Dean of Students Bob Gatti recognized for advocacy at the 2019 Central Ohio Social Justice Awards

Posted Mar 19, 2019

Bob Gatti receives 2019 Social Justice Award

Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs Bob Gatti has been a supporter of all students over his 41 years at Otterbein. His advocacy and dedication to students and social justice was recently recognized outside of campus as well.

Dean Gatti was awarded the Education Advocacy Award – Individual in Higher Education at the 2019 Central Ohio Social Justice Awards on Friday, March 5.

“This is not solely an individual award, but is the reflection of the hard work of many faculty, staff, students and alumni at Otterbein,” Gatti said.

Gatti was one of seven individual award winners that coincided with six additional organizational awards. According to the Social Justice Award’s website, the mission of the awards is to empower and enlighten all minds to the success and achievements of central Ohio’s social justice leadership. The public and members of central Ohio social justice organizations can then nominate deserving professionals and leaders for the different award categories.

Gatti has been an educator for more than 40 years, helping to turn students into young adults capable of succeeding in an increasingly diverse world. He has spent his entire career at one institution, Otterbein University – a college of opportunity – serving in the Division of Student Affairs. He began his career as a residence hall director in 1978 and moved through a succession of student life positions until he was named vice president and dean for student affairs in 1992.

He has been a key player on campus in making sure that Otterbein’s historic commitment to diversity and inclusion is reflected in our current community. Currently chair of the Otterbein University Diversity and Inclusion committee, he has overseen many of the efforts to ensure that as Otterbein grows more diverse, it becomes more inclusive. Some of the efforts include:

  • Renaming the Office of Diversity to the Office of Social Justice and Activism.
  • Creation of annual all-staff diversity conference.
  • NEST, an early move-in program for students of color and students from under-served backgrounds.
  • Re-identification of 18 university restroom as gender neutral.
  • Creation of Open Space in Garst Hall, a living residence for students of all gender identities who wish to live in an open safe environment.
  • Designation of Tau Delta as Otterbein’s first gender-neutral sorority.
  • Sending students and faculty to the National Conference on Race and Equity.
  • Supported efforts by Academic Affairs to require a focus on race and ethnicity in the Integrative Studies curriculum and the introduction of a minor in Race and Ethnic Studies.
  • Tunnel of Oppression, a multi-media-multi-sensory student led annual event focusing on injustice.
  • The Diversity Education Series, an annual series of educational events designed to help students learn about and engage diversity.
  • The elimination of an achievement gap between students of color and white students as measured by first year retention in 2016.

His work has helped support an inclusive environment as Otterbein has grown increasingly diverse in a very short time, moving from 11% students of color to 19% in just six years.

Dean Gatti is always the first to offer his congratulations on all the accomplishments and success Otterbein has achieved, but he knows that awards do not mean it’s time to rest on our laurels.

“Although Otterbein should be proud of what we have accomplished, we still have plenty of work to do.”

For more information about Central Ohio’s Social Justice Awards, visit their website.