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The University of Utah Announces 2006 Diversity Awards

Nov. 20, 2006 — The University of Utah is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2006 Diversity Awards. Four individuals at the University of Utah will be presented with awards and recognition at the 11th annual Diversity Awards luncheon on December 5. The awards are given each year to outstanding individuals or organizations that demonstrate an active commitment to promoting and enhancing diversity at the University of Utah. According to Karen Dace, University of Utah, Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity, “These awards recognize continuous and consistent efforts of the individuals and campus units to foster a more inclusive climate and create greater access and opportunities for diverse students, staff, and faculty.” This year’s award recipients are Dan Edwards, Steve Nygaard, David Pershing and Wilfred Samuels.

Eugene “Dan” Edwards is a Professor of Social Work with a joint appointment in the Ethnic Studies Program where he is the Director of American Indian Studies. One nomination letter explained, “his work has been dedicated to providing and improving opportunities for American Indians and Alaska Natives at the University of Utah” and promoting “social justice and understanding richly diverse ethnic communities.” To address the absence of social work professionals in Indian Country, Professor Edwards established the American Indian Social Work Program at the University of Utah in 1971-the only program of its kind for many years. After 30 years he has assisted hundreds of American Indians and Alaska Natives earn masters and doctoral degrees. Of these graduates, over one-half have been women.

Steve Nygaard is the Director of Housing and Residential Living at the University of Utah. In a very short time on campus, he has demonstrated tremendous commitment and passion for diversity. His accomplishments include arranging for a block of the AIDS Memorial Quilt to be placed in the Peterson Heritage Center Dining Room, and creating the Chartwells Emerging Leaders Scholarship for underrepresented students. He initiated diversity training specifically focusing on unlearning racism for newly hired resident advisors. Follow-up workshops were added which included monthly conversations on privilege, whiteness, race and racism for resident advisors. These conversations took place in the evenings so that students could attend. One nomination letter explained, “Steve made significant sacrifices to do this work, and he never once complained. Frequently, he stayed long after the discussions were scheduled to end to talk with students who needed to say more.”

David Pershing is the Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs. Since assuming this role eight years ago he has worked to more than double the budget for diversity programs at the University of Utah. He is an ardent supporter of the Office of the Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity, Utah Opportunity Scholarship and a variety of diversity programs and initiatives on campus. To address the growing need for employment opportunities for the spouses and partners of job candidates, Professor Pershing created a program that provides funding for such hires. He is a respected and committed mentor for junior faculty across the campus and ever present during an assortment of diversity-related events at the University of Utah.

Wilfred Samuels is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the English Department and Ethnic Studies Program. He is the Director of African American Studies and has been responsible for planning Black Awareness Month activities since 1992. Currently, he serves as Interim Coordinator of the Ethnic Studies Program during the sabbatical leave of Professor Lisa Flores.

Dr. Samuels is being recognized for his years of service in bringing diverse programming to our campus as well as for the numerous trips he has sponsored for students to places like New York City to explore the site of the Harlem Renaissance. He has been the organizer and/or director of:

“Photography on the Color Line: W.E.B. DuBois, Frances B. Johnston and the Paris Exposition 1900,” a photographic exhibit in the Salt Lake City & County Building

“20th Century African American Writers: Photographic Exhibit by Lynda Koolish,” Salt Lake City and Marriott Library

“Dark Hallowed Ground”” Photographic Documentary of African American Burial Sites by Titus Brooks Heagins, Utah Historical Society

“Looking Back with Pleasure II: A Celebration of a Century of African American Cultural Contributions,” an International Conference, Salt Lake City

The Diversity Awards are presented on the basis of excellence in fostering leadership and commitment to enhance diversity and expand opportunities for students, staff, and faculty at the University of Utah. The award recognizes programs and persons making important and sustained contributions to diversity, especially regarding the inclusion of women and minorities and related issues in the life of the University. Selection of recipients is based on information received through nominations. The Diversity Awards Committee entertains nominations for both academic and non-academic units within the University community.

Past Award Recipients

  • Admissions, School of Medicine

  • Irv Altman, Former Vice President for Academic Affairs

  • America West Center

  • Kathy Brooks, Women’s Resource Center

  • Ronald Coleman, Former Associate Vice President for Diversity

  • College of Law

  • College of Nursing

  • Margie Delgado, Chicano Scholarship Fund

  • Department of Psychology

  • Diversity & Community Outreach, School of Medicine

  • Educational Opportunity Programs

  • Kathryn Felker, Educational Opportunities Program

  • Robert Flores, College of Law

  • Graduate School of Social Work

  • Karen Henriquez, Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships

  • Victoria E. Judd, School of Medicine

  • KUED

  • LEAP Program, Undergraduate Studies

  • Liz Leckie, College of Humanities

  • JoAnn Lighty, College of Engineering

  • Marriott Library

  • Minority Opportunities Program, School of Business

  • Gladys Mixco, Ethnic Studies Program

  • Haruko Moriyasu, Ethnic Studies Program

  • Richard Scharine, Department of Theatre

  • South Main Clinic, School of Medicine

  • Student Recruitment & High School Services

  • Edward Trujillo, College of Engineering

  • Women”s Resource Center

  • Youth Teaching Youth Program, Utah Museum of Natural History

For more information on the annual Diversity Awards, visit or contact the Office of the Senior Associate Vice President for Diversity at (801) 581-7569 or For more information about the Office of Diversity visit