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Updated 3:00 PM May 2, 2006




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Diversity commitment lauded in 5 faculty members

The Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs has given the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award to five faculty members who have contributed to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse campus community.

The 2005 recipients are: Cleopatra Caldwell, associate professor of health behavior and health education in the School of Public Health (SPH), and faculty associate in the Center for Group Dynamics at the Institute for Social Research Research; Larry Gant, associate professor of social work; Sioban Harlow, professor of epidemiology; Dr. Charles B. Smith, professor of pharmacology; and Mieko Yoshihama, associate professor of social work.

Named in honor of Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work, the award was established in 1996. Honorees receive $5,000 to further their personal research, teaching and scholarship activities.

Caldwell's teaching and research accomplishments, as well as her work with Black families, child and adolescent health, and mental health, have made significant contributions to the field of minority health generally, and African American mental health, in particular, say her nominators. Since 1991 she has mentored more than 35 undergraduates through the Rackham Summer Research Opportunity Program, which has a goal to increase the number of underrepresented minority students who go on to earn graduate school degrees with an eye toward academic careers.

"Dr. Caldwell's commitment to cultural diversity is clearly demonstrated in all aspects of her academic career—through her service, teaching and scholarship," says Barbara Israel, professor of health behavior and health education in SPH. "The University of Michigan is fortunate to have a faculty member who displays the quality and commitment that Dr. Caldwell does to fostering diversity."

Gant is recognized nationally as a contributor to community-based practices that empower different ethnic and racial minority groups by addressing social justice issues and disparities. He has created, implemented and evaluated community-based health promotion initiatives in the areas of early childhood development, substance abuse prevention, sexually transmitted disease and HIV/AIDS. The Community Based Initiative, begun in 2000, allows students to become fully immersed in the community, in which they attend class, work with organizations and conduct research.

"His research projects are highly respected by his colleagues nationally and demonstrate his intellectual excellence and his commitment to equality, regardless of race or economic status," says Paula Allen-Meares, dean of the School of Social Work (SSW). "He demonstrates every day his commitment to the centrality of diversity as a critical part of the University's mission."

Since becoming an assistant professor in 1992, Harlow has devoted her time and effort to supporting students from minority and disenfranchised groups and other countries. While serving as associate director of the International Institute from 2000-05, Harlow helped build programs around campus to promote diversity and human rights. A recent recipient of a grant from the Fogarty International Center to develop a University-wide framework for multidisciplinary research and training in global health, she has advised more than 15 epidemiology doctoral and several master's degree students.

"Sioban instills high academic standards, self confidence, pride in her work, and a passion for making a positive contribution to society," says Hal Morgenstern, professor and chair of the Department of Epidemiology in SPH. "In my 28 years as a university professor, I cannot think of anyone else who has had this type of impact on graduate students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds."

Smith began working with diversity issues in the early 1980s when he served on the Minority Student Recruitment Initiative in Health and Biological Sciences Task Force. From 1981-96 he was faculty advisor in the Scholarly Research Program for Urban/Minority High School Students. He worked on the Provost's Commission on Recruitment Success and Graduation of Undergraduates of Students of Color, and chaired the Committee for a Multicultural University.

"Dr. Smith stands out from everyone I've been involved with over the years as a dedicated teacher and practitioner who is also an ethical and caring human being," says Linda Carr of the Office of International Programs, who nominated Smith. "He encourages both students and staff to become the best they can become by helping them recognize their own value."

Yoshihama has drawn attention to the multiple needs of international students and has assumed a leadership role in proposing an international focus as part of Social Work's curricular and institutional development. Her work provides a critical analysis of violence against women, and its health and mental health implications, and her cross-cultural focus on Japanese and Japanese-American women offers a welcome perspective on the socio-cultural context of relationship violence, says Robert Ortega, associate professor of social work and Yoshihama's nominator.

"She is an excellent mentor, colleague and citizen. Her commitment to diversity is clearly reflected in her service activities both inside and outside the University," says Siri Jayaratne, professor and SSW associate dean of faculty and graduate affairs. "She has taken on the mission of a diverse and equitable society with vigor, and tirelessly pursues those issues that have a negative impact on the lives of women, and in particular, women of color."

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