Seven receive 2017 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award


Seven faculty members whose service contributes to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse U-M community have received the 2017 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the Office of the Provost.

The recipients are:

• Patricia Coleman-Burns, School of Nursing (Lifetime Achievement Award).

• Ellen Arruda, College of Engineering.

• Anna Mapp, LSA.

• Karin Martin, LSA.

• Anthony Mora, LSA.

• Alisse Portnoy, LSA.

• Dawn Tilbury, CoE.

“The University of Michigan is incredibly fortunate to have such an outstanding group of recipients this year. Their commitment and contributions make us better as a university, and their impact on challenging issues has been invaluable,” says Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.

“I’m confident these efforts will have a lasting effect in making U-M a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.”

Established in 1996, the award is given in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work. The awards will be presented during a May 9 ceremony in which recipients will receive $5,000 towards further research, scholarship or student service opportunities.

The following profiles have been compiled from information submitted in nominations.

Patricia Coleman-Burns

Patricia Coleman-Burns

Coleman-Burns, assistant professor emerita of nursing, School of Nursing, is the second recipient of the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Lifetime Achievement Award.

Her work in nursing is dedicated to conducting a critical evaluation of race and racism, and the particular ideological work of racism in education and health care debates and social policy around the issue of racial inequality, wrote Rushika Patel, senior director for diversity, equity and inclusion.

Patel wrote her work tells the story of the challenge of African-Americans to connect with the “cultural scripts of mainstream U.S. culture” that misrepresent their lives and impact opportunities for self-determination.

“Dr. Coleman-Burns is committed to the project of correcting untruths and drawing out the often hidden facts that relay a very different view, one that is grounded in dignifying African-Americans but moreover, uncovering facts related to the contributions of African-Americans in the U.S. and the anti-racist work that must be done in the interest of black liberation,” Patel wrote.

Coleman-Burns has held many positions, including chair of the School of Nursing’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Plan implementation team, special adviser on multicultural affairs to former Nursing Dean Kathleen Potempa, director of student enrichment, interim associate dean of the office for community partnerships, and director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs in the School of Nursing.

She is the principal investigator for the GENESIS Project, which is a nationally recognized pipeline and retention project for minority and first-generation college students, identified from middle and high schools and community colleges, to increase diversity in nursing.

Coleman-Burns has also displayed a tremendous dedication to community service. She co-founded the Detroit chapter of the National Black Feminist Organization, and was president and vice president of the board of directors for the Women’s Justice Center in Detroit. She serves on the executive board of the Washtenaw County SafeHouse Center, which provides support to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.

Coleman-Burns has received several awards over her lifetime, including the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award from the Office of the Provost and University Human Resources, the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses and the Sarah Goddard Power Award.

“I would like to emphasize that Pat is truly beloved by students and the many colleagues that she has taught, mentored and helped to see diversity in an entirely new way,” wrote Nursing Dean Patricia D. Hurn, professor of nursing; and of molecular, cellular and developmental biology, LSA. “They trust her in a way that is uncommon in the complex academic world.”

Ellen Arruda

Ellen Arruda

Arruda, professor of mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering, CoE, has worked to support women faculty members in their careers, and to share her knowledge about higher education, careers and working in science and engineering with historically underrepresented student groups.

A teacher and researcher in the areas of theoretical and experimental mechanics of macromolecular materials as well as tissue engineering, Arruda helped create and implement the Big 10 Women’s Workshop in 2010, 2013 and 2016. These workshops were designed to give junior women faculty members the chance to cultivate peer collaboration and mentoring relationships, and to foster interactions between junior and senior women faculty.

Arruda served on the Women in Engineering Office executive board from 1999 to 2001 and she has continuously served on panels and workshops for the Women in Science and Engineering Program, which is designed to increase the number of girls and women pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields. She has discussed career options in engineering, how to combine personal and professional lives, why students should consider going to graduate school, and issues for women in non-traditional careers.

Arruda regularly volunteers to talk to students in the M-STEM Academies, a high-school-to-college transition program for students from diverse backgrounds. In this program, students really respond to Arruda, who also volunteers to speak at their Thursday evening career panels during the summer.

She has mentored 49 undergraduate students doing research in her laboratory, including many women and students of color.

The engineering professor has served on NextProf panels that aim to encourage those with a demonstrated commitment to diversity to consider academia. She also served on the CoE Dean’s Advisory Committee on Female Faculty from 2001-06.

“Professor Arruda has always been on the forefront of advocating for women and underrepresented minority students,” said Alec D. Gallimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor of Engineering and professor of aerospace engineering, CoE.

Anna Mapp

Anna Mapp

Mapp, Edwin Vedejs Collegiate Professor of Chemistry, professor of chemistry, LSA; director of the Program in Chemical Biology; and research professor, Life Sciences Institute, works tirelessly to enhance student diversity at U-M.

Mapp directs the interdepartmental graduate program, the Program in Chemical Biology. Since its inception, it has created and implemented policies and procedures for enrolling cohorts of graduate students from traditionally underrepresented areas.

Due to Mapp and her team’s efforts, in fall 2016, 25 percent of the Ph.D. students and 47 percent of the master’s degree students were underrepresented minorities and about half of the Ph.D. students identified as female.

“Diversity in the Chemical Biology graduate program is a direct consequence of Professor Mapp’s commitment to diversity and personal efforts in recruiting and supporting underrepresented students in Chemical Biology,” wrote Rackham Graduate School Dean Carol A. Fierke and Associate Dean Peter Hitchcock.

Mapp calls or meets every master’s program applicant to discuss their motivations and goals. Under her leadership, the chemical biology program has expanded its offerings to include special first-year fellowships that have aided in recruiting the best students in chemical biology to U-M.

When students are accepted, Mapp tailors curricula to fit their individual needs and she provides academic, personal and professional support to students.

Mapp received a Rackham Distinguished Graduate Mentorship Award in 2014 for her outstanding mentoring skills, and she serves as the Rackham Faculty Ally for Diversity in Graduate Education for the Program in Chemical Biology. She is the co-principal investigator for a Rackham Faculty Allies Diversity grant through the Department of Chemistry that aims to increase the diversity of the department’s applicant pool by building relationships with four historically black colleges and universities.  

Mapp was a lead faculty representative on the Life Sciences Institute’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Strategic Planning Team and helped spearhead the creation and rollout of the institute’s first-ever work climate survey.

Karin Martin

Karin Martin

Martin, professor of sociology and of women’s studies, LSA, has dedicated her time to supporting students of color and LGBTQ students, and has chaired many dissertation committees that produced sociological work that advanced understanding of issues surrounding race, class, gender and sexual orientation.

As the graduate director in sociology, Martin recruited and mentored a diverse group of graduate students. She is one of the go-to faculty members for students from non-traditional backgrounds who want careers outside of the research university. As the undergraduate director of sociology, she developed and organized an annual dinner for underrepresented and first-generation students to learn about graduate school.

Martin was one of the first Rackham Faculty Allies for Diversity in Graduate Education for the Department of Sociology and she continues to serve on the committee for Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence, otherwise known as STRIDE. On this committee, she has reviewed, organized and presented research on implicit bias and how to overcome that obstacle in the hiring process.

As associate director of the U-M ADVANCE Program, Martin has spearheaded efforts centering on a family-friendly climate, including child care. She serves as the unit’s key liaison with the campuswide diversity, equity and inclusion effort and is a member of the President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program selection committee, which works to bring a diverse group of fellows to campus with the hope they become tenure-track faculty.

“A generous, compassionate and committed advocate, she epitomizes what we look for in a leader of campus efforts toward diversity, equity and inclusion,” wrote Alford A. Young, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, professor and chair of sociology, and professor of Afroamerican and African studies, LSA; and professor of public policy, Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.

Anthony Mora

Anthony Mora

Mora, associate chair and associate professor of American culture and associate professor of history, LSA, has emphasized the importance of diversity both in and out of his classroom.  

Mora has worked to increase the visibility and impact of American Culture’s Ethnic Studies programs and has actively participated in the LSA’s review of the Race & Ethnicity course requirement.

Mora serves as the history department’s Rackham Faculty Ally for Diversity in Graduate Education and its Equity and Inclusion committee chair, and has been a key player on the Rackham Humanities Diversity committee, which is charged with rethinking Rackham’s diversity efforts in the humanities.

As part of this work, Mora’s input was an integral component of the design and implementation of the Michigan Humanities Emerging Research Scholars Program, which is designed to encourage students from diverse cultural, economic, geographic and ethnic backgrounds to consider pursuing a doctoral degree in humanities at U-M.

He has collaborated to implement a diversity-focused institutional partnership between U-M and the University of New Mexico. He drafted a significant portion of the successful proposal for a multiyear project that builds a recruitment pipeline between the two universities and that, if successful, will be expanded to include additional traditionally Hispanic-servicing institutions and historically black colleges and universities.

“On a day-to-day level in our departmental life, Anthony has taken a leading role in raising definitive and insightful questions about diversity and inclusion, for example in graduate admissions or in faculty workshops on graduate mentoring, in a manner that invites colleagues into the discussion rather than closing them out,” said Kathleen Canning, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Sonya O. Rose Collegiate Professor of History, chair of the Department of History, and professor of history, women’s studies and Germanic languages and literatures, LSA.

Alisse Portnoy

Alisse Portnoy

Portnoy, associate professor of English language and literature, LSA, is a member of the LSA Review Committee for the Race & Ethnicity Course Requirement and the chair of the English department’s Diversity Committee.

Her achievements as chair include the inauguration of a series of pedagogy lunches focused on DE&I issues in the classroom, the introduction of “Inclusive Teaching” segments at every department meeting, the revision of a new English minor proposal to improve its accessibility to first-generation students, the inclusion of a new “diversity breakfast” as part of their graduate recruitment weekend and the creation of a faculty and graduate student mentorship program for the development and support of non-traditional research projects.

As a member of the R&E Review Committee, Portnoy participated in all aspects of the review process, from interviews with faculty, advisers and students to the crafting of the committee’s eight recommendations.

“As a leader, Professor Portnoy has demonstrated a rare, admirable and unflagging devotion to making her department a better, more welcoming and more inclusive place for all of its members,” wrote David Porter, professor and chair of English language and literature, and professor of comparative literature, LSA.

“Whereas most faculty, even those sympathetic to DEI goals, tend to accept long-standing departmental policies and precedents without much of a second thought,” Porter wrote, “Portnoy relentlessly encourages us to reconsider them with respect to their implications for the experience and perceptions of department members (and potential student and faculty recruits) who are not members of dominant and privileged groups.”

Dawn Tilbury

Dawn Tilbury

Tilbury, chair of the Steering Committee on Advanced Manufacturing, professor of mechanical engineering, and of electrical engineering and computer science, CoE, has been a leader and advocate for female faculty in the CoE for the past two decades.

Tilbury encouraged the creation of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for Female Faculty, which offers feedback to the CoE dean about the status of women faculty in the college. She led the organization of the first Big 10 Women’s Workshop, which offers professional development for new female faculty in engineering, and played a key organizational role in subsequent workshops.

Under Tilbury’s leadership of the DACFF, major activities were initiated, which included conducting interviews with all CoE department chairs to understand and create a report about best and worst practices in recruiting, retention, mentoring and governance that contribute to diversity and climate; administering surveys to tenured women and male faculty in CoE to understand any disparities in leadership opportunities; and starting the practice of providing a non-evaluative meeting with every female faculty candidate interviewing with CoE.

“Dawn turns her commitment and passion into real actions that have resulted in concrete outcomes and a positive impact on diversity, both within and outside the University,” Mingyan Liu, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, CoE, co-wrote with Allison Steiner, associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering, CoE.


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