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2016 President's Distinguished Diversity Awards

Continuing the tradition that began in 2012, this year’s President’s Distinguished Diversity Awards (PDDA) were given to members of the UTSA community who have made substantial contributions to its diverse culture. Faculty member and Director for the Women Studies Institute, Dr. Sonia Saldivar Hull, graduate student Francis Garner and the African American Studies Symposium Committee, were recognized for their efforts in promoting diversity and inclusivity in the UTSA community. The awards were presented April 14th at University Excellence Awards Ceremony.

Sonia Saldivar Hullhull

As the founder and Executive Director for the Women’s Studies Institute (WSI) since 2003, Dr. Saldívar-Hull has taken the lead on developing a uniquely diverse and intellectually rigorous student-centered institute on campus. Her leadership at the WSI has prompted the sponsorship of a variety of lectures, conferences, and student-centered discussions about gender and its many intersections with race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, and ability. One of the most impressive projects under her direction, Women’s History Month, is a series of invited lectures and activities that promote awareness about women’s issues, multiculturalism, and social justice. While other Gender Studies programs and Women’s Studies research centers across the nation usually celebrate women’s history month (in March) with a few lectures and/or a single week of activities, Dr. Saldívar-Hull has consistently ensured that the UTSA community has access to a month-long program filled with a myriad of opportunities to celebrate women’s history and accomplishments.
In addition to her work with the WSI, Dr. Saldívar-Hull also has initiated and established the Women’s Studies Program (WSP), which includes the Women’s Studies major and minor, in 2008. This degree-granting program at UTSA inherently enhances how we think about diversity and inclusion by emphasizing the pursuit of a global understanding of the lives of women and issues of gender in diverse cultures and across time.

Francis Garnergarner

Francis Garner, a UTSA alum and current College of Business graduate student was a part of the student committee that created the first MALE (Men Achieving Leadership & Excellence) Summit in 2014.  This was an opportunity for male students to come together in community and focus on academic excellence and leadership while building positive mentoring relationships.  The Summit had a great impact on the students who attended the one day conference.  It was especially important to students from underrepresented groups to be that were aware of the low retention and graduation rates among their peers based on the data and research provided at the Summit.  Upon receiving the PDDA award, Francis stated “It was truly an honor to be recognized by my university, not because of my personal achievement, but because it brought awareness to the problems black males face while pursuing higher education.” In addition to the MALE summit, Garner worked to create a student conference for the University Center student staff, and served as a facilitator for the the Student Leadership Center’s LeaderShape program. His continued effort proves that his work to create opportunities for students and serving as a student advocate is far from finished.

African American Studies
Symposium Committee

The recipients of the President’s Distinguished Diversity Award for faculty/staff group is the African American Studies Symposium committee which is made up of UTSA faculty and staff members Rhonda Gonzales, Joycelyn Moody, Sonja Lanehart, Scott Sherer, and Deborah Thomas.
The symposium was designed to provide an annual opportunity to engage with national scholars about the most current research and academic trends relevant to the lives of Black people in the United States. The event also enhances diversity within the university because the event itself centers critical race analysis; promotes multicultural understanding and cross-cultural competence; fosters an inclusive environment for dialogue (especially impressive as it brings faculty and students together for this dialogue); and creates a compelling vision for audience members about transformative leadership – as students meet potential mentors and professors in this exciting and collegial environment. Job well done to the committee as they continue to put on an excellent event for the larger campus community.

The President’s Distinguished Diversity Award (PDDA) was created at The University of Texas at San Antonio in 2011. The inaugural awards were presented at the first ever combined University Excellence Awards Ceremony in 2012, an inclusive ceremony to highlight the achievements of both faculty and staff. The PDDA was developed by the office of the Associate Provost for Diversity and Recruitment along with a committee comprised of faculty, staff, and student representation. In the five years of its existence, the awards have allowed UTSA to uphold the university's rich tradition of multiculturalism and serve as a model in promoting diversity and inclusion in creative and collaborative ways. Nominations for the 2017 President’s Distinguished Diversity Award will be accepted beginning December 2016.