News: Professor Grace Hong, AASD Undergrad Jazz Kiang - 2015-16 DEI Awardees

April 26, 2016 - 8:30am

Last week, the Academic Senate and its Commitee on Diversity and Equal Opportunity announced the recipients of the 2015-2016 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Awards. The Asian American Studies Department extends a congratulations to Professor Grace Hong and Asian American Studies Undergraduate, Justin "Jazz" Kiang for their exemplary work in improving the UCLA campus climate.

Below is a statement from Academic Senate and the Committee on Diversity and Equal Opportunity, which includes the names of the other awardees.

To the Campus Community:

The Academic Senate and its Committee on Diversity and Equal Opportunity (CODEO) takes great pleasure in announcing the recipients of the 2015-2016 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Awards. Each year, CODEO honors one undergraduate student, one graduate student, one staff and four faculty members for their contributions to furthering a diverse, impartial, and inclusive environment at UCLA. The selection of these winners is often difficult as each of the many candidates nominated for these awards have made enormous contributions to encouraging that environment in important and innovative ways. This year’s selection was no exception.

Graduate Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award Recipient:

Kareem Elzein, a graduate student in the Department of Education, is this year’s Graduate Student DEI Award recipient. Mr. Elzein has worked on several UCLA diversity initiatives, including the 2015 Forum to Reclaim Diversity the Climate and Equity Grant (CEG) Program funded by a block grant from the UCLA Office of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. His commitment to community-led practice of diversity is exemplified by the creation of the CEG Program. The CEG Program provides outstanding student leaders with support to work in coalition student groups. Mr. Elzein’s role in fostering relationships with faculty, staff and students has enabled founders of the CEG Program to conceptualize the mission and propose of the Program.

Undergraduate Student Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award Recipient:

Justin Kiang, an undergraduate student in the Department of Asian-American Studies, is this year’s Undergraduate Student DEI Award recipient. Mr. Kiang has been active for many years with the Asian Pacific Coalition and the UCLA Community Programs Committee. He served on the student advisory group that participated in the drafting of the proposal for the College of Letters and Science Diversity Requirement. During the summer of 2014, Mr. Kiang was appointed by Executive Vice Chancellor Scott Waugh to be on the search committee for the new Vice Chancellor for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Mr. Kiang is currently serving as the chairperson of the Campus Retention Committee (CRC). As chair, he is responsible for insuring that students are offered services they need and the attention they deserve so that they can become successful Bruin alumni.

Staff Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Award Recipient:

Tama Hasson, the Academic Director of the Program for Excellence in Education and Research in the Sciences (PEERS), is this year’s Staff DEI Award recipient. She has personally worked with and mentored more than 1000 students through a variety of programs at UCLA, all of which emphasize the success of students from underserved backgrounds. Dr. Hasson also played a leading role in the development of the curriculum that prepares these students to succeed in majors where they often are not successful. Since arriving at UCLA she has obtained at least 10 grants to support underserved and minority students to achieve educational and research excellence.

Faculty Career Commitment to Diversity DEI Award Recipient:

Professor Gail Wyatt, the Director of the Semel Institute’s Center for Culture, Trauma and Mental Health Disparities, is this year’s Faculty Career Commitment to Diversity DEI Award recipient. She has worked tirelessly for many years to increase awareness of and commitment to diversity and inclusion principles. Dr. Wyatt was the first African-American woman to be licensed as a psychologist in the state of California in 1975. In 1995, she was the first person of color to be a Senior Research Scientist, funded by the National Institute of Mental Health Office on AIDS, funding that she still receives to date. She currently chairs the Diversity Group that includes people of color who are in training or who are on the faculty in the School of Medicine.

Faculty Research on Diversity DEI Recipient:

Professor Grace Hong, a professor in the Departments of Gender Studies and Asian American Studies and Gender Studies, is this year’s Faculty Research on Diversity DEI Award recipient. She has done exceptional work in advancing research in gender, race, and sexuality studies. Her 2006 monograph, TheRuptures of American Capital: Women of Color, Feminism and The Cultures of Immigrants Labor has become field-defining for scholars of U.S. comparative ethnic studies. She has also played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Consortium for Black Studies, a UC Multi-Campus Research Project that was awarded over $1 million dollars. This grant responded to the growing awareness of police violence and a disregard for Black lives.

Faculty Student Development DEI Award Recipients:

Professor Michael Alfaro, a professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, is this year’s Faculty Student Development DEI Award recipient. In the Spring of 2014, Professor Alfaro was one of the campus leaders who was tasked with developing a proposal to establish a diversity course requirement for undergraduate students in the College of Letters and Science. The proposal articulated the goals of the diversity requirement at UCLA as well as set criteria for courses satisfying the requirement, including numerous community-based courses. His leadership in this area contributed to the successful passage of the diversity requirement. Professor Alfaro also chaired the Diversity Implementation Committee that was charged with developing a process for syllabi evaluation, determining demand, and existing capacity for the new requirement and identifying additional resources required to mount the requirement for Fall 2015. He currently chairs both the Diversity Initiative Steering Committee and the Diversity Requirement ad hoc Committee.

Professor Vilma Ortiz, a professor in the Department of Sociology, is this year’s second Faculty Student Development DEI Award recipient. She currently teaches the only Latina/o undergraduate class in Sociology and provides this perspective as a co-instructor in the Freshman Undergraduate Interracial Dynamic Cluster. As advisor to the Race and Ethnicity Working Group, she has organized numerous invited talks with emerging and top scholars in the field. Her efforts have been crucial in securing institutional support and enriching graduate training in race and ethnicity. Professor Ortiz also played a key role in establishing the Chicana/o Studies department, and developing requirements for the department. Her never ending commitment to Latina/o sociology, students and faculty of color, and scholarship on Latina/os has been integral in transforming the UCLA community.


Leobardo F. Estrada, Chair
Academic Senate

Russell Thornton, Chair
Committee on Diversity and Equal Opportunity