Pamela and George Pruitt receive award for diversity
By: Tristan Leach
Greater Trenton, an independent 501(c)(3) organization, awards the Caren Franzini award every year to a person or persons whose work is notable in an area of focus encompassed by Greater Trenton.
This December, the husband and wife team of Pamela and George Pruitt, who according to the Greater Trenton website, have 50 plus years of experience in higher education, will receive the award for their work in diversity, inclusion and higher education.
Pamela Pruitt works at Rider as the executive director of The Center of Diversity and Inclusion (CDI), and George Pruitt works at Thomas Edison University.
Pruitt engages with the Rider community to educate, celebrate and train people on how to be more inclusive and accepting. Last year, the CDI hosted nearly 129 events ranging in topics from the LGBTQ+ community to the personal experiences of Black men on campus. Being almost 100% online did not stop students and staff alike from attending these events.
George Pruitt is currently president emeritus at Thomas Edison University. According to the Greater Trenton website George Pruitt was instrumental in creating Greater Trenton. George Pruitt served as president of the organization that helped create and launch Greater Trenton. He worked tirelessly to provide education in alternative ways.
Needless to say, people who know the pair are enthusiastic about their accomplishments.
Marcus White, a graduate assistant at the CDI said ,“I think one of the things that sets them apart is learning of their years of extensive advocacy work. Pulling people together to advance issues that pertain to social justice, advancing issues in higher education and society at large.”
Pamela Pruitt said, “I am deeply honored. I don’t expect to get awards, and when my husband said I would be getting an award with him, well, this will never happen again. I didn’t expect to be in this position. I didn’t realize how much I had done until my husband read me a list and told me what they talked about and I thought, ‘well, that’s pretty amazing. Who did that?’ I did that.”
Pamela Pruitt did not start out in the field of education. She was extremely successful in corporate America. However, that all changed when she witnessed and survived the 9/11 attacks. Pamela Pruitt was at The Wall Street Journal radio station at the time of the attacks. After witnessing and surviving the events, she stepped down and began organizing events that would bring people together. After 9/11, Pamela Pruitt, with the help of her husband, held Black Gospel Awareness, an event at Princeton. Over 2,000 people attended, and it was standing room only.
George Pruitt spoke proudly of the event. He said, “She wanted to do a cultural event that unified people of diverse backgrounds. This was her first formal event about promoting diversity because she wanted to use the awareness of Black gospel music to bring people of all faiths and races together to celebrate culture. It had people of all races and colors. Not as a religious expression but as a cultural experience that united people across races, across religions. It was a moving event.”
Pamela Pruitt had tears in her eyes as her husband talked about the event.
George Pruitt began his work as a social activist in the 60s. While he attended Illinois State University, George Pruitt was the president of the Black Student Association. Along with other members, he took over the administration building and took over the president’s office.
“We issued our non-negotiable demands and then the administration negotiated with us and that negotiation turned into a collaboration and I got involved in efforts to bring more diversity to Illinois State University,” he said.
Since then George Pruitt has worked to make higher education more accessible to all. He was instrumental in securing historical buildings in Trenton for Thomas Edison University.
Pamela and George Pruitt will receive the Caren Franzini award on Dec. 6. Anyone wishing to attend and get the latest information can do so on The Greater Trenton website.