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WIU President's Excellence in Diversity Awards 2021

April 28, 2021

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MACOMB/MOLINE, IL – Three Western Illinois University faculty members, a WIU administrator and a University committee have been recognized with the 2021 WIU President's Excellence in Diversity Awards.

"It is an honor to recognize our colleagues across the University for their efforts to ensure diversity, equity and inclusion on our campuses and in our local communities," said WIU President Guiyou Huang. "I have witnessed the commitment and dedication of our talented students, faculty and staff, as well as our partners in our local communities to create, support and lead change. Through our annual recognition program, we celebrate those individuals who have gone above and beyond. To these individuals recognized, I thank you for your commitment, your dedication and your efforts."

According to Sterling Saddler, assistant to the president for diversity and inclusion at WIU, the President's Excellence in Diversity Awards provide an opportunity to champion those individuals who have committed their leadership, define education and engaged in service.

"These individuals are often unrecognized and often not compensated for the ongoing improvement and growth of our institution," he added. "We celebrate their contributions, we share your passions and we look forward to a brighter future for all our students, faculty and staff. Thank you for continuing to do the hard work, doing the heavy lifting and supporting our collective endeavors towards a more equitable, inclusive and diverse Western Illinois University."

2021 WIU General Promotion of Diversity Award: Edmund Asare, associate professor
Foreign Languages and Literatures.

"Dr. Asare has mentored students through all of his years teaching at WIU. He assists students in adapting to the pressures of academic life, graduating in a timely manner and transitioning to professional careers. He also devotes time to providing services to non-English-speaking community members and exposes his students to multiculturalism from his own international experiences and travels with study abroad trips," his nominator said. "As an immigrant to the U.S. and of African birth, he is a positive embodiment of diversity as he uses his experiences as an educational, as well as a recruitment tool making WIU a better place."

2021 President's Excellence in Leadership Award: Joyce Ofili, teaching support assistant, Computer Sciences.

"Dr. Ofili has made a big impact on the students who've had the privilege of getting to know her as a teaching support assistant in computer sciences, a leader in the Redeemed Students Fellowship, a go-getter for the National Society of Black Engineers and as the person to turn to for help when in need," her nominators said. "She is a passionate and inspiring leader, a role model and a person who's helped so many international students to settle in adjust to and thrive at WIU."

2021 President's Excellence in Education Award: Munia Cabal-Jimenez, associate professor, Foreign Languages and Literatures.

"Dr. Cabal-Jimenez exposes students of our rural area to the diversity of the world and to the multiculturalism so necessary in a globalized world. One of her primary projects, the Empowering Learners of Spanish Project is published by the Center for Open Educational Resources for Heritage Language Learning at the University of Texas at Austin and funded by the U.S. Department of Education," her nominator said. "She uses a critical pedagogical approach for these activities to teach sociolinguistics and critical inquiry to integrate language ideologies her diversity-related activities promote recruitment and retention of underrepresented students at Western Illinois University. She is part of several inclusion initiatives in the University related to Latinx students and is a constant presence in the events of the Multicultural Center by bringing real life experiences to the classroom and beyond."

2021 President's Excellence in Service Award: Racial Justice Initiatives Committee, University Counseling Center.

"This committee has been planning outreach activities and exploring ways to educate and support students regarding issues related to diversity, inclusion, oppression, allyship and systematic racism. They have created safe spaces, allyship trainings and support groups to meet this goal," their nominator said. "They are committed to making a difference and addressing issues of racial injustice here at WIU."

2021 Cathy O'Neill Couza Award for Outstanding Leadership and Diversity: Martin Abraham, provost and vice president for academic affairs.

"During his tenure at WIU, Dr. Abraham has worked throughout the University community and beyond to broadly support and celebrate persons from various diverse backgrounds, and he is committed to, and has a progressive vision for, building positive and collaborative relationships that create educational opportunities for the growth and development for all members of the University community of learners. Dr. Abraham is an effective champion for diversity and inclusion at WIU," his nominator said.

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