Diversity and Excellence grant winners named

Projects at four campuses each receive up to $3,000 for calendar year
By Staff

CU's Diversity and Excellence grants, awarded by the Office of the President and designed to help faculty and/or staff projects promoting diversity and inclusion, have been announced for this year. Awards of up to $3,000 are made for one calendar year, but may be funded one additional year.

The 2010 awardees and their projects:


Psychological Health and Psychiatry: Offering culturally relevant mental health services through the convergence of psychosocial and cultural factors
Dellena Aguilar, Wardenburg Health Center

Wardenburg Health Center is working to create a model of inclusivity within the center, specifically within Psychological Health and Psychiatry. The goals are to increase access to ethnic minorities by collaborating with organizations across campus and the city of Boulder, including the CU-Leadership Excellence Achievement and Diversity Alliance and by providing scholarships for their services. They will be reviewing and making changes to their policies by hosting focus groups. They will work to visually enhance the climate of culture by hiring employees who reflect the populations being served. Multicultural and diversity sensitivity trainings and seminars also will be held for employees and students.

The Colorado Advantage: A graduate preview weekend
Barbara Kraus, biology
Jana Watson-Capps, chemistry and molecular biology

The proposed Colorado Advantage will allow underrepresented minority seniors interested in graduate education to preview STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) doctoral programs at CU-Boulder during a fall weekend.  Participants will have the opportunity to meet individually with faculty, tour laboratory facilities, take part in a workshop on preparing competitive graduate school applications and meet current underrepresented STEM doctoral students. The Colorado Diversity Initiative will administer the program, with financial support from its NSF AGEP grant, the Graduate School, the Colorado Initiative in Molecular Biotechnology, the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences, and enthusiastic commitments from faculty across all STEM departments.

CU Research at the Speed of Light: A faculty outreach partnership to engage underrepresented students with electromagnetism
Stacey Forsyth, science discovery
Juliet Gopinath, electrical, computer and energy engineering

The purpose is to develop, teach and sustain a summer laboratory experience in electromagnetism with 16 students (ages 13-15) from groups underrepresented in STEM fields. They will be exposed to current research in physics and optics on the Boulder campus. The students will participate in a five-day, 15-hour class that will include activities such as making pinhole cameras to explore optics, reproducing an original experiment from 1800 to demonstrate the existence of infrared light, creating 3-D holograms and building imaging systems to look at cells, measuring the speed of light with marshmallows and building a microscope using basic principles of imaging.

Undergraduate Involvement in Informal Science Activities for Middle School Children
Noah Finkelstein, physics
Laurel Mayhew, JILA

The program is a continuation of a previous grant. It works to engage children from underrepresented populations in the sciences and to promote a university identity that includes informal science education as part of the culture for scientists and science teachers in training. Undergraduate physics majors receive training and go on to teach K-12 students in science and computer skills through a for-credit, service learning course. The program works with local communities, K-12 partners and organizations such as the I Have a Dream Foundation. The goal is to engage youth and work with their parents to create a better understanding of how to successfully learn in math and science related subjects.


PLACES (Fall 2011 Collection at Gallery of Contemporary Arts)
Caitlin Green, Gallery of Contemporary Art

PLACES is an eight-week lecture series presented by the Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA) that examines notions of place through diverse perspectives. The purpose of the program is to create an accessible, fun and engaging forum for diverse audiences (including the CU and Colorado Springs communities) to discuss the concept of place through underrepresented, potentially marginalized and unique perspectives. The idea of place can be intimate, culturally specific and an opportunity to share diverse experiences with a broader audience.

Sephardic Memory and Movement: The Spanish Jewish Diaspora and Its Cultural and Artistic Contributions to the American Southwest
Roger Martinez, Ph.D., history

The "Sephardic Memory and Movement" program will be a two-day cultural and scholarly event at UCCS that highlights the history of the Sephardic Jews and their contributions to the American Southwest.  The program intends to expose students and the Southern Colorado Community to this underappreciated history that speaks to the complex ancestry of Latinos. The event also will provide a venue for a discussion on the state of Jewish Latino community relations in Colorado.

Poetry for the People at UCCS
Kirsten Bartholomew Ortega, English

Poetry for the People is currently a class offered at UCCS that encourages students to read, think and write diversely. The class reads poetry from authors of diverse backgrounds and engages in discussions regarding the diversity of the authors' writing. The students also volunteer their time with local middle and high school students and produce a teaching lesson to present to the students. Poetry for the People will expand beyond the classroom by bringing in Tara Bracco, founder of "Poetic People Power," to be a guest speaker on campus and host seminars and writing workshops for the CU and Colorado Springs communities. This event will provide a way for the students in Poetry for People to host a poetry reading to present their work to the middle and high school students they teach, as well as the community.

The Colorado Coalition of Blacks in Higher Education
Susan Harvey, Black Student Union
Stephany Spaulding, Ph.D., women's and ethnic studies

The formation of the Colorado Coalition of Blacks in Higher Education is a statewide organization that promotes collegiality, collaboration, mentorship and support among black faculty, staff, students and communities of color in Colorado. It impacts black faculty, staff and student well-being and success, improving retention at UCCS and other member institutions. Currently, no statewide organization exists to promote and enhance identity, sense of community, professional well-being and development among black faculty, staff and students in higher education institutions.


Opening Pathways to Teaching: A Collaborative Pipeline Project for Diverse Future Teachers
Margarita Bianco, School of Education and Human Development
Danny Martinez, CU Succeed programs

The purpose of this project is to respond to a state and local need to increase the number of diverse teachers in Colorado and to address the urgent need to increase the diversity within the student population in the School of Education.  This project will support the development of an Introduction to Urban Education course that will be offered through CU Succeed for a group of diverse high school students who are interested in becoming teachers. Two teachers from the school will act as mentors to the students in the course and help nurture the students' desire to enter the teaching field.

Pre-Collegiate Middle School Summer Academic Program
Larry Armenta, Pre-Collegiate Development Program
Junior Reina, Pre-Collegiate Development Program

The primary focus of the Pre-Collegiate Middle School Summer Academic Program is to expose 50 eighth-grade, first-generation, college-bound students from six middle schools throughout the Denver area to various academic courses. These courses are designed to enhance and augment their college entry requirements once they enter their host high school for their freshmen year. The summer academic program will be held for two weeks at UC-Denver. Participants in the Summer Academic Program will be provided lunch on campus and any required books or materials.

Community College Nontraditional Student Transfer Ambassador Program
Theresa Gutierrez, Native American Student Services
Sam Kim, Asian Student Services
Angela Marquez, Hispanic Student Services
Omar Montgomery, Black Student Services

The primary focus is to inform potential transfer students about the advantages of attending UC-Denver and the support services available to students that will assist them in their academic endeavors. The CU Student Ambassadors will meet the transfer students at an information day with staff, faculty, administration and students, and after they will assist the students throughout their application and financial aid process. Once admitted, the new students will be matched with an ambassador who will mentor and help them adjust to college life from registration to finding housing. There also will be a special Nontraditional Student Community College Transfer Orientation hosted by the Educational Opportunity Programs prior to the first day of classes. The student ambassadors, EOP and Student Advocacy Center will continue to mentor the students throughout their duration at the university.

Narrative and Counter-narrative in the Debate about Urban School reform
Suzanne Arnold, Education and Human Development
Ashley Babjack, Education and Human Development
Antwan Jefferson, Education and Human Development
Jenna Ream, Education and Human Development
Hannah Withrow, Education and Human Development
Shelley Zion, Education and Human Development

The Center for Culturally Responsive Urban Education (CRUE) is collaborating with the School of Education and Human Development, and other groups across campus to host a two-day film festival at the STARZ/Tivoli Complex in spring 2011. The focus of the film festival is to bring together a variety of participants in the debate about education reform, to engage in authentic dialogue and uncover the multiple perspectives of various stakeholders-policy makers, academics, school personnel, community members, families and students. The films will be introduced by facilitators and be followed up with engaging dialogue about urban school reform. The festival will end with a final panel discussion, comprised of local education leaders and activists, to pull together the conversations and suggest a direction for the work ahead.


Bridge to Dentistry – A P-20 Initiative
Eugene Brooks, School of Dental Medicine
Christian Valtierra, Office of Diversity and Inclusion

This is a continuation of a previous grant. A continuous goal for the School of Dental Medicine is to increase enrollment of qualified minority and low-income students to align with the general population demographics and Colorado's community needs. The School of Dental Medicine has a pilot program in place to recruit and better prepare underrepresented students for the academic rigors of Dental School. The school is increasing its recruitment activities by hosting five or more groups of students from the Denver Metro area and Southern Colorado for hands-on activities and presentations throughout the summer of 2011.