MADISON, Wis. – The University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents will honor the sixth annual winners of its Regents’ Diversity Awards on Feb. 7 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: Roger Haro, Professor of Biology, UW-La Crosse.Drawing on his own experience as a first-generation undergraduate student of color, Dr. Haro has played a key role in working with and developing UW-L’s programs for underrepresented students in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) fields. Dr. Haro is director of both the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate program, which provides eligible students with support and preparation for graduate school, and the First-Year Research Exposure (FYRE) program, preparing students to succeed in the “gateway” science and math courses that often pose challenges to their retention in STEM disciplines. He has been closely involved in the UW System’s Equity Scorecard study, which employs quantifiable data to evaluate equity in access, retention, academic excellence, and institutional receptivity between students of color and their majority peers. Dr. Haro also has been a leader among faculty in promoting a broad spectrum of diversity issues at UW-L, serving numerous times as chair of the Joint Minority Affairs Committee. He serves as a mentor to many students, faculty and staff at UW-L, and has initiated several grant proposals resulting in millions of dollars in funding and additional research opportunities. The student organization Students Advocating for Potential Ability has nominated Dr. Haro three times for the Most Accessible Instructor Award.
- Individual: Brett Carlton Woods, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences, UW-Whitewater.Dr. Woods joined the UW-Whitewater faculty in 2008, after several years as a biology professor at Beloit College, where he helped forge alliances between the private college and several UW institutions to support minority students in the STEM fields. He is currently the director of the Wisconsin Alliance for Minority Participation (WiscAMP) program at UW-Whitewater, and says his main goal is a committed pipeline approach to the recruitment and retention of a more diverse population of students, with an emphasis on recruiting underrepresented minority students into the university’s science programs. He has been involved with creating and supporting programs at UW-Whitewater such as part-time research assistantships and summer boot camps to help reduce racial/ethnic disparities in STEM participation, retention, and graduation by providing focused attention on underserved populations, while also evaluating the university’s approaches and generating data for best practices. Recognizing the vital importance of diversity in all its forms to help faculty be better teachers and students to be better learners, Dr. Woods also has worked to pair students with faculty mentors. He has been the Principal Investigator (PI) or co-PI on grants totaling more than $150,000 in support of students of color in STEM fields.
- Team: Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE), University of Wisconsin-Madison.UW-Madison’s PEOPLE program is considered one of the most comprehensive talent-development diversity scholarship pipelines for underrepresented, economically disadvantaged, and first-generation students in the country. Nationwide, statistics continue to show a disproportionately low percentage of students of color and low-income students enroll in and graduate from college, while numerous studies have demonstrated enrollment and graduation rates can be increased by pre-college programs. Since the program’s inception in 1999, participation has grown from 66 Milwaukee high school students to over 1,300 students, 2nd through 16th grade levels, from across the state, including all federally recognized Native American tribes in the state of Wisconsin. Pre-college activities include K-12 student exposure to potential college majors and career options, afterschool tutoring services in core areas, informal mentoring, college preparation services, and Family Leadership Councils to provide families with the tools and knowledge necessary to support their children’s educational experiences. College-level activities include a summer bridge program, which offers orientation, advising, and other support. Under the leadership of executive director Jacqueline DeWalt and assistant directors Carl Wesley Jr. and Goodson Vue, the PEOPLE program has achieved outcomes that include a 95 percent enrollment rate into institutions of higher education for pre-college program participants and a 71 percent six-year graduation rate for those who are accepted into UW-Madison.
“The individuals and programs we selected for this year’s Regents’ Diversity Awards are creating a ripple effect of opportunity for historically underrepresented student populations,” said Regent John Drew, who chaired the special Regents’ committee to determine the winners. “It’s an honor to recognize their unwavering commitment to helping all students realize their full potential, contribute their talents, and inspire future generations.”
Other members of the selection committee included Regent Tracy Hribar, Regent Edmund Manydeeds, and Regent José Vásquez.
The winners will be honored at an awards ceremony on Feb. 7, in conjunction with the Board of Regents meeting. Each winner will receive funding to support professional development or to continue the program being honored.