Inclusive Excellence Award Winners Honored

Inclusive Excellence Award Winners Honored

By Alexis BlueUniversity Communications
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Richard Ruiz
Richard Ruiz
William Yslas Vélez
William Yslas Vélez
Catalina Carlos
Catalina Carlos

Three University of Arizona employees, a campus office and a student organization have been honored with 2009 Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Awards.

Given by the Office of the Special Advisor to the President for Diversity and Inclusion, the awards recognize individuals and groups who have helped enhance academic excellence at the UA by helping to create a diverse campus community through inclusive programs or leadership.

The award is named for former UA President Peter Likins, who was the first honoree in 2005.

Likins "captured the spirit of the awards when he said 'diversity is essential for excellence,'" said Raji Rhys, the special advisor to UA President Robert N. Shelton on diversity and inclusion. "The people we are honoring are the creators of quality – quality educational experiences for our students, quality research to solve some of our society's most complex problems, and quality engagement with the community to fulfill the UA's crucial land grant mission."

Shelton presented awards to the following winners during a dessert reception at the Student Union Memorial Center on Tuesday.

Richard Ruiz
Associate professor, language, reading and culture

Ruiz has been a Faculty Fellow since 2001, assigned to the Adalberto Guerrero Center of Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs. Since becoming a Faculty Fellow, he has opted to have his stipend placed into an account used to benefit UA students, funding the purchase of school and research supplies and airfare to conferences on topics including diversity and education and ethnic studies. As a Faculty Fellow, he has encouraged faculty-student interaction by sponsoring meals through Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs and has helped promote cultural appreciation by securing discounted student tickets for campus events like music and dance performances. As a member of the College of Education's language, reading and culture department, he has advocated for the admission, financial support and recognition of both domestic and international students. He also created a tutoring program with the athletics department, in which he supervises football team members who serve as math tutors for their teammates.

William Yslas Vélez
University Distinguished Professor, mathematics

Vélez earned all of his degrees from the UA – a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in mathematics and a minor in physics in 1968, a master's degree in mathematics in 1972 and a doctorate in mathematics in 1975. Vélez began his efforts to help Hispanic students in the mid-1980s, when he served as faculty adviser to the UA student chapter of the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers. In 1994, he began a three-year term as president of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science. In the late 1980s, Vélez noticed that the UA had been graduating about one minority student with a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics every other year and began efforts to increase participation of minority students in mathematics-based careers by creating the Minority Calculus Advising Program. In 2003, Vélez became associate head of the mathematics department, taking charge of the undergraduate mathematics major. Of the 562 mathematics majors for this academic year, 22 percent are minority students.

Catalina Carlos
Adviser for equity, access and inclusion, Office of Admissions

Born in Cananea, Sonora, Mexico, as the youngest of three children, Carlos and her parents immigrated to Tucson when she was 9 years old. She graduated from Flowing Wells High School in 2000 and graduated from the UA in 2005 with a degree in retailing and consumer sciences, with a minor in business administration. As an undergraduate, she was actively involved with the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, serving as president of the UA student chapter her senior year. She became an undergraduate admissions counselor in the Office of Admissions after graduating and currently works with the director of undergraduate admissions as the adviser for equity, access and inclusion. In her position she has worked with, and provided resources to, many diverse populations of prospective students. She also has been appointed by the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers as the organization's National Affairs Committee chairwoman.

The Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs
College of Medicine

The College of Medicine's Office of Outreach and Multicultural Affairs was established in 1969 under the college's founding dean, Dr. Merlin K. DuVal. With a mission to "foster, develop and nurture a diverse and culturally competent health care workforce to care for the health needs of the citizens of Arizona," the office works with local, state and national partners to provide outreach, advance diversity in academic medicine and help meet the health care needs of Arizona's diverse population. Some of the office's best-known programs include the Med-Start Summer Program, the FRONTERA Summer Internship and the Arizona Applicant Academy. The office provides resources and support for several preprofessional clubs at the UA and Arizona State University and participates in many special projects, including the Association of American Medical Colleges' AspiringDocs, a research-based outreach initiative to raise awareness of the critical need for more diversity in medicine and to encourage well-prepared African-American, Latino/a and American Indian students to apply to and enroll in medical school.

Social Justice Symposium Planning Committee
Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and the Mexican American Studies & Research Center

Each year, students organize, plan and stage the Social Justice Symposium, which is designed to bring together faculty, students, community members and health professionals to address topics related to social justice. The symposium's four core goals are raising awareness, expanding consciousness, addressing misconceptions and exchanging critical analysis about how social injustice impacts health outcomes. This year's symposium theme was "In Solidarity: Paving Paths to Action." The organizing committee was led by College of Public Health students Phoebe Long and Keisha Robinson, who served as co-chairs. More information about this year's event and the 2010 symposium, is available on the College of Public Health Web site.

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