MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will honor the eighth annual winners of its Regents’ Diversity Awards on Feb. 5 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.
This year’s winners are:
- Individual: Chia Youyee Vang, Associate Professor, History, UW-Milwaukee.
With about 600 Hmong American students enrolled at UW-Milwaukee (UWM) each year, Vang initiated and developed an innovative, interdisciplinary Hmong Diaspora certificate program that provides opportunities for students to learn about Hmong cultural history, language and heritage. As part of this effort, she also assisted other faculty members to incorporate Hmong-related materials into their courses. Vang mentors Southeast Asian American students through rigorous undergraduate research projects, and has broadened the worldview of UWM students through study abroad Winterim experiences in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam. Demonstrating her commitment to collaboration, Vang has served on community boards, spoken at many events across the Milwaukee area, and offers her expertise to the state’s growing Hmong community. Vang is a previous recipient of a UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award.
- Team: 4-H SySTEMatics Program, UW-Extension, with UW Colleges.
The SySTEMatics program, created from an innovative partnership led by the Milwaukee County UW-Extension 4-H Youth Development team and working with UW-Waukesha Continuing Education, is designed to bring low-income 7th and 8th-grade students into the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). Focusing on Latino and African-American youth, as well as girls, SySTEMatics started as a pilot program in 2010-11 on the south side of Milwaukee with two schools and 20 youth members participating. It has since grown to include UW-Richland with seven participating schools and almost 150 youth. Students in the program complete university-researched hands-on 4-H science and engineering experiments at their school sites. They also learn about higher education resources, the college application process, financial planning, academic and career exploration through pre-college activities at their schools and through campus visits.
- Institution/Unit: Multicultural Student Services, UW-Stout.
Led by Barbara Miller, Multicultural Student Services (MSS) has a strong record of reaching out to underrepresented minority (URM) students at UW-Stout to help them to succeed by addressing their personal, academic, financial, cultural and career needs. In 2014-15, MSS had more than 3,700 individual contacts with underrepresented minority students and over 8,900 student contacts within groups and workshops. In the last five years, total enrollment of URM students at UW-Stout has increased by 25 percent, while the number of URM graduates has increased by 30 percent. In the same time period, the six-year graduation gap between URM students and the overall university population decreased by 10.7 percent. Through the Stoutward Bound program, a living and learning community dedicated to URM students, MSS regularly collaborates with faculty, university housing, academic advisement, Dean of Students office and many other departments to eliminate the equity gap of its participants. MSS also is committed to increasing college readiness of young Wisconsin students through innovative precollege programs.
“The people and programs we honor with our Regents’ Diversity Awards show what can happen when innovative thinking, determination and a commitment to change come together with a goal of expanding opportunity for historically underrepresented student populations,” said Regent José Vásquez, who chaired the special Regents’ committee to determine the winners. “We recognize and salute these award recipients for their leadership in helping students develop their talents and contribute to their communities.”
Other members of the selection committee included Regent Tony Evers, Regent Eve Hall, and Regent Drew Petersen.
The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on Feb. 5, in conjunction with the Board of Regents meeting in Madison. Each winner will receive funding to support professional development or to continue the program being honored.