Achievements in diversity celebrated by president's awards

By Staff

Representatives of faculty, staff, students to be recognized at ceremony in May

Five winners of the annual President's Diversity Awards will be recognized in a reception from 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. May 6 at 1800 Grant St. All members of the University of Colorado community are invited; please RSVP

The awards recognize significant achievements of faculty, staff, students and academic or administrative units toward developing a more culturally diverse, competent and inclusive university community. Broad competition in this year's faculty category boosted the traditional four award winners to five. Awards of up to $1,000 each are given for projects or practices that best reflect the implementation of system and/or campus diversity goals. A committee with representatives from each campus made the selections based on criteria that's posted here.

Winners of the 2010 awards:


Onye Ozuzu, professor, department of theater and dance, University of Colorado at Boulder

Ozuzu has significantly increased the diversity of graduate students within her department. She has recruited and retained students from a variety of dance and musical backgrounds, including a drummer from Guinea, a hip-hop "B Boy" dancer, two Cleo Parker Robinson dancers, a Native American/Afro American dancer and a variety of others. Her work on graduate and undergraduate curriculum has been key in terms of retention, department climate and community outreach. She headed a group to rewrite the dance history curriculum to shift focus from only Western forms of dance to a more holistic and historically accurate view of cultures and forms of dance. Her success with the department of theater and dance has influenced other universities to model their dance curriculums after the curriculum in Boulder.

Lilia Cervantes, M.D., Office of Diversity, University of Colorado Denver; Denver Health Medical Center, Anschutz Medical Campus

Cervantes partnered with the University of Colorado at Denver Office of Diversity to found the Healthcare Interest Program (HIP). The minority mentorship program pairs interested undergraduate students attending UC Denver with a physician assistant mentor at Denver Health. In the first year, the program accepted and served 25 undergraduate students. Her goal is to motivate undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds to choose careers where they may work toward eliminating health-care inequities. Students benefit from a clinical experience, faculty mentors gain an understanding of ethnic minority issues and cultural barriers, and the patients benefit from being provided a service from someone of a similar ethnic/socio-ethnic background. Because most health care professionals working at Denver Health are not from underrepresented backgrounds, the HIP helps promote understanding of racial and socioeconomic differences.


Carolyn North, assistant vice chancellor for international affairs, University of Colorado Denver
North has not only brought the world to UC Denver but has constructed the foundation and framework to take the university to any part of the world. She has worked with the schools and colleges on campus to identify specific, targeted recruiting plans for international students. She has helped develop two new student welcome guides, one for Muslim students and another for Chinese students; they include information on ethnic food, places of worship and other information. She has reorganized the office, asking staff to make a priority of encouraging ethnic minority and nontraditional age students to study abroad. She personally sponsored the university's first recipient of the prestigious Institute for International Public Policy Fellowship, a TRIO student who studied in Ecuador (TRIO is a combination of three federal programs). North also has implemented a Travel Authorization System, enabling tracking of students while they are traveling; it helped identify students in Haiti who landed safely in Miami just before the devastating Haiti earthquake.


Andrew Brookens, third-year medical student, University of Colorado School of Medicine, Anschutz Medical Campus

Brookens created and implemented the Annual Health Action Conference, which provides a free vaccination clinic for anyone in the community age newborn to 18 years, free dental screenings, a $25 sports physical service and Medicaid screening and enrollment services. Students also provide checkups of vitals, and participants are served at a community barbecue. The conference also focuses on academic learning through lectures and interactive discussion groups. Brookens proposed the conference during his first year at Anschutz and worked to rally other students to help with organizing and fundraising for the event. During the first year, he secured many high-profile speakers, including elected officials from the Colorado General Assembly and the Aurora mayor's office. The conference has been successful in continuing every year thanks to new students who continue the service Brookens began.


Office of International Education, University of Colorado at Boulder

The office has worked to secure grants and other campus funding to implement the International Coffee Hour, a weekly social event that aims to foster interaction and communication among domestic and international students, staff, faculty and community members. The event's motto is "Bringing CU to the World, Bringing the World to CU." The coffee hour debuted during the 2006-2007 academic year and averaged 49 attendees weekly; 150 students now take part weekly. Members of the office are impressed by the attendance and enjoy watching interaction among the attendees, who are integrated rather than separate, as can be the case during other campus activities. Many of CU's study abroad students look forward to attending the coffee hour once they return to campus, welcoming opportunities to meet people from other countries and to extend the cultural learning process they began abroad.