Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Six faculty members awarded for commitment to diversity

Six faculty members dedicated to developing cultural and ethnic diversity at U-M have received the 2009 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic and Affairs.

The recipients are Kelly Askew, LSA; Tabbye Chavous, School of Education and LSA; Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes, LSA; Karin Muraszko, Medical School; Scott Page, LSA and the Institute for Social Research; and Daniel Washington, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

“This year’s recipients demonstrate a commitment to the very centrality of diversity as an important part of the university’s educational mission. Through their writings, public statements, curricular work and co-curricular programs, their efforts have brought about constructive change on issues regarding diversity within his or her academic unit and the broader university,” says Senior Vice Provost Lester Monts.

Established in 1996, the award is given in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work. The award provides $5,000 to recipients to further research and scholarship opportunities.

Kelly Askew
, associate professor of anthropology and Afroamerican and African studies, LSA, also serves as director of the African Studies Center, through which she creates international alliances in the field of African studies.

“[She] has thrived in getting the center off the ground, and has embraced this important task in a spirit of selfless dedication to strengthening African Studies at U-M and on the African continent,” Mark Tessler, vice provost for international affairs and director of the International Institute, wrote in a nomination letter.

Besides directing the African Studies Center, Askew has contributed to diversity through her scholarship and teaching. In 2007 she received the Gilbert Whitaker Fund Award for the Improvement of Teaching to revise the center’s 200-level introductory courses, and from 2006-07 was a Visiting Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle, Germany.

A scholar of ethnomusicology, popular culture and nationalism in East Africa, Askew has produced film documentaries exploring Zanzibari music, including “Poetry in Motion: 100 Years of Ikhwan Safaa,” which was screened at the Zanzibar International Film Festival and the Kenya International Film Festival in 2008.

Tabbye Chavous, associate professor of education, School of Education; associate professor (adjunct) of psychology, LSA; and chair of the Combined Program for Education and Psychology (CPEP), researches the role of race, gender and ethnicity in development issues among adolescent minorities. As chair of the Social Justice Committee in the School of Education and chair of CPEP, Chavous has worked to recruit students and faculty of color to CPEP and increase diversity in the classroom.

Her involvement with mentoring and supporting black students includes serving since 1999 on the advisory board for the annual Black Students in Psychology Conference, which assists black graduate students in their research and professional development.

“Building an educational system and educational practices that respect diversity and work to redress inequities is a fundamental social project: [Chavous] embodies the hard work, generosity of service and skillfulness required to develop this agenda,” Theresa Lee, professor and chair of the Department of Psychology, and Deborah Ball, professor and dean of the School of Education, wrote in a nomination letter.

Lawrence La Fountain-Stokes
, assistant professor of American cultures and romance languages and literatures, LSA, has helped increase understanding of queer and Latina/o cultures through his research on the intersection of race, ethnicity, sexuality and migration, discussed in his books “Queer Ricans: Cultures and Sexualities in the Diaspora” and “Translocas and Transmachas.”

The host of U-M Portal en Español’s Latino Culture Series Productions, La Fountain-Stokes interviews U-M researchers and Spanish-language scholars and has introduced queer and Latina/o-studies scholars and artists to U-M. He also has served on numerous committees and organizations seeking to promote diversity at U-M, including the Program in American Culture, and Assisting Latinos to Maximize Achievement. He also has engaged in the broader community, becoming a central figure in Washtenaw County’s fledgling arts community.

La Fountain-Stokes “interprets and illuminates the works of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender writers, shaking old prejudices in both the U.S. and Latino American countries, and advocating for many communities within the University of Michigan and without,” wrote Lee Doyle, chief of staff for the Office of the Vice President for Communications, and Vivianne Schnitzer, Hispanic communications manager.

Karin Muraszko, the Julian T. Hoff Professor and chair of the Department of Neurosurgery; professor of surgery, plastic surgery section and Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases in the Medical School, is honored as a mentor and inspiration to women striving to overcome bias in the surgical field. Muraszko’s triumph over spina bifida and success as one of the first female pediatric neurosurgeons in the country make her a role model for women and the disabled.

She is a 2007 recipient of the Sarah Goddard Power Award that honors those who have made significant contributions to the betterment of women at U-M and globally through distinguished leadership, scholarship or other activities related to their professions. The creator of Project Shunt, she took a team of medical professionals to Guatemala in 1997 to provide neurosurgical care to children with craniofacial abnormalities.

“She is an outstanding advocate for women, minorities and children being the best they can be as well as for those with disabilities,” wrote Dr. Carmen Green, associate professor of anesthesiology and health management and policy.

Scott Page, the Leonid Hurwicz Collegiate Professor of Political Science, Complex Systems and Economics, LSA; senior associate research scientist in the Center for Political Studies, Institute for Social Research; associate director, Center for the Study of Complex Systems, is known for his work on the importance of diversity in educational settings and the work environment.

He has spoken at public events focused on diversity, including the Michigan Civil Rights Summit and the 2006 Diversity Forum. His book “The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Teams and Societies” discusses the benefits of diversity. A member of the steering committee of the National Center for Institutional Diversity, the Rackham Executive Committee, and the Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs Multicultural University Committee, Page has worked to ensure that admissions decisions maintain a commitment to diversity within the confines of the law.

“[Page’s] academic research, combined with his tireless efforts in talking about and facilitating discussions about diversity, demonstrate an almost unrivaled dedication to helping people understand the benefits of diversity and to bring about equity at the university and in society,” wrote Charles Shipman, chair of the Department of Political Science.

Daniel Washington
, associate dean for faculty affairs, director of minority services, and associate professor of voice in the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, has taken an active role in promoting diversity in the school. The director of minority services oversees counseling of students in SoMTD and coordinates Martin Luther King Day activities for the school. Also the collegiate director and Detroit chapter president of the National Association of Negro Musicians, he has reached out to African-American musicians nationwide and arranged visits of minority artists to SoMTD.

As faculty adviser to the Black Arts Council, Washington has helped students carry out their organizational enterprises and provided academic counsel. And he has helped to attract minority students to SoMTD by establishing contacts with the Duke Ellington School of the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and the Harlem School for the Arts.

“[Washington] is a musical artist with a steadfast faith in the transformative power of the arts in society and a commitment to live out that faith by including as many distinct artistic voices as possible in [SoMTD],” Christopher Kendall, dean of the School of Music, Theatre & Dance, wrote in a nomination letter.