kutty, associate professor of law and director of the international LL.M. program in the Valparaiso University Law School, was honored for his scholarship and his work enhancing the Law School’s identity as a safe and open environment for all students to freely pursue their studies.

Professor Kutty’s scholarship, which centers on Islamic Law, aims to provide people with greater understanding of Islam and seeks to break down stigmas and barriers that often exist between Westerners, Christians, and Muslims. Professor Kutty has a long and distinguished career pursuing legal justice for and raising awareness about Muslims living in the West, and he has served as an advisor for media and government entities regarding portrayal and treatment of Muslims in both Canada and the United States. Because of his work, he has been named one of the 500 most influential Muslims in the world by the The Royal Islamic Strategies Studied Institute for the past six years. Professor Kutty is known for challenging his students and colleagues to think differently about their preconceptions in order to foster positive dialogue and growth.

Visit valpo.edu/mlk for more information about the Martin Luther King Jr. Award and MLK celebrations at Valparaiso University.

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