2009 Banquet: Many Faces, One Mission: Inclusion

2009 Diversity Banquet

The Fourth Annual UNH Diversity Banquet was held on May 2, 2009, in Huddleston Hall Ballroom. As UNH has worked to build a more diverse campus, the Office of Diversity Initiatives has created a tradition to honor the many people and offices in the campus community who have made outstanding contributions to promoting equity and inclusion.

Emcees of the event, Wegene Wells-Bogue and Jenelle DeVits, Class of 2009, welcomed alums, community members and UNH students, faculty and staff to celebrate the progress being made at UNH for people of under-represented groups.

President Huddleston delivered opening remarks and thanked all who give generously of their time to honor inclusive excellence through their unique insights and experiences. He said, "Our faculty, staff and students bring a breadth of backgrounds and interests to our classrooms and our personal interactions. They enrich us."

The 2009 UNH Diversity Hall of Fame honorees were recognized for providing leadership to build more inclusive and equitable communities. The UNH alums represented a wide range of successes as philanthropists, educators, and entrepreneurs or through the arts, sciences and law. Hosts Associate Provost Judy Spiller and Coordinator of Alumni Programs Lynn Smith welcomed new members of Alumni Diversity Hall of Fame Donald Libbey, '79; Sarah Libbey, '79; Jessica Johnson, '04; Sangita Jhaveri, '03; Glendowlyn (Lyn) Howard, '05 Graduate School; Andre Garron, '06; Gaelle Gourgues, '03; and Jennifer Kilson-Page, '85.

UNH Community Service Awards were presented by the President's Commission on the Status of People of Color Chair Robert McGann and Vice Chair JerriAnne Boggis. Awardees Valerie Cunningham, Purnell Fred Ross, Jr. and C. Freddye Ross have given their time and talent to outstanding work for equity and inclusion in the Seacoast community.

Fred and Freddye Ross's desire to stop discrimination and to teach respect for all people took the form of teaching critical thinking about race and racism in the classrooms of Dover High School, School District Panels, the NH Police Academy, area churches, in classrooms with at-risk teens, Timberland Company, youth leadership development classes, fundraisers, campaigns for healthy images in the media and programs at the University of New Hampshire. Dedicated to helping people see beyond the borders of black and white, they spent time on this campus sending their message that "When you don't have diversity, it hurts people - because there's a whole world outside of New Hampshire, and so - the better the mix..., the more well-rounded and prepared for the real world."

Valerie S. Cunningham is a founder of the Portsmouth Black Heritage Trail. Most residents assumed that very few African Americans walked New Hampshire's historic streets until well into the 20th century. But her worked has recovered facts on black people living in Portsmouth as early as 1645, and contributing to the community significantly ever since. She began collecting stories from elders in Portsmouth's black community, history's "missing persons".

Valerie Cunningham has also contributed her time to such organizations as Black Heritage Partnerships, the New Hampshire Historical Society, the Portland (Maine) Freedom Trail, the Seacoast African American Cultural Center, Strawbery Banke Museum, and the Portsmouth Mayor's Blue Ribbon Committee for the African Burying Ground. She was honored last year by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for her work on historic places and cultural legacies.

The Celebratory Addresses were delivered by Stephanie Bramlett, Ph.D. candidate and Carol Shull Perkins.

Bramlett, a Ph.D. Candidate in the Sociology program at UNH, spoke of her first days at UNH and how she was invited to the Unity Reception, an idea she couldn't embrace when it was introduced to her by a classmate. On the eve of the event, she decided to do homework when the knock came at the door – for her to join the reception. Her doubts about not being included here fell away as she discovered the resources and people who would make UNH home to her. She encouraged others to look for ways to be friends to those who want to call UNH home.

USNH Trustee Carol Shull Perkins, a partner in Longview Farm with her husband, spoke of her advocacy for GLBT youth. As a member of the Plymouth Chapter of Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, P-FLAG, she expressed the need for more people to reflect on and understand the meaning of full equality for all citizens. Her work in the grammar and middle schools has brought her hope that prejudice and bigotry can be left behind, and, with continued education, new outlooks can be our legacy.

The 2009 President's Excellence through Diversity Awards were presented to honor those who have demonstrated outstanding leadership in promoting equity, advancing the status of under-represented groups, and serving as role models at the University of New Hampshire.

The 2009 President's Excellence through Diversity Faculty Award was presented by UNH President Mark Huddleston to John Nimmo, Executive Director of the University's Child Study and Development Center. Dr. Nimmo has encouraged a more diverse curriculum at the Center by creating a Diversity Committee from people on his staff and the parents. Their frank discussions on how to better the classroom climate led to open talks with the children on how families differ in makeup, how we can honor skin in its many shades and colors, and how we all differ in our abilities and ways of experiencing the world. To further hold these conversations, John invited artist-in-residence Richard Haynes to paint a mural of the children's experiences with the value of respect, love, joy and friendship. In addition, he instituted the program "Growing a Green Generation," encouraging environmental awareness and community.

Dr. Nimmo is known among his colleagues for his contributions to The Inclusive Teaching Fellows, an inquiry group established to discover the most conducive practices for teaching excellence and student learning. In helping to build this grassroots faculty seminar, he has shown his firm commitment to institutional change of pedagogy and assessment. John is notable among IT fellows for suggesting resources for welcoming, affirming and intellectually engaging classroom environments for students with diverse perspectives and experiences.

The 2009 President's Excellence through Diversity Staff Award was presented to Dr. Margaret Pobywajlo, Director of the Center for Academic Enrichment at UNH Manchester. She has created summer bridge programs for students of the course called English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL). She hosts ESOL testing on campus and a developmental ESOL course called ENGLISH 301A. She built special units into her Tutor Development course, collaborated on a College Transition Program for Latino Students and developed a course introducing marginalized students to the culture of higher education.

Dr. Pobywajlo has implemented in-service workshops for faculty and staff on creating inclusive classrooms including Strategies for Working with Students with Disabilities and a workshop on the "etiquette" for assisting speakers of other languages. In addition, she represented UNH Manchester on the UNH Diversity Council.

Thanks was given to the Diversity Banquet Planning Committee members: Chair JerriAnne Boggis, Valerie Cunningham, Jenelle DeVits, Sylvia Foster, Jennifer Hill, Wanda Mitchell, Nora Molloy, Brenda Mullaney, Janice Pierson, J. Gregg Sanborn, John Seavey and Judy Spiller.

Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Wanda S. Mitchell and Professor John Seavey presented outgoing Provost and Executive Vice President Bruce Mallory with a memory book to honor his six years of service to UNH in the Office of Academic Affairs, and Provost Bruce L. Mallory concluded the evening with thanks to all who have brought positive change to UNH.

The UNH foundation supports the following diversity funds which may be found at: List of Endowed Funds

  • Diversity Initiatives Fund
  • Multicultural Recruitment and Retention Fund
  • Alberta Curry Virgil Memorial Scholarship
  • Dr. Frederick Samuels Fund for Diversity
  • The Cleveland L. Howard Memorial Fund
  • Kidder Fund
  • Melbourne W. Cummings Endowed Scholarship Fund
  • Peterson Carsey Endowed Minority Scholarship Fund

2009 Banquet Photo Gallery

2009 Diversity Hall of Fame Awardees