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IUPUI honors campus champions of diversity


Taylor Symposium award for diversity, 2-17-15, Kathy Grove – Director for the IUPUI office for Women, Simon Rhodes – Dean of School of Science with their awards


INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis has honored six campus champions of diversity during events held this semester.

The woman behind the Advancing Women Mentoring Program at IUPUI and the man known as an outspoken advocate for the campus’s Women in Science House are the recipients of the 15th annual Dr. Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity Awards.

IUPUI Chancellor Charles R. Bantz conferred the Taylor awards to Kathleen Surina Grove, director of the IUPUI Office for Women, and Simon J. Rhodes, dean of the Purdue School of Science at IUPUI, during the annual Joseph T. Taylor Symposium on Feb. 17.

The Taylor awards honor the legacy of Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The award recognizes exemplary IUPUI individuals — or programs, policies and activities — who have promoted diversity in areas such as curricular transformation; campus environment; and the attraction and retention of students, faculty and staff of color.

A selection committee chose Grove and Rhodes from among nine nominees for the award. The committee reviews nomination and application packages and then selects candidates to recommend to the chancellor as award recipients.

Two students and two campus administrators received diversity awards during the 46th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration Dinner on Jan. 18.

Eric D. Williams, director of the University College Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program, received the Advocate of the Dream Award at the King Celebration. The award is given by the IUPUI Black Student Union, sponsor of the annual dinner, to a faculty or staff member at IUPUI who promotes the ideals of freedom and equality presented in King’s historic “I Have a Dream” speech.

Two other groups honored diversity champions during the King Dinner. The Black Faculty and Staff Council presented awards to IUPUI students Keith Watts and Hadyatoullaye “Hadya” Sow; and the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Indianapolis Chapter presented the Neal-Marshall Distinguished Alumni Award to Vernon Williams, IUPUI assistant to the chancellor for communications.

Kathleen Surina Grove

As director of the IUPUI Office for Women, Grove “has worked vigorously to build an environment on campus that is inclusive of all,” the Taylor award selection committee wrote in a letter of recommendation to Bantz. “Her exemplary leadership has made powerful and significant impactful contributions to IUPUI which has garnered her wide respect across the entire campus from students, faculty, staff, administrators and the community.”

Grove has spearheaded the Advancing Women Mentoring Program and has been the driving force behind the Women’s History Month observation and Annual Leadership Awards. Grove has also been an ardent supporter for funding for minority women to attend the HERS Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education.

“I was very surprised and deeply honored to receive this award in the name of Dean Taylor and pleased to have my work for gender equity on campus recognized,” Grove said.

Simon J. Rhodes

Shortly after becoming dean, Rhodes created the School of Science Diversity Council. The council has been influential in shaping the school’s strategic plan, which includes increasing the number of graduating underrepresented minority students by 10 percent by 2019, the number of tenure-track female faculty by 25 percent and the number of underrepresented minority faculty by 50 percent.

“As a champion for diversity in his school, Dean Rhodes works to foster a supportive, inclusive climate for women and minorities through his advocacy and support for comprehensive mentoring … and continues vocal advocacy for and sensitivity to diversity matters,” said the selection committee’s letter of recommendation.

Under Rhodes’ leadership, the School of Science hosted a forum that showcased the Women in Science House, an on-campus residential living and learning community for female science students, and honored outstanding female undergraduate students.

“It’s about community,” Simon said. “Our School of Science philosophy is for diversity, inclusion and tolerance in the broadest sense, with the goal that the school has an optimally welcoming and functional learning and working environment.”

Eric Williams

In the award presentation, Williams was recognized for the “unparalleled volumes of work he does for the students on (IUPUI’s) campus,” which is motivated by his desire to be personally connected to each student in University College’s Diversity Enrichment and Achievement Program. From this, it was noted that his greatest reward is “seeing a positive transformation in the young lives” he touches.

When asked how he felt about receiving the award, Williams said, “I was very humbled and appreciative and especially appreciative because it came from the students whom we serve. … The truest validation one can have is the impressions and opinions from students.”

Vernon Williams

Before coming to IUPUI, Williams, an educator, author, playwright and journalist, was the executive vice chairman of the board of directors for Indiana Black Expo Inc. and senior vice president for communications with IBE.

Williams is an executive board member and past national president of the IU Neal-Marshall Alumni Club and executive board member and past chapter president of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Indianapolis Chapter. He is also a past member of the Executive Board of the Indianapolis Association of Black Journalists.

Williams earned his bachelor’s degree from the School of Journalism at IU Bloomington.

“Vernon represents everything that the NMAC stands for,” said LaTika R. Webster, community partnerships manager and staff liaison and advisor of the Neal-Marshall Alumni Club Indianapolis Chapter. “His leadership at the national level and his support at the local level have been stellar.”

Keith Watts

Watts received the I Have a Dream Award for scholastic perseverance. He is a graduating senior in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs, where he is studying civic leadership. He is an avid volunteer in the community, having served IPS School 42, Tinley High School, the Andre Carson for Congress campaign, the Marion County Democratic Party and Habitat for Humanity. After graduation, he will study abroad in Brussels, Belgium, and then head to law school.

Hadyatoullaye “Hadya” Sow

Sow received the Joseph T. Taylor Academic Achievement Award. She is a liberal arts student with a triple major in international studies, medical humanities and public health. Born in Guinea, West Africa, Sow has been in the U.S. since the age of 5. In 2013, she graduated from the Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics and Humanities in Muncie, Ind. Her goals are to earn a degree in law, focusing on international human rights, health and/or immigration law.