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Presidential Diversity Award

The University of Rochester Diversity Awards recognize the accomplishments of faculty, staff, students, units, departments, or other functional teams of the University or graduates of the University that contribute to diversity and inclusion through exemplary leadership. Recipients should demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multicultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities, or other initiatives.

Nomination Period

Next nomination Period: January 2021–March 2021

Recipients will be announced, and all nominees celebrated each January

Criteria for Selection:

Nominees should be current faculty, staff, students, units, departments, or other functional teams of the University. Nominations can be submitted by individual employees (including supervisors, direct reports and peers of the nominees), students, University organizations, employee networks and diversity councils. Applications will be judged on the following criteria:

  • Demonstration of emerging or sustained commitment to the values of diversity, inclusion, and multiculturalism by documented efforts that are above and beyond the routine expectations of the job or project.
  • Evidence of exceptional efforts to promote a University environment that is free from bias and discrimination.
  • Substantiation of the contribution that the individual, team, or unit has made towards advancing diversity and inclusion.

Areas of Achievement

Success in leading and enhancing diversity and inclusion efforts can be demonstrated in many ways. Nominations should be based on demonstrated leadership in one or more of the following areas:

  • Activities to recruit, retain, and professionally develop individuals who increase the diversity of our faculty or staff
  • Activities to attract or recruit students who increase the diversity of our schools, or to help ensure the success of those students
  • Activities to create leadership teams and organizations that promote a diverse and inclusive culture
  • Sponsorship or active promotion of programs, initiatives, or projects in the area of diversity and inclusion
  • Collaboration with campus or community groups in the creation, sponsorship, and implementation of programs, initiatives, or projects in the area of diversity and inclusion
  • Recognition and celebration of exemplary individual and team behaviors that promote diversity and inclusion


The Diversity Awards Selection Committee will choose a maximum of two award recipients per year. Award recipients will be honored during the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Address or other appropriate occasion. Their names will be added to an awards plaque, which will be posted alongside the plaque recognizing the winners of the Witmer and Meliora Awards. Each Presidential Diversity Award includes a $2,500 prize. Individual award winners will receive half and will designate half to support the budget of a program or department of the winner’s choice. Team award winners will designate the entire $2,500 prize to the program or department of the team’s choice. In designating the prize money to a program or department, the individual or team should choose from those programs and departments that are doing work in the area of diversity or inclusion. Award winners may choose their own program or department. Award recipients will be recognized in a University publication such as @Rochester.

Instructions for Submitting Nominations

  • The next nomination period is from January 2021–March 2021
  • Use a separate Nomination Form for each nominee. Make sure that the contact information is accurate and complete.
  • The form requests a nomination statement to be attached and should not exceed two pages. The nomination statement should specifically identify the individual or team’s contributions and accomplishments.
  • The form requests two letters of support for the nomination. One of the letters of support should be from the supervisor, department chair, center director, or dean (in the case of an individual nominee) or from a supervisory individual representing the lead office or lead sponsor (in the case of a unit/organization/team nominee).

During the application cycle, the application form is linked here.

Any questions or concerns about the nomination process should be directed to the Office Equity and Inclusion at

Past Recipients


President Mangelsdorf and Mercedes Ramirez Fernandez with Presidential Diversity Award Recipients Caroline Nestro and Kit Miller

  • Caroline Nestro, Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Cultural Engagement in the Department of Psychiatry as well as the director of the department’s Office of Mental Health Promotion
  • Kit Miller, Director of the MK Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence


  • Myra Henry, River Campus Libraries
  • Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia


  • Jonathan Wetherbee, School of Nursing Center for Employee Wellness
  • Molly Murdock, Doctoral student at the Eastman School of Music



l-r: vice provost for faculty development and diversity Vivian Lewis, winners Debora McDell-Hernandez and Dr. Gina Cuyler, and UR president Joel Seligman. // University of Rochester Diversity Awards are presented at Witmer House January 25, 2017. // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester
  • Gina Cuyler, Co-Founder of the Black Physicians Network of Greater Rochester
  • Debora McDell-Hernandez, Curator of Engagement at the Memorial Art Gallery



back, l-r: winners Janice Holland; Seqouoia Kemp and Jessica Guzman-Rea ((both of One Rochester); front l-r: University of Rochester vice provost for faculty development and diversity Vivian Lewis, winners Nicholas Kasper and Shahyan Rehman (both of One Rochester), winner and UR School of Nursing Dean Kathy Rideout, and president Joel Seligman and present 2016 University of Rochester Diversity Awards reception at Witmer House January 20, 2016. University of Rochester // photo by J. Adam Fenster / University of Rochester
  • Janice Holland, Senior HR Representative and Diversity Specialist/Facilitator and Community Liaison
  • One Community Program, Arts, Sciences, & Engineering
  • Kathy Rideout, Dean and Professor of Clinical Nursing



winners of 2015 presidential diversity awards
  • Kristin Hocker, Organizational Development Specialist
  • Eastman Pathways Program



winners of 2014 presidential diversity awards
  • John Cullen, Research Associate Professor of Surgery
  • Office of Minority Student Affairs



winners of 2013 presidential diversity awards
  • Lynne Maquat, Director of the Center for RNA Biology, School of Medicine & Dentistry
  • UR Teen Health & Success Program, Center for Community Health




  • John Fetter, Assistant Professor of Music Education, Eastman School of Music
  • Center for Advocacy, Community Health, Education and Diversity (CACHED), School of Medicine & Dentistry




  • The Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Medicine & Dentistry
  • UR Genocide Intervention, Undergraduate Student Organization




  • David T. Kearns Center, Arts, Sciences & Engineering
  • Latino Professional Alliance, University-wide Affinity Group
  • Dr. John Hansen, Professor of Neurobiology and Anatomy, School of Medicine & Dentistry