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Three inaugural President's Distinguished Diversity Awards are presented

The inaugural President’s Distinguished Diversity Awards were presented April 10 at the 2012 University Excellence Awards Ceremony. English professor Joycelyn Moody, student Charles Miles, and the Academy for Teacher Excellence in the College of Education and Human Development all were honored for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion.

“We received a number of great nominations for the first year of this new award program,” said Lisa Firmin, associate provost for faculty and student diversity and recruitment. “The members of the selection committee felt strongly that these three recipients best exemplified UTSA’s values and tradition of multiculturalism. We are so happy to be able to recognize them and their work.”

Joycelyn Moody, professor and Susan E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature in the Department of English in the College of Liberal and Fine Arts, incorporates diversity awareness initiatives into her curriculum and encourages students to celebrate their differences.

She is the founder of the African American Studies Spring Symposium and the African American Literatures and Cultures Institute, which brings eight under-represented undergraduate scholars from around the nation to UTSA each summer. This program helps students prepare for graduate school and provides a network of support to help them finish their graduate pursuits.

Across campus, Moody frequently hosts and supports lectures, symposia and forums to advance the study of diversity including race, gender, sexuality, culture and ability.

The award for the Academy for Teacher Excellence (ATE) was given to principal staff Belinda Bustos Flores, Ellen Riojas Clark, Betty Travis, Lorena Claeys, Maria Kaylor, Mary Riedel, Norma Guerra and Lucretia Fraga.

ATE has received state and national recognition for research and work preparing educators who are trained to understand the cultural learning needs of their students.

They created a model used to establish relationships between school districts, service centers, community colleges and community groups with the intent to improve education for Latinos, under-represented students and low-income students.

The academy team often collaborates with offices across UTSA to investigate and improve Latino student graduation rates, especially in the science, technology, engineering and math — or STEM — areas.

Finally, student Charles Miles founded a student organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning students. His goal was to bring together GLBTQ students and supporting individuals to help build a stronger campus community. This grassroots initiative is dedicated to transforming student culture, enhancing student awareness, and giving back to the community.

The group’s initiatives included developing on-campus events for National Coming Out Day and National Day of Silence. It also organized an Ally Mixer and Ally Meeting to promote gay-straight alliances on campus, and it hosted the university’s first Gay Prom.

Charles also serves as a student representative on the GLBTQ Scholarship committee.

Local artist Raul Servin worked with the selection committee to create an image that would capture a vision of diversity. According to committee chair, Lisa Firmin, “Servin exceeded the committee’s expectations and created an outstanding colorful design that clearly illustrates how all individuals are unique and inter-connected.  His design will be used by my office in the marketing of the President’s Distinguished Diversity Awards program and potentially other diversity related programming.”