Each year, we recognize individuals who have demonstrated exemplary achievement in one or more of the following areas:
Promoting intergroup, cross cultural understanding
Fostering the academic and personal success of groups that have been underserved and underrepresented in higher education
Creating a campus climate that encourages and supports the expression of diverse perspectives and ways of being
Helping to prevent harassment, bullying and illegal discrimination
Contributing to efforts that foster greater diversity among Lawrence students, faculty and staff.
Deadline for 2021 nominations is Friday April 2, 2021.
2021 Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award Recipients
We are pleased to announce the 5th Annual Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award Winners. These impressive individuals have used their many talents, resources, influence and privilege to help make Lawrence University more inclusive. While excelling in their individual roles of faculty, student, staff or community leader they have also helped our campus become a more diverse and equitable university that supports all associated with the institution reach their unique potential. Whether through service, activism or teaching they have all helped to make Lawrence a better place in which to work and learn. Therefore, it is with deep gratitude that I present to you this year’s award recipients.
Student Diversity & Inclusion Champion
Ryshaun (Shaun) Brown ‘21
Shaun is a psychology and cultural anthropology double major and an Admissions Senior Intern on the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Student Recruitment Team. From St. Louis, MO, he entered Lawrence with his mind made up and never wavered after encountering roadblocks in education, health care, and government systems inspiring him to want to understand how this happened, why, and what he could do to change it. As an admissions counselor, he has effectively modeled what an antiracist admissions process can look like through his culturally informed information sessions, compassionate interviewing, and careful reviewing of applications. Shaun supports his fellow students from marginalized backgrounds as a leader among Sankofa House and Black Student Union, and forming cross-cultural connections through his involvement in All is One, LU Native Americans, Brother to Brother and Alianza. Additionally, he has participated in preliminary interviews as part of our University Presidential Search Committee, volunteering with the Center for Academic Success, working on his Senior Capstone examining the psychological effects of police violence on Black youths (one of TWO capstones he’ll be completing this year), and leading a discussion group at our First-Generation Mixer. Always ready for a new challenge, he connected with people from a wide variety of backgrounds, putting students and families alike at ease as he welcomed them into our campus home. Shaun’s efforts foster a more inclusive campus for all students regardless of their background.
Student Organization Diversity & Inclusion Champion
LUDWiG (Lawrence University Disability Working Group) Chaired by Alex Chand ‘22
The mission statement of LUDWiG reads: The mission of the Lawrence University Disability Working Group is to foster the inclusion and equity of disabled individuals at Lawrence by establishing a self-sustaining platform providing mentorship, education, and equitable access, with the goal of empowering all to be fully engaged in the community. We are a group of students, faculty, and staff who collaborate and work together to make things happen.
The Lawrence University Disability Working Group (LUDWiG) became a LUCC-recognized student organization this February because of the dedication and hard work of Alex Chand. Identifying as a person with a disability and as a person of color, these intersectional identities developed her insight and awareness. Frustrated by challenges disabled students face at Lawrence, Alex worked to promote intergroup and cross-cultural understanding through her event programming and cross-organization collaborations. She is dedicated to fostering the academic and personal success of disabled students at Lawrence, providing more accessibility to disabled students, a long process that will ensure greater academic and personal success. Alex and LUDWiG members are currently working on a Know Your Rights brochure that will highlight disabled students’ rights and resources on campus and will be distributed to every incoming freshman. Throughout the academic year, LUDWiG hosts different events that is open to all with access to content and virtual events via Moodle or follow on Facebook.
A life-long advocate of anti-racism, diversity and inclusion, Jaime became a student at Lawrence from 2012-2016, actively participating in various diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus including developing and conducting campus wide social justice trainings for students, faculty, and staff. After graduation, he was employed at St. Norbert College in 2016, offering innovating programming about issues of gender and identity. When Jaime returned to Lawrence University as the Diversity, Inclusion, and Access Specialist in the Admissions Office in 2019, he displayed his passion by contributing to diversity recruitment strategy, transfer recruitment strategy, and overall admissions goals. Leading efforts to increase access to Lawrence for underrepresented prospective students, he maintained and strengthened relationships with community-based-organizations and provided diversity, inclusion and access training for our admission staff to further support our goals of becoming an anti-racist office. Jaime then transitioned into a new role as our Director of Transfer & Transitions in April 2020, while continuing to serve as the D&I Specialist, the result of budgets and hiring challenges in the past year. In addition to his current role and his support of many other groups on campus, his small, day-to-day actions exemplify what being an anti-racist person means. He is forever learning and encouraging others to do the same. The changes he’s created at Lawrence have made us a more anti-racist institution, and will leave a legacy for decades to come.
Professor Contreras holds degrees from the Conservatoire National de Région de Perpignan, France, the Escola de Musica de Barcelona, Spain, and the University of Michigan. In addition to serving on the faculty of Lawrence University, he also serves the Music Institute of Chicago and the University of Michigan’s MPulse summer institute Center Stage Strings. His multifaceted career as a concert cellist, chamber musician, pedagogue, and scholar include performances and collaborations with orchestras around the United States and the world. Co-authoring “The Sphinx Catalog of Latin-American Cello Works,” a free database containing information about works for the cello by Latin American composers, he is making accessible long-unheard voices, increasing representation, dismantling stereotypes and creating new ways into cello music’s history and future. With the Sphinx Catalogue, Professor Contreras is creating meaningful opportunities for underrepresented students to take on high-level professional research. Too often off-limits for students who face barriers, he helps students locate funding for summer experiences, giving them opportunities that will help them pursue graduate work or professional careers. Serving on the PCDA and having served as a liaison for the Career Center by taking on a role for evaluating student requests for summer internships funding, he continues to provide support to students.
By acknowledging and dismantling bias, Professor Contreras demonstrates to his students that they can be both gifted musicians and anti-racists. He achieves all of this in ways that foster greater diversity on campus and beyond through his research, teaching, professional service and mentoring students.
Community Partner Diversity & Inclusion Champion
Kaukauna Area School District First of Many Program
The recipient of this year’s Community Partner Diversity and Inclusion Champion Award is the Kaukauna Area School District (KASD) and the First of Many Program. Molly Ruffing, the Access to Education Service Corps Leader in the Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) created the mentorship program that matches first-generation Lawrence students with potential first-generation students at Kaukauna High School. Working with Matt Binsfield, one of the KASD counselors to get the word out and Kaukauna’s Human Resources to develop a plan for handling background checks, the Lawrence mentors meet with their Kaukauna High School mentees weekly to go over a different topic regarding all thing’s college such as barriers, financial aid, application process, etc. With 6 Lawrence mentors and 5 Kaukauna juniors, the program was successfully piloted in the Winter Term 2021. Due to positive feedback from students, plans are in the works to continue the program in the 2021-2022 academic year.