Tuesday, November 25, 2014

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EOP Champions Enhance Access and Equity at U.Va.

The University of Virginia’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs annually awards as “EOP Champions” individuals and groups on Grounds who make special efforts to improve diversity and equity. This year’s 11 champions have worked on a range of areas, from designing assistive technology to promoting science and engineering in local schools.

Office of Equal Opportunity Programs director Darlene Scott-Scurry called the honorees “our supporters, allies, warriors and heroes.” They help extend the office’s reach across Grounds and give it a louder, clearer voice, she said Friday at the office’s annual Open House.

“All of these contributions are valuable in advancing EOP’s mission of eliminating discrimination and advancing equal access. They make the University a more welcoming and inclusive learning community,” she said.

Anyone at U.Va. may nominate staff, students or faculty for the award, and the Equal Opportunity Programs office begins accepting nominations each July. Started in 2008, the award program does not choose one winner; rather, all who are nominated receive the award.

“We at EOP think that no work that promotes social justice and civil rights should go unacknowledged. We are committed to recognizing and celebrating the efforts of every individual and organization that works for equity, inclusion and access at the University,” Scott-Scurry said.

This year, the office recognized its 50th EOP Champion. The winners receive a plaque designating them as EOP Champions and detailing their accomplishments.

Here is the list of this year’s winners, with Scott-Scurry’s award citations:

• Adam Maquire, Jenny Alt, Brian Castor, Griffin Shapiro, Ishan Zaman, a student team in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and their instructor, Susan Donohue.

The students built assistive technology for persons with limited or no use of their limbs. The prototype was entered into the AbilityOne Network Design Challenge this past April. Donohue, the instructor for “Introduction to Engineering,” has incorporated the development of assistive designs into the curriculum for several years. The commitment to including this project in the classroom demonstrates the countless ways we can all contribute to creating equity and removing barriers for those who have historically faced difficulty in the workplace.

• Jared Brown, an undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Sciences.

Brown is an active participant and leader in numerous social justice activities and projects at U.Va., including: the University and Community Action for Racial Equality, an initiative to resurrect a memorial to celebrate the contributions of enslaved laborers who built the University; Brothers United Celebrating Knowledge and Success, a project that develops and creates training seminars for area youth in the Charlottesville community; and the U.Va. Living Wage Campaign. Brown is also a student in the African-American Studies Distinguished Majors Program and participated in the publication of “The Problem Punishment” as an intern for the Carter G. Woodson Institute of African and African-American Studies.

• Martin Davidson, an associate professor of leadership and organizational behavior in the Darden School of Business.

Davidson teaches, conducts research and consults with global leaders on how they can use diversity strategically to generate superior business performance. His research on the impact of culture and ethnicity on career development and on conflict management appears in top managerial and academic publications. His research and teaching take a unique approach to the broad topic of diversity; rather than addressing only the traditional diversity challenges of race and gender, Davidson also encourages interest, thought and action into the complex workplace challenges that require leveraging a variety of differences to fully manage talent in the workplace. He also served for two years as the associate dean and chief diversity officer at Darden, where he has worked to create a more diverse and inclusive environment for faculty, administration, staff and students.

• Doris Shifflett, a consultant with Health System Human Resources.

As a human resources consultant in the Medical Center, Shifflett has been a strong ally to the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs in ensuring the Medical Center is free from discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Over the years, Shifflett has consistently and thoroughly responded to employee concerns, quickly following up on complaints in consultation with the Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, gathering and evaluating facts, and when necessary, taking prompt action to address potential problems.

• Wraegen Williams, undergraduate research programs coordinator in the Center for Diversity in Engineering, School of Engineering and Applied Science

Williams serves as a member of a small, highly effective team that manages the Engineering School’s outreach and support efforts, and has worked directly with more than 100 undergraduate students over the past four summers to expand their critical thinking and technical research skills. She is passionate about enhancing the STEM pipeline and more than willing to mentor students. Williams has been instrumental in helping the center garner funding to support the educational development of more than 200 middle-school students from underserved and/or underrepresented groups. Overall, Williams serves as a role model for all students, especially women and minorities. She encourages them to pursue their dreams and teaches them that persistence and determination are the keys to making their dreams a reality.

• Debbie Mincarelli, human resources director for the College and Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

When she worked for Information Technology Services, Mincarelli was among the first group of EOP Champions. Her commitment and dedication to social justice is consistent and strong, as illustrated by her repeat nomination as an EOP Champion this year. Her nominees note that as human resources director for the College, Mincarelli champions the cause of equal opportunity in the workplace. The University is committed to supporting military veterans, and Mincarelli echoed that support when she successfully ushered the College through a new posting process for hiring adjunct faculty. This process ensures the College’s compliance with the Jobs for Veterans Act. In April, she launched an initiative to educate faculty and program directors on the Jobs for Veterans Act, its importance and the ramifications of being noncompliant. She met with 30 department representatives and worked diligently with EOP, the Provost’s Office and faculty and staff to implement the new process and to make it as efficient and as streamlined as possible.

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