Faculty members, school, advocacy groups to be honored


Four University of Michigan faculty members, a school and two advocacy groups will be honored next month with awards for their efforts to support women, diversity and equity.

U-M’s Academic Women’s Caucus has awarded its 2024 Sarah Goddard Power Award to Ruth Behar, Yan Chen, Amanda Esquivel and Holly Hughes for their significant contributions to the betterment of women.

The Marsal Family School of Education will receive the group’s Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award in recognition of its sustainable, systemic infrastructures within the school around recruiting, retaining and supporting a faculty that represents the diversity of our society in multiple ways.

The Center for the Education of Women+ administers the awards for AWC. This year, CEW+’s Carol Hollenshead Inspire Award for Excellence in Promoting Equity and Social Change will be presented at the ceremony as well.

Two U-M advocacy groups — Disabilities, Research, Education and Advocacy Movement, and Braids Twists and Surgical Knots — will receive awards.

All three awards will be presented from 3-5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Michigan League’s Ballroom. The ceremony will include a carillon concert from 5-5:30 p.m. Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra will perform her original work, “Empower,” in honor of Goddard Power.

Sarah Goddard Power Award

Named after the late regent Sarah Goddard Power, the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the betterment of women through their leadership, scholarship or other ways in their professional life.

This year’s Sarah Goddard Power Award recipients are:

  • Ruth Behar, James W. Fernandez Distinguished University Professor of Anthropology and professor of anthropology, LSA.
  • Yan Chen, Daniel Kahneman Collegiate Professor of Information and professor of information, School of Information; and a Distinguished Visiting Professor of Economics at Tsinghua University.
  • Amanda Esquivel, associate professor of mechanical engineering, UM-Dearborn.
  • Holly Hughes, professor of art and design, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design; professor of theatre and drama, School of Music, Theatre & Dance; and professor of women’s studies, LSA.

“Ruth Behar’s service at the University of Michigan includes decades of advocacy for women in her field and in the social sciences generally,” Kelly Askew, chair of the anthropology department, wrote in a nominating letter. “Behar is an inspiration to women scholars and authors also seeking to combine scholarly and artistic work.”

In recent years Behar has begun writing coming-of-age novels for readers of all ages that explore the transition from girlhood to womanhood.

Erin Krupka, associate professor of information in UMSI, said Yan Chen has published in numerous leading economic journals.

“However, an accounting of her contributions to her community would be grossly incomplete without describing her enduring commitment to addressing and removing barriers faced by women and underrepresented minorities in economics and the social sciences,” Krupa wrote in a nominating letter.

Oleg Zikanov, chair of the mechanical engineering department at UM-Dearborn, has observed Amanda Esquivel’s impact on female students in engineering.

Esquivel’s research on understanding and prevention of orthopedic and sport-related injuries that disproportionately affect women and girls both shapes “her role as a champion of greater inclusion of women in engineering,” and “shows the significant impact of gender differences on the prevalence, biomechanics, and approaches to prevention of injuries,” Zikanov said in a nominating letter.

“(Holly) Hughes has been a leading contributor to American performance, especially feminist and queer work, for many decades,” said Heidi Kumao, professor of art and design in the Stamps School, who submitted Hughes’ nomination.

In collaboration with other professors of theatre and art, Hughes created the undergraduate program known as Interarts.

“The majority of students in the program are women or queer, and Hughes validates them while challenging them to create meaningful work,” Kumao wrote.

Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award

The Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award supports a longstanding vision of increasing the number of diverse women in the academy.

Named after late vice provost Rhetaugh Dumas, it recognizes outstanding institutional initiative in demonstrating notable progress by academic units in achieving ethnic, racial and gender diversity among those pursuing and achieving tenure as professors, clinical professors, research professors and research scientists.

The Marsal School has developed an intentional faculty hiring process that has resulted in a significant increase in the percentage of faculty members who Black, Indigenous and people of color or other underrepresented minorities.

It took action to improve the climate and culture of the school by assessing the invisible labor of such faculty members by including questions in the faculty annual review related to invisible labor in the categories of identity-based activities, care work and special requests.

It also worked closely with ADVANCE to conduct a salary equity analysis as part of its annual merit raise program. The school also has implemented “launch committees” to guide new faculty and assist them with navigating the rules — written and unwritten — of the academy, followed by assignment of faculty mentors.

Carol Hollenshead Inspire Award for Excellence in Promoting Equity and Social Change

In honor of former director Carol Hollenshead’s 20-year tenure at the Center for the Education of Women, CEW+ created the Carol Hollenshead Inspire Award for Excellence in Promoting Equity and Social Change.

Awardees are faculty, staff and students (either an individual or a group) whose sustained efforts have resulted in greater equity with regard to gender, race, class, age, disability, gender identity or sexual orientation. The two winning groups will present talks at the awards ceremony Feb. 7. They are:

DREAM — Disabilities, Research, Education and Advocacy Movement

DREAM was founded in 2019 to empower persons with disabilities and their allies in the underresourced and predominantly Arab-American population of Dearborn. A hallmark of DREAM’s efforts focuses on amplifying the voices of those with disabilities through its dedicated podcast platform, “Discovering Disabilities in Dearborn.”

The podcast offers an inclusive space where guests with disabilities are invited to share their personal narratives and lived experiences. Through these conversations, DREAM aims to educate, foster understanding, and nurture unity within the Arab American community about varying disabilities.

BTSK — Braids Twists and Surgical Knots: Piloting a Culturally-Centered Pathway to Medicine

Using the concept of “community-centered intervention,” the BTSK initiative encourages young Black girls to consider a career in surgery by connecting it to the culturally significant topic of Black hair.

By partnering with a professional salon and connecting surgery to ethnically relevant hairstyling, the goal is to meet Black girls where they are and help them see the skills they may already possess as valuable and easily transferable to the surgical field.

BTSK, in its efforts to connect surgery with Black hair, attempts to rewrite the historical narrative of Black hair — one plagued by imposter syndrome and feelings of inadequacy — into one that equips and empowers.



  1. Domenico Grasso
    on January 18, 2024 at 6:47 am

    Congratulations Amanda on this well deserved recognition of your outstanding efforts. We are all proud of you!

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