Honoring our champions of diversity

diversity winners

Winners of the Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity pictured in June 2014 are from left,  Kaitlin Leigh Hellier and Assistant Professor Tesla Jeltema, UCSC Women in Physics Club; Jill Palmer Naiman, graduate student, Astronomy and Astrophysics; Wisdom O. Cole, undergraduate, Oakes College; Chancellor Blumenthal; Lesley-Reid Harrison, undergraduate, College Ten; Madlyn Norman-Terrance, assistant manager, Labor and Employee Relations; Norma Klahn, Professor of Literature; and Hiroshi Fukurai, professor of Sociology and Legal Studies. (Photo by Matt Fitt)

Sheree Marlowe, Assistant Campus Diversity Officer
Sheree Marlowe, Assistant Campus Diversity Officer (Photo by Carolyn Lagattuta)

UC Santa Cruz has a long history of valuing and celebrating diversity and inclusion and advocating for our Principles of Community. One of our traditions is to present annual awards to students, staff, and faculty who accomplish great things as champions of diversity.

Past recipients tell me that receiving a Chancellor's Achievement Award for Diversity (CAAFD) holds great meaning for them. One recipient, Sociology Professor Hiroshi Fukurai, said he considers the award one of the most important awards at UCSC—and perhaps at any campus. Recipients frequently mention that the award energized them and reaffirmed their commitment to diversity work. And virtually everyone says the award ceremony itself was a meaningful moment during which they saw themselves as part of a bigger, more impactful community than they'd realized.

More than 80 awards have been presented since the CAAFD awards were established in 2003; past recipients are noted online. Contemplating the collective on-campus impact of these champions of diversity is heartening. Contributions from the 2014 recipients include working with community-based organizations that collaborate with campus units to advance students of color, mentoring women and minorities in the STEM fields, creating intersectional dialogues around queer students and other marginalized communities, advancing our teaching mission by incorporating topics on race and the law, and advancing the work of graduate students in the field of Latin American literacy and cultural studies.

The ripple effects of UCSC's commitment to diversity are profound off campus, as well. Lesley-Reid Harrison received a 2014 diversity award as an undergraduate and is now working as a coordinator at the Diversity Center of Santa Cruz County. Another undergraduate recipient last year, Wisdom Cole, was recognized for his role as co-chair of the African Black Coalition conference that was founded at UCSC in 2003 and returned to Santa Cruz a year ago this month. The conference attracted more than 500 black students and alumni from across the state to talk about issues in higher education.

Individually, awardees are contributing to the creation of a healthy living and learning environment at UCSC. Collectively, they are part of this university's institutional excellence, supporting innovation, problem solving, and our commitment to making the world a better place. A past recipient, Assistant Manager Madlyn Norman-Terrance in Employee and Labor Relations, said it best by noting that valuing diversity is an ongoing daily aspect of our working and learning environment.

The diversity awards are sponsored by the Chancellor's Office, the Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (ODEI), and Staff Human Resources.

We are now seeking nominations for the 2015 Chancellor's Achievement Awards for Diversity and for a new award this year, a Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) award that will also be presented during the CAAFD ceremony in June. This new award is the brainchild of Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE), a campus organization run by graduate students; the Chancellor's Office and ODEI are pleased to support this effort to recognize advocates who are working to get more women into science and engineering.

The online nomination process for both awards runs through 5 p.m. on April 1. I encourage you to submit the names of friends, colleagues, and mentors, as well as programs, campus units, and/or organizations that are making a difference.