Representing the faculty, staff and student populations, three University of Colorado community members have been named recipients of the 2018 Thomas Jefferson Award. It is among the highest honors given at CU, the state’s largest institution of higher education.
The 2018 honorees are faculty member John Harner, University of Colorado Colorado Springs; staff member Julia Willis, University of Colorado Boulder; and student Lígia Batista Silverman, University of Colorado Boulder.
Julia Willis is an assistant director for instruction for the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) at CU Boulder. Since joining the university in 1998, her versatility in administration and pedagogy has allowed the campus to use her skill sets in creating holistic learning experiences for students. Willis twice received the Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in STEM Education (2014-15; 2015-16). As summarized in the Thomas Jefferson nomination, “Julia’s gift to SASC and to CU Boulder has been to expand (the primary connection between teacher and learner) beyond the classroom, not only to include other sites of learning–laboratory, studio, field work–but also to expand the definition of learning community to encompass the campus, its town and our state as the new territory where the success of marginalized learners impacts the broader public welfare of us all.” Her interests, activities and endeavors beyond service to the university include birdwatching, poetry and choral singing; she also developed a guide for families, “Key Issues and Resources for People With Aging Parents.”
Lígia Batista Silverman
Lígia Batista Silverman is a student of CU Boulder’s Post-Baccalaureate Health Professions Program. Before entering the program, she earned a master of arts in theater at CU Boulder and a bachelor’s degree with concentrations in neuroscience and theater from a Canadian institution. Her educational endeavors have spanned the academic spectrum and have served as a nexus in melding arts, sciences, medicine, social justice and community. At Children’s Hospital Colorado on the CU Anschutz Medical Campus, she has worked on a clinical research team leading “many conversations among (the) team members ... challenging (them) to consider what it means to be committed to an individual’s rights, especially when the individual is a child.” Some of her work includes her thesis on the role of interactive theater at CU Boulder, co-authoring and performing in a play aiming to destigmatize mental health issues, and implementation of individualized, holistic protocols for participants in clinical research. The nomination illustrates how her work, independent of the subject matter area, consistently strives to create a more equitable, just place for people in need.