Eric Kniskern, director of recruitment and diversity enrollment initiatives at the Widener University Delaware Law School, has been honored with the 2023 Julie E. Wollman Endowed Award for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.
The award was made possible as part of a $100,000 gift to the university by Wollman, who served as the immediate past president of Widener, and her husband, Dan L. King.
The award annually recognizes an employee who advocates and effects change at Widener in support of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging, by going above and beyond their job responsibilities.
Eric Kniskern began his career at Widener’s campus in Harrisburg 24 years ago, serving as director of admissions for the then-Widener University School of Law.
In his time working on the Harrisburg campus, Kniskern was instrumental in bringing Safe Space workshops and trainings, dedicated to supporting the needs of the LGBTQIA+ community, to staff and faculty there.
He positioned the campus to host the annual meeting Law School Diversity Professionals in 2011, through a competitive process in which schools all over the country were vying for hosting privileges.
Kniskern also advocated for and secured prayer space for Muslim students.
At Widener University Delaware Law School, where he has worked since 2016, Kniskern has built on his previous efforts to support DEIB.
He was an early champion for gender-inclusive restrooms on the Delaware campus and routinely works to enhance application and recruitment processes with the goal of attracting a diverse and qualified incoming class.
In addition, he has advocated for the elimination of criminal history questions from the law school application process to attract and better serve justice-impacted applicants.
He researched the practice extensively and presented case studies to the faculty enrollment committee, which led to a law school plan to eliminate criminal history questions beginning with the fall 2024 application process.
Widener Chief Diversity Officer Michelle Meekins-Davis announced Kniskern as the Wollman Award recipient on May 1, at a university-wide town hall meeting for faculty and staff.
“Eric’s dedication to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging has had a measurable impact on all three of Widener’s campuses,” Meekins-Davis said. “He is a leader who demonstrates a consistent commitment to making Widener a place where all students know they belong and can be their true selves. We are fortunate to call him a colleague and he is richly deserving of this recognition.”
Kniskern lives in Mt. Joy, with his partner of 21 years, Kevin, and their two cats, Meep and Rocco.