The Women of Color in the Academy Project is presenting the 2014 Shirley Verrett Award to Charles (OyamO) Gordon, professor of English language and literature, LSA; and theatre and drama, School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

The award ceremony will be from 5-6 p.m. Jan. 30 at Stamps Auditorium on North Campus. A reception at 4:30 p.m. will precede the presentation.


The program will include performances by opera singer Marcia Porter, cousin and student of Shirley Verrett, and by Daniel Washington, U-M’s associate dean for faculty and multi-cultural affairs and professor of voice.

The Shirley Verrett Award, named after the late U-M professor and world-renowned African-American opera singer, is given to a faculty member whose work supports the success of female students or faculty in the arts and who come from diverse cultural and racial backgrounds.

OyamO, a celebrated playright, is praised both for his attention to and mentoring of students, as well as his “understanding of human life past racial and ethnic differences.”

He holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Yale School of Drama and has been the recipient of multiple fellowships. His plays have been performed in theaters across the country.

WOCAP also will pay tribute to Lester Monts, senior vice provost for academic affairs, and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Music (Ethnomusicology), for his unwavering support and advocacy for WOCAP, and his vision for establishing the Shirley Verrett Award as a way of keeping her legacy alive at U-M.

This event is free and open to the public but registration is requested. A shuttle bus from Central Campus is being arranged and more details will be sent to registrants.

WOCAP was founded by a group of female faculty of color at the university in 1994. It is funded by the Office of the Provost and administered through the Center for the Education of Women.

The goals of WOCAP are to:

• Highlight the contributions women of color faculty make to the university community and to society at large.

• Build a campuswide network of women of color faculty that serves as a support system for their research undertakings, academic career development, and enhanced career satisfaction, thus supporting their retention.

• Advocate on behalf of women of color faculty, graduate students and postdocs by working collectively for progressive institutional change with the goal of creating healthy and equitable environments in which to engage in scholarly activity.

• Serve as a model for future recruitment and retention programs for women of color faculty at both national and international levels.