Christopher Sanders Wins 2023 Bayard Rustin Award

Christopher Sanders smiles and stands in front of a microphone.

The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) named Christopher Sanders the winner of the 2023 Bayard Rustin Award during the 34th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Banquet on January 16. This award, now in its fourth year, recognizes a faculty or staff member at Michigan Tech for their behind-the-scenes impact.

Sanders is the advisor for NSBE as well as the assistant director of the Center for Diversity and Inclusion.

“I am honored and humbled to receive the Bayard Rustin Award from NSBE. Since starting at MTU, our community—and especially our students—have gone out of their way to ensure I feel welcome on campus,” said Sanders.

Arlethia Bell, environmental engineering student and co-president of NSBE, presented the award. During her introduction, she spoke of the impact Sanders has made in the lives of students at Michigan Tech.

“In the short time that he has been a member of the Tech community, he has been instrumental in ensuring the continuation of programs which support diversity on Tech’s campus such as the MiCUP Scholars Program and the Husky Connect Mentorship Program, along with many others.”

Sometimes I think he may not realize how valuable his contributions are to the Tech community.

Arlethia Bell, NSBE co-president

“Chris is super down-to-earth and he enjoys getting to know the students on campus, which is evident by the way that he interacts with us within the CDI,” she said. “Many students have expressed how easy it is for them to connect and talk to him, whether they are asking about campus resources or chatting about anime.”

“Chris is also extremely humble, and openly admits to his shortcomings; but sometimes I think he may not realize how valuable his contributions are to the Tech community.”

About the Bayard Rustin Award

The National Society of Black Engineers began the tradition of presenting the Bayard Rustin Award at the annual MLK Banquet in 2019. This student-nominated award honors a servant leader on campus, often behind the scenes making significant strides, and recognizes them publicly for their commitment.

Bayard Rustin, the award’s namesake, acted as an influential adviser “behind the scenes” to civil-rights leaders. He worked alongside Dr. King and helped organize Freedom Rides and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Rustin also served as an organizer for the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. On November 20, 2013, President Barack Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.