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Chancellor presents diversity-community achievement awards


By Dateline staff

Photo: Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and award recipients

Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and the award recipients, from left: Standing -- Jann Murray-Garcia, John Ortiz-Hutson, James Angus Chandler, Hector Cuevas, Siria Martinez, Tammy Hoyer, Gail Martinez, Amanda Gonzalez, Mohammad "Moe" Mohanna and Ana Corbacho (and her daughter, Sammie). Sitting -- Marco Molinaro, Lynne Arcangel, Chancellor Katehi, Suad Joseph and Raynell Hamilton. Not pictured: Renee Maldonado. (Karin Higgins/UC Davis)

The Chancellor’s Achievement Awards for Diversity and Community this year recognized more than double the number of people, with a special citation added for the nine-member SACNAS planning committee.

The committee organized UC Davis’ participation in the 2011 conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, or SACNAS.

The awards presentation took place Feb. 8 at a reception at the Chancellor’s Residence, hosted by Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi and her husband, chemistry lecturer Spyros Tseregounis, and Associate Executive Vice Chancellor Rahim Reed, who leads the Office of Campus and Community Relations.

“These awards highlight the accomplishments that contribute to the development and well being of our diverse and evolving community,” said Reed, who cited each recipient’s work as a teacher or researcher or as a student or community member in service to the campus or the surrounding communities.

The traditional awards went to Suad Joseph of the Academic Senate and Jann Murray-Garcia of the Academic Federation; John Ortiz-Hutson, representing the staff; James Angus Chandler, graduate student; Amanda Gonzalez, undergraduate; and Mohammad “Moe” Mohanna, a Sacramento businessman.

Here are the awards, by category:

Academic Senate — Suad Joseph, professor of anthropology, and women and gender studies. She co-founded the Women Studies Program (now part of Women and Gender Studies), served three terms as director, and assisted in developing the minor in sexuality studies. She was the founding director of Middle East-South Asia Studies and received a Department of Education grant to launch the Arabic and Hindi/Urdu languages program, diversifying UC Davis’ offerings in non-European languages. Recently, she joined in the establishment of a consortium of UC Davis and Middle East universities for the purpose of collaborating in agriculture, law, education, medicine and business. She serves as faculty adviser to the South Asia Middle East, or SAME, student organization.

Academic Federation — Jann Murray-Garcia, assistant adjunct professor, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing. Recognized for her work in addressing racially and ethnically based disparities in young people’s health and education. She and fellow pediatrician Melanie Tervalon developed the concept of “cultural humility” as a basis for culturally inclusive care. As an independent consultant, Murray-Garcia worked with young people in the Davis school system to explore such issues as hate crimes, racism and racial inequality. Out of this research grew an award-winning documentary, “From the Community to the Classroom,” chronicling youth activism that helped transform Davis schools over the last decade. In 2011, she led the UC Davis Health System’s Summer Institute on Race and Health, for first-year medical students, and this summer nursing students also will participate.

Staff — John Ortiz-Hutson, recently retired after 23 as a student affairs officer in the African and African-American Studies Program, and now working part-time in the same position pending the hiring of a replacement. He is described as being especially adept in the cultural and social understanding of underserved students. His sensitivity to all students and innate understanding of students of African descent has earned him numerous awards and accolades. His freshmen seminar, “Performance and Culture in the African Diaspora,” assisted in acclimating students to the campus, by immediately involving them in a welcoming community, and provided them with the support needed to negotiate the institution. These seminars do all of this, while giving students a sense of pride in themselves and their cultural heritage.

Graduate student — James Angus Chandler, evolution and ecology. Recognized for his commitment to building community within the halls of academia, and building connections between scientists and the general public. In February 2009, he was the primary initiator and organizer of a Darwin Day symposium at which three faculty members delivered presentations designed for a lay audience. The symposium drew a packed house in the Varsity Theatre. He spearheaded the development of a book project, choosing a new topic each year from the fields of ecology, evolution, genetics or environmental biology. The selected book is advertised at all Yolo County libraries, and graduate students lead discussions at each branch. For the last two years, he has organized a group of undergraduates, graduate students, post-docs and faculty to make Picnic Day presentations on evolution and ecology.

Undergraduate student — Amanda Gonzalez, a pharmaceutical chemistry major who is described as being passionate about social justice and planning to pursue a career in medicine to help marginalized and underserved populations. Recognized as the “chief architect and energy” behind the campus’s 23rd annual Students of Color Conference, held last November. The conference drew more than 1,000 California students, including representatives from all 10 UC campuses, as well as delegates from other universities. She helped raise more than $60,000 to fund the conference, and collaborated on the project with more than 20 UC Davis departments. She is a product of the Educational Opportunity Program and the Special Transitional Enrichment Program, and she is a Gates Millennium Scholar.

Community — Mohammad “Moe” Mohanna, a Sacramento businessman who, in 2004, led a UC Davis delegation to his native Iran to foster collaborations between its leading institutions and the university. The resulting connections led to several Iran-U.S.-UC Davis exchanges. Other Sacramento-area leaders followed suit, promoting university visits to Egypt, Pakistan and the Philippines. Mohanna came to the United States in his early 20s and began a career in engineering. Upon moving to Sacramento, he quickly came to the aid of homeless people, battered women and others. He is active with Loaves and Fishes and numerous other nonprofit organizations that assist disadvantaged people. For the last two winters, he has opened a warehouse to homeless people, giving them shelter and food, and he is working with city leaders on long-term, safe solutions for the homeless community.

Special citation — The SACNAS Planning Working Group, chaired by Hector Cuevas, director of outreach, recruitment and retention for Graduate Studies. The other committee members: Lynne Arcangel and Siria Martinez, Graduate Studies; Ana Corbacho and Marco Molinaro, Center for Biophotonics; Raynell Hamilton, Tammy Hoyer and Gail Martinez, Undergraduate Research Center; and Renee Maldonado, alumni volunteer.

All but one of the committee members attended the reception, and Cuevas accepted the award for the group.

UC Davis was a platinum sponsor for the SACNAS conference, held in late October. One day before the conference opened, Graduate Studies hosted nearly 100 undergraduate visitors for a day and a half of activities before the conference in San Jose.

The undergrads from around the country networked with top-ranked research professors and toured lab facilities. The campus’s SACNAS program also included a Latino/Native American community dinner, featuring a talk by the always dynamic Charlie Bamforth, brewing expert in the Department of Food Science and Technology.

“The SACNAS committee was instrumental in introducing underrepresented students in the STEM fields to the excellence in science and engineering research at UC Davis,” Reed said.

“Thank you, SACNAS committee, for your hard work in creating a welcoming program that distinguished UC Davis as a cutting edge research institution in the STEM fields."

Earlier coverage: “Campus hosts undergrads en route to science conference,” Dateline UC Davis (Oct. 27, 2011)

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