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2009 Diversity Awards Announced

April 22, 2009 – Octavio Villalpando, associate vice president, Office for Equity and Diversity at the University of Utah announced today the recipients of the 14th Annual Equity and Diversity Awards. The awards are presented to outstanding individuals and organizations who have demonstrated sustained excellence in fostering leadership and a commitment to promote and enhance equity and diversity for students, staff and faculty at the University of Utah. Caitlin Cahill, Jannah J. Hurn Mather, Aretha M. Minor and Deidre Hughes Schoenfeld are this year’s award recipients.

Caitlin Cahill, is an assistant professor of city and metropolitan planning in the College of Architecture + Planning. She is described as a true “community scholar” who practices outstanding social justice work in the community as well as on campus. She designed the courses “Race, Ethnicity and Community Development” and the “The West Side Studio.” She is a co-director of the Mestizo Arts and Activism program, a mentor of the Social Justice Scholars in the Honors College and has working partnerships with University Neighborhood Partners, NeighborWorks Salt Lake and other community programs. She worked with youth researchers to produce the video “Easy Targets” advocating for in-state tuition benefits for undocumented students and in the creation of the blog “Dreaming of No Judgment.” Her nominators say she demonstrates a deep commitment to equity and diversity for all, opening pathways for students from all backgrounds to access post-secondary education.

Jannah J. Hurn Mather is dean and professor of the College of Social Work. She fosters open dialogue among diverse groups with the creation of an annual social justice series examining issues of ability, civil rights, race relationships and gender. She developed the Utah Criminal Justice Center in collaboration with the College of Law and the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice to address issues of disproportion, to reduce crime and victimization and set sound public policy. One of three female deans at the university, Mather has championed issues of gender equity. Since becoming dean she has added seven women of color to faculty and staff positions. She was instrumental in the development of the Goodwill Humanitarian Center and the innovative Goodwill Initiative on Aging. She is described as “leading faculty and staff to join with community…to prevent and alleviate human suffering, enhance individual, community and global well-being… believing in the worth and dignity of every person.”

Aretha M. Minor, program manager of the Utah College Advising Corps (UCAC) for Continuing Education, is dedicated to creating a pathway to higher education for students who otherwise might not have the opportunity or means to attend college. She is committed to helping them acquire the necessary skills to prepare for a successful future in higher education and life. She is a strong advocate of teamwork, and directs UCAC advisors within each of the ten Utah high schools the corps serves, soon expanding to thirteen. Her work enhances the university’s commitment to excellence for all students by fostering leadership within communities, among students, faculty and colleagues. In addition she is bringing faculty, alumni and potential students together. One high school administrator remarked, “I love having Aretha and the corps in our school. She is a role model for our students and shows them that college is for them.”

Deidre Hughes Schoenfeld, program coordinator of outreach and diversity, College of Engineering, is described as a “champion” of underrepresented students both on and off campus who has moved the diversity programs in the College of Engineering forward with tremendous success. Working closely with engineering student societies she has helped create a sense of community among minority students who in the past have felt isolated in their study. She helped re-establish the charter for the National Society of Black Engineers and worked with the Society of Women Engineers and Society of Ethnic Student Engineers to provide mentoring and educational programs to junior high and high school youth to encourage them to continue in math, science and technology in college. She reaches out to minority and low income youth in Title I schools with information about scholarships and mentoring and brings community and youth together to build pathways to higher education. “Deidre is passionate about helping underrepresented students of color with respect and empowerment,” says one of her nominators.

Each recipient is nominated by letters of recommendation submitted by colleagues and students. The final selection is made by the equity and diversity awards committee of the Office for Equity and Diversity at the university.

For more information please visit or call communications and community outreach in the Office for Equity and Diversity at 801-581-4250.