Chancellor's Achievement Awards for Diversity honor commitment

winners of diversity awards

Winners of the 2015 Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for Diversity are, from left, Rita S. Mehta, Susan Willats, Zia Isola, Jessica Manuela Loya, Adrienne D. Harrell, Pablo Reguerin, Chancellor Blumenthal, Sayo Fujioka, and Charles McDowell. (Photos by Steve Kurtz)

award trophies displayed
Engraved glass awards are on display before being presented to their deserving winners.

Two campus programs, staff, faculty, and a student are winners of 2015 Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for Diversity for 2105 for their efforts to promote diversity and inclusion at UC Santa Cruz.

In presenting the awards June 4, Chancellor Blumenthal noted that the program, now in its 13th year, has given out nearly 70 awards to date and that diversity is integral to the campus’s success. “Enrollment today reflects the diversity of the state of California more than at any time in our history—and I am proud of that,” Blumenthal said. “Diversity is an integral part of what we do, and it's making a difference.”

The Lifetime Achievement Award went to Susan Willats, assistant director of Transportation and Parking Services, for serving as a leader and champion for disability access since she began her UC Santa Cruz career in 1986 as a van driver with the Disability Resource Center.

Rita Mehta, assistant professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was honored for advancing women and historically underserved communities in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. She’s been affiliated with STEM diversity programs since she arrived at UC Santa Cruz in 2010.

Zia Isola, director of diversity programs at the Center for Biomolecular Science and Engineering, was cited for her commitment to increasing diversity on campus for women, students of color, students with disabilities, and first-generation college students. She is also director of the UCSC Genomics Institute's Office of Diversity, and staff advisor to the UCSC Women in Science and Engineering group.

Jessica Manuela Loya, an Oakes College senior graduating this spring, was recognized for her commitment to social justice and to promoting diversity and inclusion on campus. She was a lead coordinator of the 2014 Practical Activism Conferences and started a safe space for leadership development for LGBTQ communities.

Also winning Achievement Awards for Diversity were the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) SOMECA (SOAR/Student Media/Cultural Arts and Diversity) for many years of promoting student success and engagement.

A new award was announced, the Women in Science and Engineering (WiSE) Award, won by Charlie McDowell, professor of Computer Science, and Adrienne Harrell, director of undergraduate student affairs and the Baskin School of Engineering.

Both have assisted with Project Awesome and Girls in Engineering.  Project Awesome has ongoing efforts to recruit and retain more women students in computer science and computer engineering. Girls in Engineering is a focused computing camp for middle school girls.

The awards program is sponsored by the Chancellor’s Office, Office for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and Staff Human Resources.