U of M Office for Equity and Diversity announces recipients of inaugural Polaris Awards

The University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) is excited to announce the recipients of its inaugural Polaris Awards. The award, which shares its name with the North Star, recognizes thought leaders and changemakers throughout the state of Minnesota who have made extraordinary contributions to equity and diversity efforts in ten different areas.

“We are thrilled to recognize this incredible group of trailblazers and change agents,” said Katrice Albert, vice president for Equity and Diversity. “They are committed to sharing their amazing talents and expertise within their spheres of influence in order to enhance the quality of life for underrepresented and underserved communities throughout the state of Minnesota.”

The 2017 award recipients are:

Community and Economic Development
Devean George, founder, George Group North

Disability Rights and Advocacy
Aaron Gutzke, state program director, ThinkSelf Education and Advocacy

Gender & Sexuality Rights and Advocacy
Saby Labor, founder and CEO, Resilient Campus

Government and Public Policy
Congressman Keith Ellison, Fifth Congressional District of Minnesota, United States House of Representatives

Health and Human Services
Pahoua Yang, vice president, community mental health and wellness, Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

K-12 Education
Kimberly Nelson, senior vice president, external relations, General Mills; co-chair, Leadership Council, Generation Next

Lifetime Achievement
Justice Alan Page (Ret.), Minnesota Supreme Court; founder, Page Education Foundation

Racial and Indigenous Justice
Clyde Bellecourt, executive director, American Indian Movement Interpretive Center

Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) Advancement
Kimberly Price, senior vice president, corporate communications and enterprise services, 3M

Young Polaris of the Year
R’Elle Robinson, student, Jennings Community School

OED will recognize the 2017 Polaris Award recipients at a reception on Thursday, April 27, 2017, at 6 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Campus Club (403 Coffman Memorial Union, 300 Washington Avenue SE, Minneapolis MN 55455).

For more information about the Polaris Awards, visit diversity.umn.edu/polaris.

Media contact: Anitra Cottledge, Office for Equity and Diversity, 612-625-5445, cottlead@umn.edu.

About the University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity

The University of Minnesota Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) works to leverage the transformative power of equity and diversity to advance excellence in teaching, research and community engagement at the University of Minnesota. We envision a University where equity and diversity are: 1) integrated into the work and lives of every student, faculty, and staff member; 2) recognized as core institutional values, and will inform thinking, policies, and practices throughout the University; and 3) inherently intertwined with academic excellence and the development of leaders for a globally inclusive society.

Eight offices and initiatives are part of OED: the Office for Business and Community Economic Development; the Office for Conflict Resolution; the Disability Resource Center; the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action; the Gender and Sexuality Center for Queer and Trans Life; the Institute for Diversity, Equity and Advocacy; the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence; and the Women’s Center. Learn more at diversity.umn.edu.

2017 IDEA Multicultural Research Award Recipients

The Institute on Diversity, Equity and Advocacy (IDEA) sponsors the Multicultural Research Award (MRA), which supports research that addresses issues related to the IDEA mission “to transform the University by enhancing the visibility and advancing the productivity of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and community scholars whose expertise in equity, diversity, and underrepresented populations will lead to innovative scholarship and teaching that addresses urgent social issues.”

Since it’s inception in 1996, the MRA has awarded over 1.5 million dollars to more than 165 UMN faculty from at least 45 different disciplines working in equity and diversity research.

Award recipients are required to present their work as part of Diversity through the Disciplines Symposia sponsored throughout the academic year. Awardees are also encouraged to showcase their research at the Gallery of Excellence, a showcase of equity and diversity research preceding the annual Equity and Diversity Breakfast.

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2017 IDEA Multicultural Research Award:

Assistant Professor Gabriel Chan,  Public Affairs, Humphrey School of Public Affairs
Understanding Gender-Responsiveness of Multilateral Climate Finance

Assistant Professor Joshua Collins, Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, College of Education and Human Development
Incorporating bystander intervention and ally development in the classroom and beyond: An integrative literature review

Associate Professor Molly Dingel
, Center for Learning Innovation, University of Minnesota, Rochester
Underrepresented students’ sense of belonging: The role of living learning communities

Assistant Professor Lake Dziengel, Social Work, College of Education and Human Sevices, University of Minnesota, Duluth
Resilience and the Role of Pets in LGB & Trans* Communities

Assistant Professor Ona Egbue, Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, Swenson College of Science and Engineering, University of Minnesota, Duluth
Evaluating the Impact of Peer-Mentoring on Female and Minority Students’ Experiences in STEM Disciplines

Assistant Professor Insoon Han, Department of Education, College of Education & Human Sevices, University of Minnesota, Duluth
Fostering the Development of Social Justice Ally through Diversity Course Transformation: Pedagogical Approaches in the White-dominant Classroom  

Assistant Professor Rachel Hardeman, Division of Health Policy & Management, School of Public Health
#TinyBlackLivesMatter: An Exploration of the Association between Structural Racism and Inequitable Birth Outcomes 

Assistant Professor Jacob Mans, School of Architecture, College of Design
One House, Many Nations

Assistant Professor Lorena Munoz, Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, College of Liberal Arts
Poverty, Health and Race: Improving Healthy Food Practices Through Traditional Indigenous Growing Technologies

Assistant Professor Elliot Powell, American Studies, College of Liberal Arts
The Other Side of Things: Afro-South Asian Collaborative Sounds in Black Popular Music

Associate Professor Arun Saldanha, Geography, Environment, and Society, College of Liberal Arts
Prince from Minneapolis: The Geographies of Race and Genius

Associate Professor Catherine Solheim, Family Social Science,  College of Education and Human Development
Developing and Testing a Financial Coaching Program for Karen Refugees

Associate Professor Michael Stebleton, Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development, College of Education and Human Development

A Hunger Crisis: Examining Food Insecurity and its Impact on Undergraduate Students 

Assistant Professor Christopher Terry, School of Journalism,  College of Liberal Arts
Gender, Race and Eligible Entities: An Evaluation of the Empirical Evidence in the Federal Communications Commission’s Minority Ownership Policy Proposal

Associate Professor Bhaskar Upadhay, Curriculum and Instruction, College of Education and Human Development
Case Studies of Teachers’ Experiences Teaching about Race and Beyond


UMTC is a Five-Time Recipient of the HEED Award

Insight Into Diversity Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award: The only national higher education diversity award

For the fifth consecutive year, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities (UMTC) has received the 2016 Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award from INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education. As a recipient of the annual HEED Award — a national honor recognizing U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion — UMTC will be featured, along with 82 other recipients, in the November 2016 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

“It’s an incredible honor to be one of a small number of institutions across the nation to receive this award five times in a row,” said Dr. Katrice Albert, vice president for Equity and Diversity. “The HEED Award has become one of the many ways we can benchmark our ongoing efforts to advance our most ambitious equity and diversity goals.”

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine selected the University of Minnesota based on the institution’s exemplary diversity and inclusion initiatives that focus on all aspects of diversity, including gender identity and expression, race, ethnicity, veteran status, ability, and sexual orientation, as well as many other identities. Award recipients for 2016 include community colleges, public and private schools, baccalaureate-granting institutions, graduate schools, and one school system.

“The HEED Award process consists of a comprehensive and rigorous application that includes questions relating to the recruitment and retention of students and employees — and best practices for both — continued leadership support for diversity, and other aspects of campus diversity and inclusion,” says Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. “While we look at numbers and expect continued improvement for those schools that receive the HEED Award year after year, we also use a holistic approach in reviewing each application. Our standards are high, and we look for institutions where diversity and inclusion are woven into the work being accomplished every day across their campus.”

For more information about the 2016 HEED award, visit www.insightintodiversity.com.

[Photo credit: Insight Into Diversity magazine, 2016]

OED Awards – Call for Nominations

Office for Equity and Diversity Call for Award Nominations

Each year, the Office for Equity and Diversity (OED) sponsors numerous awards in support of equity and diversity work and achievements at the University of Minnesota. OED invites you to consider two such awards that recognize the excellent work underway at the University being done in these areas.

Josie R. Johnson Human Rights and Social Justice Award 

The award honors faculty, staff and students who, through their work at the University or their community, exemplify Dr. Johnson’s standard of excellence in creating respectful and inclusive living, learning, and working environments and who demonstrate unusual commitment and passion in the areas of human rights and social justice. The award is given to two individuals each year – one current faculty or staff member and one current undergraduate or graduate student. Nominations are due on September 9, 2016. For a full description of the nomination guidelines and procedures, please visit: https://diversity.umn.edu/josiejohnsonaward.

Outstanding Unit Award for Equity and Diversity 

The Office for Equity and Diversity presents an annual Outstanding Unit Award for Equity and Diversity to a University of Minnesota campus, college, department or unit. The award is presented at the Equity and Diversity Breakfast each November and honors transformational equity and diversity work that both demonstrates outstanding leadership in equity and diversity and is collaborative, sustainable, and linked to the stated mission and vision of the group. Applications are due on September 9, 2016. For a full description of the application guidelines and procedures, please visit: diversity.umn.edu/outstandingunitaward.

2016 Equity and Diversity Transformation Award Recipients

People walking throughout the University of Minnesota Twin Cities mall area

Established by the Office for Equity and Diversity, the University of Minnesota’s Equity and Diversity Transformation Awards seek to infuse equity and diversity into every aspect of the University’s teaching, learning, research, service and outreach by funding creative yet pragmatic proposals for projects that support equity and diversity initiatives.

The focus for the 2016 awards is building capacity for institutional change through the use of strategic partnerships. Partnerships must go beyond financial assistance/sponsorship and efforts must exemplify working in collaboration in one or more of the following ways:

  • Internal: partnership of two or more units/offices within a larger department or college OR partnership of two or more units/offices across various departments or colleges.
  • External: partnership of one or more units/departments with one or more external stakeholders (community organizations, corporations, etc.).

Congratulations to the following recipients of the 2016 Equity and Diversity Transformation Award:

Boynton LGBTQIA Assessment
Boynton Health Services, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

This project is an audit of Boynton Health current practices and infrastructure. The goal of the project is to determine opportunities to improve services and follow best practices for serving the LGBTQIA community at the University of Minnesota. The project will result in a written report of findings, as well as presentations to Office for Equity and Diversity and Office for Student Affairs leadership and Boynton Health staff.

Centering Race and Racial Equity in Service-Learning
Center for Community Engaged Learning, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

This award would provide foundational support to help us investigate how issues of race, racism and racial equity are currently addressed in U of MN service-learning classes and to identify gaps as well as strengths we can build on in future efforts to better support faculty in this work.

Equity and Diversity in Latin America and Spain: Art, Lecture, and Film Series
Departments of Foreign Languages and Literatures & Art and Design, University of Minnesota Duluth

Equity and Diversity in Latin America and Spain: Art, Lecture, and Film Series, which will take place in Spring 2017, creates a strategic partnership between faculty members that research and teach in areas of equity and diversity in Hispanic and Latin American studies at University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) across collegiate units and departments. The series will attract a wide audience of UMD students, staff, and faculty, as well as Twin Ports community members. It includes 1) an art exhibition; 2) five scholarly presentations by UMD faculty; and 3) the presentation, showing, and discussion of two films at the local Arts and Community movie theater in Duluth (Zinema).

Medicinal Plants in Minnesota: Native American Perspectives
Department of Plant Biology, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

We are hosting a multicultural exhibit on medicinal plants at the Northrop Gallery during the 2017 year in conjunction with a round-robin gallery tour that will incorporate local artists, indigenous, and immigrant views of medicinal plants at museums across the Twin Cities area. This project will integrate research strengths of the University of Minnesota from departments as diverse as medicine, anthropology, and business with the knowledge and expertise of local community members to forge connections between the University and the larger community around plants, health, and wellness.

Supporting Students of Color/International Students and Enhancing Cultural Diversity and Inclusivity: A Collaborative Project
Employees of Color Mentoring Program, University of Minnesota Duluth

This project is a series of planned activities which objectives are to connect international students and students of color to employees of color (EOC), communities of color and communities of other nationalities for increased social support and mentoring; to facilitate the exposure of international student to the rich US culture and thus enhance social interaction/inclusion; and to showcase the benefits of cultural diversity on the UMD campus. These activities include a meet-and- greet at the beginning of each semester, involvement of EOC in mentoring dyads/triads for SOC/international students, excursions to historical and US traditional places and events, and hosting student panels.

Teaching Issues of Social Justice in an Interdependent World
Institute for Global Studies, University of Minnesota Twin Cities

Members of the UMN Providers of Professional Development network group will work together with the regional group Youthrive, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers Title III schools through the Minnesota Department of Education, and other area nonprofits such as the Islamic Resource Group, and the Somali American Parent Association to plan and offer a two day professional development workshop for twenty-five licensed K-12 educators (who each teach 25-125 students per year) on Teaching Issues of Social Justice in an Interdependent World. Following the workshop, a Google site with curriculum resources and links to teaching social justice at the K-12 level will be created.