CWU community celebrates 10th annual President’s Diversity Awards

  • March 13, 2024
  • David Leder

One of Central Washington University’s signature events took place on the Ellensburg campus last Thursday, bringing together faculty, staff, students, alumni, and community members to celebrate the institution’s commitment to being a model learning community of equity and belonging.

The 10th annual President’s Diversity Awards, hosted by the President’s Office and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusivity, honors members of the CWU and Ellensburg communities who have shown outstanding commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging efforts at the university and in their personal lives.

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Nominees were submitted by the CWU community in February and then reviewed by the Executive Leadership Team (ELT). Awardees were selected for four categories—student, staff, faculty, community—along with the recipient of the fifth annual Bobby Cummings Lifetime Achievement Award.

“These exceptional individuals have worked in partnership and collaboration across all university divisions and within the local community to promote diversity, equity and inclusion through social justice initiatives, events and programs,” said CWU President Jim Wohlpart, who hosted the event with support from fellow ELT members and award presenters Margaret Ortega, Andrew Morse, Kurt Kirstein, and Staci Sleigh-Layman.

diversity-awards-main-4.jpg“They also have made a sustained commitment to promoting a shared sense of belonging over time, helping integrate inclusion into their everyday decisions and actions,” Wohlpart added.

The March 7 ceremony, held in the SURC Ballroom, featured a keynote address by Rosa Clemente, an award-winning organizer, speaker, political commentator, producer, independent journalist, scholar-activist, and one-time candidate for vice president.


But the highlight of the night was undoubtedly the 14 individuals and one staff team who were presented with a coveted President’s Diversity Award.

“All of our nominees represent what is best about our institution, and they reflect CWU’s ongoing commitment to being a diverse, welcoming place where everyone feels like they belong,” Wohlpart said, adding that he believes this commitment is among the most critical elements of CWU’s vision.

He pointed to some of the ways the CWU community has embraced DEI-focused initiatives since his arrival in 2021, but he conceded that “we must take our work to the next level, to build a community where every individual feels like they are welcomed for the person they are and the person they are becoming.”

teresa-divine-diversity-awards.jpegOne of the key drivers of this work at Central over the years has been Distinguished Professor of Law and Justice Teresa Divine, the 2024 Bobby Cummings Award recipient.


Wohlpart commended Divine’s advocacy and social justice work, which is reflected in her many community service-learning projects since joining the faculty nearly 20 years ago. She was a faculty advisor of Black Student Union and established the first of Central’s ethnic graduations — the Black Student Union Graduation — in 2006 to provide a welcoming family space where African-American graduates could be recognized and honored.

“Teresa has dedicated her career to creating a community of equity and belonging for not only our BIPOC students, but she has also worked to elevate the needs of our Muslim students, ensuring access to food, space, and services during religious observances,” Wohlpart said.

“She is a powerful ally of LGBTQ+ students and colleagues, organizing teach-ins and events, and advocating for safe spaces for them on campus. Her commitment to our students has been remarkable.”

 

2024 President’s Diversity Awards recipients

Bobby Cummings Lifetime Achievement Award: Teresa Divine

Student Awards: Angela Eustaquio and Maura Santamaria Muñoz

Community Awards: Tylene Carnell, Nan Doolittle, and Rolf Williams

Faculty Awards: Timothy Beng, Andrea Herrera-Dulcet, Nelson Pichardo Almanzar, and Griff Tester

Staff Awards: Carolina Barr, Wendy Holden, Chad Schone, Katrina Whitney, and the Student Health Services Primary Care Team of Kristen Jentges, Kerri Larson, Carolyn Porter, and Lisa Vickers

 

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