The Academic Senate and its Committee on Diversity and Equal Opportunity announced Thursday the recipients of the 2015-2016 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Awards.
Each year, the committee honors one undergraduate student, a graduate student, staff member and four faculty members for their contributions to furthering a diverse, impartial and inclusive environment at UCLA.
“The selection of these winners is often difficult as each of the many candidates nominated for these awards have made enormous contributions to encouraging that environment in important and innovative ways,” said Academic Senate chair Leobardo Estrada and Russell Thornton, committee chair, in a letter announcing the winners. “This year’s selection was no exception.
Here are highlights of their achievements. The recipients are:
- Kareem Elzein, a graduate student in education, has worked on several UCLA diversity initiatives, including the 2015 Forum to Reclaim Diversity the Climate and Equity Grant Program funded by a block grant from the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. The program provides outstanding student leaders with support to work in coalition student groups.
- Justin Kiang, an undergraduate student majoring in Asian-American studies, has been active for many years with the Asian Pacific Coalition and the UCLA Community Programs Committee. He served on the student advisory group that helped draft the proposal for the UCLA College’s of diversity requirement. He was also appointed by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Scott Waugh to serve on the search committee for the new vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion.
- The staff recipient is Tama Hasson, academic director of the Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences. She has personally mentored more than 1,000 students through a variety of programs at UCLA, all of which emphasize the success of students from underserved backgrounds. Since arriving at UCLA she has obtained at least 10 grants to support underserved and minority students to achieve educational and research excellence.
- The Faculty Career Commitment to Diversity DEI Award goes to professor Gail Wyatt, director of the Semel Institute’s Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities. She has worked tirelessly for many years to increase awareness of and commitment to diversity and inclusion principles. She currently chairs the Diversity Group that includes people of color who are in training or on the faculty in UCLA’s Geffen School of Medicine.
- Professor Grace Hong of gender studies and Asian-American studies is this year’s Faculty Research on Diversity DEI Award recipient. She has done exceptional work in advancing research in gender, race, and sexuality studies. She has also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Consortium for Black Studies, a UC Multi-Campus Research Project that was awarded more than $1 million. This grant responded to the growing awareness of police violence and a disregard for black lives.
- Professor Michael Alfaro of ecology and evolutionary biology is this year’s Faculty Student Development DEI Award recipient. In the spring 2014, professor Alfaro was one of the campus leaders who was tasked with developing a proposal to establish a diversity course requirement for undergraduate students in the UCLA College. His leadership contributed to the successful passage of the diversity requirement.
- Sociology professor Vilma Ortiz is this year’s second Faculty Student Development DEI Award recipient. She teaches the only Latina/o undergraduate class in Sociology and provides this perspective as a co-instructor in the Freshman Undergraduate Interracial Dynamic Cluster. Her efforts have been crucial in securing institutional support and enriching graduate training in race and ethnicity.