The University of Utah will honor four faculty members with its annual Diversity Awards this week, highlighting efforts to increase the school's commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity at the university.
"These awards recognize continuous and consistent efforts of the individuals and campus units to foster a more inclusive climate and create great access and opportunities for diverse students, staff and faculty," said Karen Dace, senior associate vice president for diversity at the U.
The awards for the 11th annual Diversity Awards will be presented Dec. 5 to Dan Edwards, Steve Nygaard, David Pershing and Wilfred Samuels.
Edwards is a professor of social work with a joint appointment in the Ethnic Studies Program, where he is the director of American Indian Studies. Edwards established the American Indian Social Work Program at the U. in 1971. In 30 years he has assisted hundreds of American Indians and Alaska Natives to earn master's and doctoral degrees.
Nygaard is the director of housing and residential living at the U. He arranged for a block of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to be placed in the Peterson Heritage Center dining room, and was instrumental in creating the Chartwells Emerging Leaders Scholarship for under-represented students. He initiated diversity training for new resident advisers specifically focusing on "unlearning" racism.
Pershing is the senior vice president for academic affairs. Since assuming this role eight years ago, he has worked to more than double the budget for diversity programs at the U. To address the growing need for employment opportunities for the spouses and partners of job candidates, Pershing created a program that provides funding for such hires.
Samuels is an associate professor with a joint appointment in the English Department and Ethnic Studies Program. He is the director of African American Studies and has been responsible for planning Black Awareness Month activities since 1992.