The city of Columbia recognized Columbia Public Schools Superintendent Peter Stiepleman and the MU chapter of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity with Columbia Values Diversity Awards on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Every year, Columbia recognizes one member of the community and one organization or group that exemplifies the spirit of King with the award.
Stiepleman has worked with CPS for 16 years, first as a teacher and then as a principal and assistant superintendent before he took on the role of superintendent in 2014. This will be his last year as superintendent, as he announced in October that he’d be retiring after this school year.
“In every position and role, Dr. Stiepleman has championed the ideals of inclusion, diversity and equity,” Mayor Brian Treece said in a video announcing the award recipients.
As superintendent, Stiepleman created a program that seeks to develop future teachers out of the district’s student minority population.
Stiepleman thanked his parents; his team at CPS; and all the teachers and staff of its various schools.
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. is a historically Black fraternity founded at Howard University in 1911, making it the first fraternity founded on a historically Black university campus.
MU’s chapter, Eta Alpha, was recognized for its community service work and fundraising efforts, particularly its efforts to sponsor college scholarships. The chapter provides three scholarships to high school seniors in mid-Missouri and one scholarship to a Lincoln University student each year.
The chapter has also worked to provide Thanksgiving dinners for struggling mid-Missouri families and held toy drives to provide holiday gifts to those who might struggle to afford them.
Its community efforts do not stop there. The fraternity has also undergone projects to promote literacy and voter registration in the community.
“We believe that us providing uplift to the community, especially those that are less fortunate, helps bring value not only to their lives but to ours,” the chapter’s former president, Andre Cook, said in the video announcement.
This year’s judges for the award were Nikki McGruder, Brent Lowenberg and Stacey Smith.
Their criteria for award winners were “promoting an appreciation for diversity and cultural understanding in our community; community work that exemplifies the teachings of Dr. King in fostering individual dignity, racial equality, understanding, peace-making and solving problems through nonviolence; and lastly, engagement in this activity for an extended period of time with significant activity in Columbia in the preceding year.”