'Diversity Matters' at UNI

 Located in the heart of Iowa, the University of Northern Iowa draws the vast majority of its students from within the state. Yet among the 13,000-member student body, another 45 states and 70 countries are represented. Eleven percent of UNI's resident assistants are ethnic minorities. Campus organizations encompass a variety of ethnicities, religions and lifestyles.

Town Hall MeetingDiversity, in all its forms, is valued at UNI.

"Appreciation of diversity is an essential component of an excellent education," said UNI President Benjamin Allen in a statement to campus at the start of the fall 2009 semester. "Because our graduates carry into society the knowledge and values they learn or refine while with us, it is essential that we make continuous and substantive progress on our institutional priority to value, promote and teach about diversity."

UNI's Diversity Council, with input and feedback from the Diversity Advisory Committee, the College Diversity Councils and the campus community at large, has been busy this past year building the foundation of the university's sustainable commitment to diversity.

In support of that commitment, 10 individuals were recently honored for their efforts to enhance diversity. During the second-annual UNI town hall meeting on diversity, these students, faculty and staff received the inaugural UNI Diversity Matters Award.

The 2010 UNI Diversity Matters Award recipients are:

- Gloria Adams, a graduate student majoring in school counseling

- Angel Banks, a senior public administration major from Gary, Ind.

- Roland Carrillo, former director of financial aid

- Rita Carrillo, dining services administration

- Chris Edginton, director of UNI's School of Health, Physical Education & Leisure Services (HPELS)

- Janet McClain, director of the Multicultural Initiatives in Teaching (MIT) Program

- Reg Pecen, associate professor of industrial technology

- Martha Reineke, professor of religion

- John Somervill, professor of psychology

- Juanita Wright, assistant director of financial aid and scholarships

The award is designed to acknowledge and honor the efforts of those who have significantly contributed to enhancing diversity at UNI, according to Terry Hogan, UNI vice president for student affairs and UNI Diversity Council chair. Hogan said the award will be presented annually to selected individuals or groups in recognition for their dedication and service to the university's advancement of its diversity-related goals.

Gloria Adams

Described as "a strong and vocal proponent of diversity at UNI and around the Cedar Valley," Adams has contributed to enhancing diversity in numerous ways. During her time at UNI, Adams has served as a pathfinder for incoming transfer students in the Jump Start Program, worked with girls at Cunningham School for Excellence in Waterloo and helped with the African-American Read-In. She is a former president of the Multicultural Teaching Alliance (MTA) and is one of the founders of Muchas Manos Light Work, a nonprofit organization that raises funds to send scholarship money to students in Nicaragua. She volunteers with the UNI Office of Admissions to recruit students from all backgrounds and has helped international students acclimate to Iowa's culture.

Angel Banks

Banks' work has helped "enhance the lives of all UNI students and enrich the multicultural education experience available to them." Banks currently serves as Northern Iowa Student Government's (NISG) Director of Diversity and Student Life. As director, Banks has assisted the College of Humanities and Fine Arts (CHFA) Advisory Council with the recruitment and retention of diverse faculty members. She has worked closely with Awareness for Individuals with Disabilities (AID) and the Coordinating Committee of Disability Accommodations (CCDA). Banks has also started building the Northern Iowa Diversity Coalition, which seeks to mobilize and empower students to effectively address issues of diversity on campus.

Rita Carrillo

As her nominator described, Rita Carrillo is a "soft spoken, usually smiling and well-liked individual by all who meet her. Many have no idea of the huge impact she has made on the lives of UNI Latino and Latina students." In addition to her work for UNI's dining services, she frequently provides personal counsel to students. For many years, she served as the adviser for the Hispanic/Latino Student Union, and she continues to play a central role in the campus-wide Cinco de Mayo celebration each year. "Her warm and gracious hospitality allows everyone at UNI to enjoy the richness of the Hispanic/Latino heritage."

Roland Carrillo

Roland Carrillo served the university for 19 years as director of financial aid and three years as executive director of enrollment management. During his tenure at UNI, he developed a unique recruitment program with the Alamo Community College District in San Antonio, Texas. He also recruited students from Chicago and Gary, Ind., in an effort to bring more diversity to UNI. For many years, he facilitated many small and large group sessions on cultural diversity with students, faculty and staff. Although retiring from UNI earlier this year, he continues to promote and influence students by teaching a class on diversity in America as an adjunct professor at Hawkeye Community College.

Christopher Edginton

Edginton is the founder of the Camp Adventure ™ Child and Youth Services program, a nationally award-winning model demonstration program. Since its conception in 1985, the program has provided students from UNI and across the U.S. with field experience in children and youth services around the globe. Since assuming his role as director of the school of HPELS in 1990, Edginton has continuously promoted and facilitated the progress of diversity within the school. Through his efforts, numerous outreach and public services programs have been developed. "He is a dedicated professional, an outstanding scholar and great friend. His commitment to diversity and his exemplary service at UNI are extraordinary."

Janet McClain

As her nominator described, McClain is "a woman who appreciates and embraces diversity." As director of the MIT Program and the Multicultural Teaching Alliance (MTA) student organization, she promotes an environment that celebrates diversity and shows outstanding leadership in the areas of cultural and social understanding. Through her efforts, MTA has reached out to many individuals throughout the Cedar Valley. She has coordinated numerous events to provide area elementary, junior high and high school students with many diverse and unique opportunities.

Reg Pecen

Pecen has been described as "a strong supporter of UNI's diversity goals and passionate for diversifying UNI." Pecen has served on the Multicultural Recruitment Team for three years, and he has represented the industrial technology department at UNI's Center for Urban Education (CUE) during UNI-Cedar Valley preview nights. He also has helped showcase industrial technology facilities during Multicultural Super Saturday and during other campus group visits. Pecen serves as adviser to the Turkish Student Association and "actively assists with identifying potential international students and advocates for their success."

Martie Reineke

Throughout her 25 years at UNI, Reineke has chaired or co-chaired 16 university or college-level committees, including the Coordinating Committee for Disability Accommodations (CCDA). She chaired the CCDA from 2004-2008 with, as her nominator described, "such passion, energy and skill that I believe she was instrumental in changing the culture of UNI as it relates to persons with disabilities." Through her efforts, additional professional staff has been added in the areas of student and employee disability services. "Her efforts in raising awareness and making a difference have been tireless, and her work has helped the entire campus become more responsive to the needs and interests of those with disabilities."

John Somervill

Somervill has a long and distinguished career in promoting diversity at UNI. As Dean of the Graduate College (1998-2004), Somervill worked to bring more minority faculty and students to UNI. Working with professors and administrators from historically black colleges and universities, he initiated and sustained a highly successful minority recruitment program. In 1989, Somervill began an exchange program through the American Council of Teachers of Russian (ACTR), leading more than 100 Russian students to pursue Masters degrees in graduate programs at UNI.

Juanita Wright

For more than 34 years, Wright has served as a recruiter, mentor and counselor for countless minority students. "With her caring attitude and big heart, she goes the extra mile for students, assisting them in all aspects of college life." She helped create the Jump Start Program and helped with planning and event implementation once recruitment programs in Texas and Indiana were established. "By her words and her example, she is a true advocate for multicultural students."