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2015 Diversity Award winners honored at annual Martin Luther King Jr. address

January 26, 2015
group portrait of Diversity Award winners with University leadersTop, l-r: Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity Vivian Lewis; Howard Potter, director of the Eastman Community Music School; President Joel Seligman; middle, l-r: Ruth Cahn, senior instructor of percussion; Diversity Award winner Jan Angus of Eastman Pathways; Anna Maimine of the Eastman School of Music; Diversity Award winner and organization development specialist Kristin Hocker; front: Carrol Frangipane, Eastman Pathways mentor and instructor of voice; and flutist Jahshanti Henry; at the Witmer House after the presentation of the Presidential Diversity Awards.

The Eastman Pathways Program and Kristin Hocker, an organizational development specialist with Human Resources, were honored as the University’s 2015 Presidential Diversity Award recipients. They were publicly recognized during the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Address, held the evening of Friday, Jan. 23.

The awardees were chosen for their commitment to promoting values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. The Eastman Pathways Program provides music instruction to talented students in the Rochester City School District, and Hocker has devoted special attention to supporting the LGBTQ community as part of the Human Resources’ staff diversity team.

“Diversity is a core principle of the University,” said University President Joel Seligman. “In recognizing the Eastman Pathways Program’s work with young musicians in the city school district and Kristin Hocker’s efforts to promote diversity and inclusion on campus, we celebrate all members of the University community who support these fundamental values.”

Eastman Pathways Program

The Eastman Pathways program, a partnership between the Eastman Community Music School (ECMS) and the Rochester City School District, provides music instruction to talented students. Launched in 1997, the program provides scholarship aid to between 60 and 70 outstanding 5th through 12th grade students for private lessons, classes in music theory and history, and participation in ensembles. Underrepresented minority students account for more than half of the graduating classes in the past 15 years.

About 35 ECMS teachers are involved in the program. In addition, Eastman School of Music collegiate students serve as “Practice Buddies,” mentoring and coaching Pathways students on their practice techniques. Other activities include career workshops, holiday socials, and attendance at Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra performances and pre-concert talks. The various opportunities allow Pathways students to form a community with their musical peers and develop personal connections that cross socio-economic and geographic boundaries.

The transformative effect of music instruction provided by Eastman Pathways extends to academic success. In addition to the University of Rochester and its Eastman School of Music, Pathways graduates have been accepted to such schools as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Columbia University, University of Miami, SUNY Fredonia and Potsdam, Manhattan School of Music, and Juilliard, for studies ranging from business, engineering, political science, sports management, and mathematics, to music performance, music business, and recording arts technology.

“Eastman Pathways has changed many lives over the years,” said Donna Brink Fox, senior associate dean of academic and student affairs at Eastman. “The program has helped pave the way to college for many participants. At the same time, Pathways students have created a more diverse and inclusive community at Eastman while making others aware about the road blocks to learning opportunities that many urban students face.”

Several Eastman Pathways alumni have returned to the Rochester community and teach at the School of the Arts, East High School, Hillside Children’s Center, and in the Livonia school district.

“There’s no doubt that lessons learned at an early age stay with you throughout your life,” said Jan Angus, a member of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and coordinator for Eastman Pathways. “These students are at a vital crossoroad in their musical life, whether this is a future profession or hobby. We hope to guide them both in life and in their musical education.”

“The Pathways Program has a remarkable record of achievement in recognizing and nurturing talent in our community,” said Professor of Voice Katherine Ciesinski, who nominated Eastman Pathways for the Presidential Diversity Award. “Music making provides a soundscape of beauty, intention, and organization that resonates deeply and orients each player to their own confidence and openness. Starting students on this ‘pathway’ gives them a sense of themselves as unique, worthy individuals with something to offer to the world.”

Eastman Pathways is supported through the Talented Students in the Arts Initiative, a collaboration of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Surdna Foundation, and by the Eastman School of Music, with assistance from local and national foundations, corporations, and individuals.

Kristin Hocker

A valued member of the organizational development and staff diversity team in the Office of Human Resources since 2005, Hocker has consistently advocated for the inclusiveness of all people on all campuses at the University. Through her research on diversity in higher education staff leadership, involvement in the Latino Professional Alliance, and passion for LGBTQ equality, her dedication to diversity extends far beyond any one program or cause.

Over the years, Hocker’s efforts have resulted in the promotion and creation of activities to recruit and train individuals to help increase diversity of faculty and staff; leadership teams and organizations that promote a diverse and inclusive culture; and programs, initiatives and projects focused on diversity and inclusion.

“Kristin has a strong belief in what needs to happen to make the world a better place for all and will work tirelessly to ensure it is achieved,” wrote Stanley Byrd, human resources director-organization development and staff diversity, in a letter supporting  Hocker’s nomination for the award.

While Hocker is an activist for the diversity and equity of all members of the University community, many of her efforts have focused on supporting the LGBTQ community. In 2012, she was instrumental in coordinating and further developing the University’s Safe Space Program, a training program that creates a safer and freer environment for all members of the University community, regardless of sexual orientation of gender identity/expression.

She has since worked tirelessly to train members of the University community in maintaining and supporting an inclusive environment. Her leadership and momentum in this area have helped to enhance the recruitment and retention of a diverse staff, as well as ensure that Strong Memorial Hospital continues to be a designated leader in the LGBT Healthcare Equality by the Human Rights Campaign.

Hocker also developed and continues to coordinate leadership development programs by offering classes to new and emerging leaders to help create a quality work environment. As an organizational development specialist, she also teaches courses and consults with members of the University.

Hocker is a doctoral candidate in the higher education program at the Warner School of Education, where she focuses her dissertation research on exploring professional staff’s conceptions of leadership in higher education. She expects to graduate in May 2015.

“These award winners have inspired us all to persist in working to achieve the vision of a University and Rochester community that celebrates and reflects the richness of diversity and the opportunities it affords,” said Vivian Lewis, deputy to the president and vice provost for Faculty Development and Diversity, and chair of the award’s selection committee. “We salute their achievements and those of the all the nominees and look forward to their continued commitment.”

Presidential Diversity Awards

The Presidential Diversity Awards were created in 2009 by Seligman to recognize faculty, staff, students, units, departments or teams that “demonstrate a commitment to diversity and inclusion through recruitment and retention efforts, teaching, research, multi-cultural programming, cultural competency, community outreach activities, or other initiatives.”

This year’s winners were chosen from among seven nominees who were recommended by their colleagues. The recipients and other nominees also were honored at a reception with the president and other University leaders at the Witmer House.

Each Presidential Diversity Award includes a $2,500 prize; individual award winners receive half and designate half to support the budget of a program or department of the winner’s choice. Team award winners designate the entire $2,500 prize to the program or department of the team’s choice.

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