The Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Equity and Excellence Banquet on April 22 in the Koenig Alumni Center.
The banquet honors and recognizes outstanding students, faculty and staff in the CU community who have been engaged in diversity and have dedicated themselves to equity for all.
The Equity and Excellence Awards program began in 1985 when CU-Boulder Professor Albert Ramirez identified the need to recognize those who have made significant commitments to CU and its community.
“When I got to Regent Hall as an administrator, I realized that the university was at a point that it had to acknowledge the contributions of those students and faculty who had come to the university from diverse backgrounds and from different ethnic racial groups," said Ramirez. "They had made an impact in a positive way at the university.”
In 2005, Ramirez came out of retirement from CU to be the department chair of the Department of Ethnic Studies. He began his career at CU-Boulder in 1971 as an assistant professor in the Psychology Department.
When asked about whether or not CU’s views of diversity have changed since his earlier days, Ramirez said he missed student activism and stressed how important and critical it is that the Equity and Excellence celebration continues.
“It honors the staff, faculty and students that bring diverse perspectives to the campus, whether it be their ethnicity, race, gender, sexual preference, religion, whatever,” Ramirez said. “It’s important to honor and acknowledge that. We’ve come a way, but we ain’t there yet.”
During the banquet, the 2015 Equity and Excellence Awards were presented to undergraduate student Juedon Kebede, staff member Scarlet Bowen and faculty member Alejandro Cremaschi.
Kebede, a tri-executive for CU Student Government and president of student affairs, was recognized for academic achievement, outstanding service to the university community and noteworthy service service to, or on behalf, of CU-Boulder's diverse communities.
“I felt honored when I found out I won the Equity and Excellence Award,” Kebede said. “To be on a list with some of CU’s finest graduates, faculty members and staff is very humbling. To be honest, this award is a reflection of the mentorship I received from Vice Chancellor Deb Coffin, Dean of Students Christina Gonzales and Chief Melissa Zak. It’s been a transforming experience for me to have had the opportunity to work with them this year, and I am excited for the next group of CUSG leaders to be mentored by them.”
Bowen, director of the GLBTQ Resource Center, was honored for professional service that best exemplifies the commitment to equity and excellence in higher education.
“I was very surprised and delighted to receive the award, and I was honored to be nominated by colleagues such as Christina Gonzales, Randy McCrillis and Brendon Chavez, whose work in equity and diversity I so much admire and respect,” Bowen said. “I believe both the awards themselves and award ceremonies like these that focus on inclusive excellence are vital. Creating a socially just institution takes the commitment of all students, staff and faculty; and when we gather together at events to celebrate our successes, it allows us to see that our network is strong and ranges widely across departments, colleges and positions in the university.”
Cremaschi, an associate professor of piano and pedagogy in the College of Music, was honored for professional service that exemplifies commitment to equity and excellence in higher education efforts and toward promoting the principles of diversity and inclusive excellence in teaching, learning and leadership.
“I felt really honored to receive this award,” Cremaschi said. “It is truly an honor to join past recipients of this prestigious recognition, colleagues who have done so much for diversity, excellence and inclusion. To tell you the truth I feel I'm only just getting started on my work for diversity and excellence at CU. When my music colleagues decided to nominate me, I thought that my work so far did not really measure up to the amazing achievements of past recipients. I am really humbled that the nominating committee thought my work worthy of the recognition.”
Cremaschi added, “I want to encourage everyone to keep diversity and inclusion as an important priority when teaching, researching and administering. I sometimes feel that diversity takes the back seat, almost like an afterthought that gets attention only sporadically. As my fellow award recipient Scarlet (Bowen) so eloquently stated in her award acceptance, there is research that clearly links diversity to excellence. We work best and achieve more when we are diverse.”
Presentation of the Equity and Excellence Award takes place each year at the Equity and Excellence Banquet, but this year the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement had a smaller celebration to recognize the 30th anniversary of Equity and Excellence and the award recipients. The larger celebration will resume in spring 2016.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Diversity, Equity and Community Engagement: From left to right, Juedon Kebede, Alejandro Cremaschi and Scarlet Bowen.