University to Celebrate Diversity Advocates, Contributions at Ceremony

Dr. George Faire

Dr. George Fair

UT Dallas will host the seventh annual Diversity Awards Ceremony and Soirée on Friday to honor student, faculty, staff and business leaders who have helped create a welcoming and inclusive environment on campus.

The ceremony will feature music, poetry and dance performances and food from around the world. It will be from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Davidson Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are available here.

“The Diversity Awards Ceremony and Soirée is a celebration of the many contributions being made to promote diversity at UT Dallas,” said Dr. George Fair, vice president for diversity and community engagement and dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies. “We are grateful for the work that these students, faculty and staff and community leaders are doing to advance the University’s commitment to diversity.”

Award recipients have contributed through community service, teaching, research and by creating opportunities for graduates.

Alba Ramirez, who will receive the Student Diversity Award, chartered the Latina service-based sorority Kappa Delta Chi at UT Dallas. Through the sorority, Ramirez has led a canned food drive for the Comet Cupboard and a blood drive for the American Red Cross, among other projects. The speech-language pathology and audiology senior also serves on the Multicultural Greek Council.

Two faculty members will receive diversity inclusive teaching awards: Dr. Meghna Sabharwal, associate professor of public affairs in the School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences; and Mary Beth Goodrich, senior lecturer in accounting in the Naveen Jindal School of Management.

2016 Diversity Awards Recipients

Student Diversity Award
Alba Ramirez, speech-language pathology and audiology senior

Student Organization Diversity Award
Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority

Community Champion of Diversity Award 
Jeff Leach, talent acquisition, Raytheon Co.

Corporate Diversity Award
Rockwell Collins

Staff Diversity Award
Mary Jane Partain, founding director, UT Dallas Living Learning Communities

Inclusive Excellence and Intercultural Engagement Teaching Award
Dr. Meghna Sabharwal, associate professor of public affairs
Mary Beth Goodrich, senior lecturer in accounting

“I have a heart for diversity. Everyone benefits when we build on diversity. For this reason, I strive to incorporate multicultural learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom,” Goodrich said.

Sabharwal said that she is honored to be recognized for her efforts.

“While diversity is one of the most important aspects in any organization, I believe it is not a numbers game,” Sabharwal said. “It goes beyond making sure we have the appropriate representation of various groups across all levels of the organization. Diversity is about creating inclusive environments where everyone feels welcome and their opinions and perspectives are valued.”

The Staff Diversity Award will be presented to Mary Jane Partain, founding director of the UT Dallas Living Learning Communities. In addition, Jeff Leach will receive a Community Champion of Diversity Award for his work as a recruiter for Raytheon engineering and finance.

Rockwell Collins will receive the Corporate Diversity Award for its support of several diversity programs at the University, including scholarships and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Camp.

Dr. Kenneth Pugh, audiologist and clinical associate professor at the Callier Center for Communication Disorders, will serve as master of ceremonies. Lennin Murillo, a mechanical engineering senior and Diversity Scholarship recipient, will give a testimonial at the event.

Winners of the Slam Poetry Diversity Competition also will perform their works. They include L’Aunjanee Carriere and Danielle Edmonds, first place; Zackary Gentry and Danny Gentile, second place; Aneeta Xavier and Katherine Mayfield, third place.

The event, hosted by the Office of Diversity and Community Engagement, will feature performances by the South Asian a cappella ensemble Dhunki, UT Dallas Jazz Ensemble, African Student Union Dancers, Edd M Philippine Dance Company, a mariachi band and dancers from the Bangladeshi Student Organization.

The celebration benefits the University’s Diversity Retention Scholarship Program, which serves a diverse group of students who are in the later years of their undergraduate education. The Office of Diversity and Community Engagement oversees a range of programs to promote diversity, including the Academic Bridge Program. UT Dallas has one of the top 25 most ethnically diverse student populations in the country, according to U.S. News & World Report

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].