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2017 Samuel A. Attoh Diversity and Inclusion Awards

2017 Samuel A. Attoh Diversity and Inclusion Awards

Samuel A. Attoh, Dean of the Graduate School from 2005-2015, believed that increasing the recruitment of underrepresented students and faculty, advocating for and supporting the interests of all students, including but not limited to historically underrepresented students, LGBTQ students, veterans, and students with disabilities, and working with graduate programs to develop and sustain diverse and inclusive academic and social environments created a strong graduate community. In so doing, it was his belief that our students would be equipped to help address social problems and respond creatively and compassionately to the challenges facing our local, state, national, and global communities.

The Graduate School at Loyola University Chicago continues this vision, believing that our students are best served when the university population reflects the larger society.  Accordingly, the Graduate School encourages the programs under its jurisdiction to embrace diversity and strive for inclusion. In harmony with the Jesuit principles of cura personalis (care of the whole person) and homonis pro aliis (people caring for others), inclusion affirms the dignity of all members of the Graduate School community and commits our graduates to put their knowledge, skills, and talents in the service of others.

In honor of Loyola’s Jesuit values and the legacy of the late Dean Attoh, the Graduate School is pleased to announce the recipients of the inaugural Samuel A. Attoh Diversity and Inclusion Awards.

Individual Winner: Cameron Williams

Cameron Williams is currently completing his 5th year in the Sociology doctoral program. Cam researches how public housing residents resist and react to the rapidly spreading practice of depopulating public housing, a topic that he first became passionate about through his volunteer work at his church. Tami Love, an organizer for the Logan Square Housing Organization, notes that Cam first became involved with their project to preserve Lathrop Homes (a public housing community on the North Side) in the summer of 2013. In the years since then, Ms. Love describes Cam as having become “one of the most involved students I have worked with in my almost 25 years of community organizing.” Dr. Kelly Moore, Graduate Director of Sociology, notes that Cam “engenders a sense of family from those with whom he serves” in both his teaching and his community service.

Dr. Moore also says that “Cam draws on a deep well of faith to carry out these many ways of being a person for others. He doesn’t talk much about it, and he doesn’t brag or tell many people about what he is doing for others: he just does it.” It is this quality that truly embodies the legacy of Dean Samuel Attoh in Cam’s work. From volunteering for acts of civil disobedience on behalf of vulnerable populations to mentoring undergraduate students (Cameron was also awarded Graduate Student Teacher of the Year this year) his career at Loyola is filled with extraordinary passion coupled with a vision of justice for others. We can’t wait to see what Cameron does next.

Group Winner: Committee on Diversity Affairs from the Department of Psychology

A diverse academic community is characterized by new perspectives and fresh methodological approaches to scientific, humanistic, and social science fields of study.  It enhances the pursuit of knowledge and its contribution to our understanding of the world around us.  Inclusion values open dialogue, mutual respect, and cultural competence. The Committee on Diversity Affairs (CODA) from the Loyola Department of Psychology exemplifies these values. In their mission statement, the members of CODA proudly state that they aim “To promote and foster an academic community that celebrates and supports diversity in multiple areas of departmental life. To provide support, networking opportunities, and mentoring to students of diverse backgrounds. To increase and support culturally competent research on diversity topics. To promote the inclusion of diversity throughout our curriculum. To give students experiential learning opportunities that address diversity issues.”

While many diversity groups might talk a similar talk, CODA absolutely walks the walk as well. Dr. Robyn Mallett notes that CODA works with students of diverse backgrounds to help them learn “how to persist in research that can be emotionally draining, especially if one has a personal stake in the research question.” Dr. Perla Gámez says that CODA was one of the first organizations she joined when she was hired as a junior faculty member and watched the group transform from one that was primarily composed of faculty members to its current composition, which is about equally composed of faculty and graduate students. This transformation has allowed CODA to make their graduate student mentoring truly relevant. Dr. Gámez notes that “as a Latina and the first in my family to attend college and graduate school, I know firsthand the significant role that a sense of community can have in the college experience of underrepresented students, in particular, contributing to their academic and life success. Given that CODA provides a formal space for faculty and students to put their knowledge and talents in the service of individuals from diverse backgrounds, it also serves to build community for underrepresented students and thus, encourages their academic and social success.”