Alumni Association bestows Diversity Champion Award on Shannon McLoughlin Morrison

Posted: September 23, 2022
Shannon Morrison profile photo

The 2022 winner of The Ohio State University Alumni Association's Diversity Champion Award is Shannon McLoughlin Morrison, assistant director of academics and program assessment at the Center for Aviation Studies.

The annual award is "presented to alumni who have made a significant and sustained contribution that fosters diversity and inclusion in their broader community and/or organization". Morrison was among 10 distinguished honorees recognized for an array of accomplishments by the alumni association.

When Shannon McLoughlin Morrison landed a job as assistant director of Ohio State’s Center for Aviation Studies, she was excited about the opportunity to encourage young people to pursue aviation careers. After all, many pilots were retiring, and a critical shortage of pilots loomed nationwide.

What she did not anticipate were the barriers for women and minorities entering the field. “When I would go to aviation events, I was frequently the only female and the youngest person in the room. No one else looked like me, and there were almost no people of color,” says Morrison ’08, ’15 PhD, ’18, ’20.

Industry statistics reveal that fewer than 4% of pilots for commercial airlines are women. Of that, less than 1% are black women. Asians and Latinos represent about 2% of pilots. Most pilots are white men.

Morrison wanted to help change the industry. “It’s the right thing to do,” she says. “The world is full of people with unique backgrounds. We can't complain about a pilot shortage and then not actively try to recruit and retain all kinds of talent.”

To that end, she created the Global Conference on Diversity in Aviation, Aerospace and STEM, the first of its kind to bring together educators, aviation professionals and students to share ways to create more inclusive practices in the industry. Ohio State has hosted the conference for four years.

“Through Dr. Morrison’s contagious leadership (of the Global Conference on Diversity in Aviation) and exceptional research, my colleagues and I continue to learn from and create partnerships on global initiatives that would never have been available to us without this unique and inclusive outreach.” Amanda Aschaber, Manager, Curriculum and Program Assessment, Seneca College, School of Aviation

Morrison has done extensive research to identify the barriers for women and minorities. She is writing a book, “Women in Color in Aviation”, focusing on her interviews with African American women in the aviation field. Morrison also serves as co-chair of the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee for the Aviation Accreditation Board, International, which is establishing criteria for collegiate aviation programs to create an inclusive environment.

“I've always been someone who wants people to succeed, to have the ability to follow their dreams,” Morrison says. “That means I have to do whatever I can, whether it’s researching an article, writing a book or organizing a conference, so I can help break down barriers for people.”

Originally published by the Alumni Association