Henry Shikongo of the SUNY Oswego theater department recently was chosen for SUNY’s prestigious Faculty Diversity Program, a three-year, salary-assistance and research award that enabled him to join the department as an assistant professor.

Since 2008-09, when SUNY’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion reconstituted the former “Minority Faculty Program,” Shikongo is the first from SUNY Oswego to receive the highly competitive award, according to the office.

Carlos Medina, senior associate vice chancellor of SUNY and the system’s chief diversity officer, congratulated Shikongo and just three other first-round 2015 honorees for having emerged from “an outstanding pool of candidates” across SUNY for the program, whose purpose is to encourage SUNY institutions to recruit, retain and promote outstanding scholars from different backgrounds, including those historically underrepresented in higher education.

A former visiting faculty member, Shikongo expressed his delight with the award. “I was really taken aback and pleasantly surprised by this honor,” he said. “For the department, it means more acting classes are available, more teaching resources for students.”

Over winter break, Shikongo joined theater colleague Jonel Langenfeld and a group of students for training at the Moscow Art Theater School, where Shikongo had a semester’s residence while in graduate school. He also directed the theater department’s “It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” in December and is poised to direct the Tom Stoppard play “Arcadia” this spring.

An Ottawa native, Shikongo earned his master’s degree from the American Repertory Theater Institute of Advanced Theater Training at Harvard University in 2013. His acting specialty is physical theater, from mask work to swordplay, from strength and conditioning to acrobatics and partner work. A believer in lifelong education in theater arts for himself as well as students, he intends to build on his resume as an actor, and has an independent film and three commercials to his recent credit.

Shikongo has been a member of Ottawa’s Acting Company professional training program and has studied at Dell’Arte International School of Physical Theatre, the Institute of HeartMath Research and Development and Trinity Guildhall in London. He has appeared in “The Boston Abolitionists,” “Blood Work,” “Twelfth Night” and “The Imaginary Invalid,” among other productions.