For his dedication to raising awareness and addressing needs of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community at the University of Virginia, Dr. Marcus Martin, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity, has received the V. Shamim Sisson “Ally of the Year” Award, sponsored by U.Va.’s LGBT Resource Center.
Ed Warwick, the center’s former program coordinator, said Martin’s efforts have been paramount in the LGBT community’s progress and achievement at the University.
The award was created in 2008 and first presented to its namesake, Shamim Sisson, who, as senior associate dean of students, worked closely with students, faculty, staff and alumni to provide a strong support network for LGBT members of the University community. She was instrumental in the establishment of the LGBT Resource Center and the hiring of its first full-time program coordinator in October 2006.
Edward Strickler, programs coordinator for the Institute of Law, Psychiatry and Public Policy, nominated Martin, saying his actions show he understands the moral foundations of LGBT people who seek respect, dignity and equity at the University, in the community and in the commonwealth.
“LGBT University employees had already been in sustained conversation with Dr. Martin about numerous issues of concern before his current leadership and have continued in conversation with him,” Strickler wrote in nominating Martin.
One of the issues was the lack of a reliable locus for bringing concerns, whether to a person or a place. “Through Dr. Martin’s dedication to listening to concerns, bringing fresh ideas forward to enact improvements and organizing efforts productively, LGBT concerns, once poorly heard, have a sustained voice through the LGBT Committee of the Diversity Council.”
In addition, the Office for Diversity and Equity sponsored a fall reception welcoming LGBT and allied communities; supported participation of LGBT and allied faculty, staff and students in the gay rights organization, Equality Virginia, and in other programs; and built bridges for LGBT issues across the University, particularly at administrative levels.
Martin received the award Oct. 20 at the annual Serpentine Society Award Gala in Washington, D.C. Strickler, who earned three master’s degrees at U.Va., received the group’s Outstanding Service Award at the event.
“Being honored with the Ally of the Year Award means a lot to me,” Martin said, “but could not have happened without the great support that I receive from so many individuals around the U.Va. Grounds, from the community and from the wonderful alumni and organizations that stand for inclusion, diversity, equity and access.
“As an LGBT ally, it is my goal to ensure that the University of Virginia is truly a welcoming, inclusive and affirming place for all members of our community.”