The University Record, April 19, 1999

Five honored for diversity service

By Jane R. Elgass

Five individuals have received Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards. The awards recognize faculty whose service contributes to the development of a more culturally and ethnically diverse campus community.

Named for the former dean of the School of Social Work, the $5,000 awards are given annually to full-time tenured and tenure-track faculty members to further their personal research, education and creative activities. This year's recipients are James J. Chaffers, professor of architecture; Charles Krause, professor of otolaryngology; Ann E. Larimore, professor of geography and of women's studies; Earl Lewis, vice provost for academic affairs and dean, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies; and Margaret Scisney-Matlock, assistant professor of nursing.

"The 1999 award winners have made extraordinary and consequential contributions to their departments and the academic community through their sustained efforts to enhance the multicultural mission of the University of Michigan" said Lester Monts, associate provost for academic affairs.

"Their leadership and service have had a profound impact on improving campus climate, curriculum and program development, pedagogy, hiring practices, and student learning and mentoring. We are delighted to honor such exceptional and inspiring individuals," he said.

Chaffers "has been not only a pioneer for the advancement of his own race, but, as both an architect and academician, inspires and informs a wide diversity of groups of students, faculty and fellow professionals," said College of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) Dean Douglas S. Kelbaugh in nominating him.

In addition to serving as a role model and mentor, Chaffers has been involved in a number of CAUP and Universitywide initiatives, and has for nearly 30 years served as a member of the Detroit Housing Workshop, of which he also is a founder. The group provides pro bono architecture and lanning services to residents and has involved hundreds of students over the years.

"Prof. Chaffers has a well-deserved reputation as a scholar, a teacher, a designer and social activist in the cause of diversity," Kelbaugh added, "but I believe his defining characteristic is the sincere respect he quietly but firmly bears for all people. His commitment to diversity is not simply about creating equal opportunities for representatives of all groups, it is a diversity that translates into creating a genuine community composed of diverse groups of people."

Starting in 1990 when he was chair of the Department of Otolaryngology, Krause "developed and promoted a mission of diversity that changed the department and established a new model for diversity in the Medical School," noted nominator Josef M. Miller, the Lynn and Ruth Townsend Professor of Communication Disorders.

In the early 1990s, the Department of Otolaryngology undertook a program of climate assessment and enrichment that included a comprehensive survey. These activities have resulted in the development of a diversity library, a yearly diversity retreat, a periodic survey, monthly videos and informal discussions, regular focus group meetings within job classes to define impediments to better relationships, ongoing training on gender sensitivity issues, initiation of a monthly newsletter, appointment of a continuing diversity committee and transformation of the composition of the resident training program from nearly all white males to a 50 percent representation of women and underrepresented minorities.

In addition to setting an example for other departments, Krause was "instrumental in pushing forward diversity efforts on a Schoolwide basis," noted Department Chair Gregory T. Wolf. "His commitment to diversity in our educational mission is unquestionable," and has included personal contributions to an annual lectureship that "has been instrumental in bringing into the Medical Center speakers who have focused on diversity issues."

"Throughout her academic career, Prof. Larimore has placed cultural diversity at the forefront of her concerns," noted nominator Thomas E. Weiskopf, director of the Residential College. "Even before the word 'multiculturalism' became widely utilized, she was teaching and carrying out research on the diverse cultural geography of Africa and East Asia. Over the years, her areas of teaching and research interest have come to include multicultural feminist teaching strategies and philosophy, as well as interdisciplinary approaches to teaching about the influence of cultural values--especially concerning gender and ethnicity--on resource uses and environmental attitudes."

Over a 30-year period, Larimore has been an active participant in a number of efforts to promote diversity and cultural sensitivity, including membership in FAIRteach (U-M Faculty and Staff Against Institutional Racism) and teaching first-year seminars on intergroup relations.

In her work on many committees over the years, Larimore "has consistently advocated and facilitated fair treatment to all, with sensitivity and due respect to people's particular circumstances," Weiskopf noted. "She has mentored junior women and minority faculty and supported their advancement. On occasion, she has vigorously protested unfair treatment some of them have suffered. She mentors and advises many students--particularly those who, because of their identities, are vulnerable to unfair treatment or have met with a particularly troubling event or set of events. At the Residential College, she has done much to foster a climate more conducive to the retention of minority students.

"If one could physically weigh a person's commitment to diversity, Dr. Lewis's accomplishments would tip the scales," said nominators Abigail Stewart, and Glenda Haskell. "With unflagging energy, he has taken on numerous roles over the course of his life with respect to service and commitment to diversity, including undergraduate student leader, scholar, teacher, mentor, university administrator and national leader."

Stewart is professor of psychology and of women's studies and director, Institute for Research on Women and Gender. Haskell is assistant to the dean for academic programs and services, Horace H. Rackham School of Graduate Studies.

Among Lewis's many contributions is the initiation of the Rackham Interdisciplinary Institute and the Rackham Interdisciplinary Seminars. "Dr. Lewis has long been a proponent of interdisciplinary work," said Stewart and Haskell, "recognizing the importance of legitimizing and promoting scholarship that crosses boundaries and challenges the academy's canons. The nature of interdisciplinary work is, of course, closely linked to diversity in that it creates a haven for researchers and scholars who represent an ever-widening variety of academic interests.

"In addition to tireless service within and outside the University, Dean Lewis has always directed his attention to the wider public, in an effort to ensure that academic advances in scholarship on race and diversity have the kind of impact they should. An excellent example of this work," Stewart and Haskell added, "is his leadership of the campuswide Dialogues on Diversity initiative, a multiyear effort to stimulate, support and encourage discussion of diversity in small, private contexts as well as large, public settings throughout the University."

"From my first interaction with Dr. Scisney-Matlock," noted nominator Jan L. Lee, associate professor, director of undergraduate and non-traditional programs and interim associate dean for academic affairs, School of Nursing, "I knew I was in the presence of a dynamic, charismatic and committed nurse educator and nurse scientist. Dr. Scisney-Matlock has worked untiringly to infuse diversity concepts into her teaching and the teaching of others. Her interpretation of diversity is a broad one, inclusive of important health-related variables, such as age, gender, ethnicity, race and socioeconomic status, to name a few.

"She is an exemplary role model and molder of future nursing professionals and scholars, as exemplified by her work with all levels of learning, from high school students participating in the School of Nursing Students and Teachers K-12 Summer Research Apprentice Program, to undergraduate students engaged in mastering basic concepts and foundations of nursing science, to graduate students immersed in theses/research projects."

Scisney-Marlock, Lee added, "is richly deserving of recognition for her efforts to infuse diversity content into basic concepts and foundations of baccalaureate nursing education, her personal commitment to diversity as part and parcel of the intellectual life of this University and her research centered on improving health outcomes for diverse clientele."