MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will honor the fourth annual winners of its Regents Diversity Awards on February 10 in Madison. The awards program was established by the Board to recognize and support individuals and programs in the UW System that foster access and success in university life for historically underrepresented populations.
The awards honor winners in three distinct categories. This year’s winners are:
- Individual category: Irma Burgos, Director of the Center for Academic Support and Diversity, UW-Oshkosh. Burgos’ commitment to the educational success of students of color attending UW-Oshkosh spans more than two decades. In that time, she has held numerous positions (advisor, counselor, career planner, tutor coordinator, and program manager) and carried out responsibilities aimed at increasing the retention and graduation rates of students of color. The Multicultural Retention Programs Tracker initiative, which Burgos developed, is an early warning system to alert campus staff, faculty, and administrators when students of color are struggling academically or socially. Burgos previously received the TRIO Achievers Award, the UW System Women of Color Award, and the 2011 College of Letters and Science Diversity Award.
- Team category: UW-Eau Claire Honors Program. To address an honors population that previously was dominantly white, Director Jeff Vahlbusch and Faculty Fellow David Jones developed and implemented, with the help of a campus-wide team, an innovative holistic admissions pilot project that takes into account other factors such as service and extra-curricular activities in addition to academic performance and potential. Since 2009, when the program was revamped, representation of students of color in the UW-Eau Claire Honors Program has increased from 1.7% to 9.6% in 2010. As a result, a larger number of deserving and capable students are taking part in high-impact practices that are known to be powerful in enhancing student learning and success.
- Institution/unit category: UW-Green Bay’s First Nations Studies Program. The interdisciplinary degree program works collaboratively with the Oneida, Menominee, Mohican (Stockbridge-Munsee), and Brotherton Nations to break down stereotypes and foster a greater understanding of First Nations peoples in Wisconsin. First Nations Studies incorporates the teaching and learning approaches of tribal people, offering students a new way to learn within the academy. The program emphasizes the oral tradition of First Nations people as preserved and shared by tribal Elders. In partnership with UW-Green Bay’s Professional Program in Education, the First Nations Studies program also has created an innovative Fusion model to teach teachers how to deliver culturally relevant instruction about the history, culture, and tribal sovereignty of First Nations people. The program has grown almost 30 majors and minors in five years.
“The people and programs we are honoring with our Regents Diversity Awards are shining examples of how innovative thinking and dedication can come together to impact students’ lives in very real ways,” said Regent Judy Crain, who chaired the special Regents’ committee to determine the winners. “While their methods may differ, they all share a keen respect for human differences, attentiveness to the learning process, and responsiveness to students and their educational needs. We are proud to recognize their accomplishments.”
Other Regents on the committee include Regent Edmund Manydeeds and Regent Chuck Pruitt.
The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on Feb. 10, in conjunction with the Board of Regents meeting. Each winner will receive funding to support professional development or to continue the program being honored.
# # #