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University of Iowa News Release

Nov. 5, 2004

Catalyst Awards Honor Diversity Efforts At UI

The University of Iowa Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity will honor three university individuals and a student group for helping to make the university a more diverse place by presenting them with 2004 Catalyst Awards.

The winners will be honored during a reception at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 11 in the Richey Ballroom in the Iowa Memorial Union. President David Skorton and former Congresswoman Sabrina Sojourner will deliver remarks. Sojourner, who represented the District of Columbia from 1997 to 1999, was the first open lesbian to serve in the U.S. Congress. The title of her keynote address is "Diversity and Living by the Heart: Visioning the Global, Working the Personal."

The six-year old Catalyst program recognizes individuals and departments who have developed innovative programs, policies or activities that have had a positive effect on improving diversity in the university community. Winners receive $500.

This year's winners are:

Individual Award

--Victor Rodgers, professor, College of Engineering

Rodgers helped to found the Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering, a program that sought to increase minority representation in the College of Engineering at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Through his leadership, the organization secured funding for fellowships and scholarships for African American, Hispanic and Native American students, designed new recruiting tools aimed at minorities and oversaw minority student groups within the college. The group also began an outreach program for minority K-12 students to encourage them to pursue education and careers in engineering. Thanks in part to Rodgers' efforts, the number of minority students in the College of Engineering has increased 350 percent.

Organization Award

--Indian Cultural Association

This student group has an extensive calendar of events and programs that increase awareness of Indian culture to UI students, faculty and staff. Among its most popular events are Nachte Rahon, an Indian dance contest that brings the top Indian dancers from across the country to compete at UI, and Diwali Night dinner, which celebrates Indian food, dance and culture during Diwali, the Hindu festival of light.

Departmental Award

--Men in Nursing, College of Nursing

Founded in 1999, Men in Nursing has addressed the gender disparity not only within the UI College of Nursing, but in the profession as a whole. Through its efforts, the group successfully increased the national visibility of nursing careers for men, worked to dispel myths about men working in nursing and helped to change the culture within the UI College of Nursing to be more welcoming for men.

Student Award

--Amber Keller, fourth year student, College of Medicine

Keller was president of the Iowa chapter of the Student National Medical Association, which provides a support network for minority students in medical training and provides health care services to underserved populations. She also helped to found such organizations as the Student Affairs Advisory Group on Diversity and Building Medical Futures, which provide support networks for minority medical school students and helps them create mentorship relationships with medical professionals. She also leads the Christian Medical and Dental Association and Victory Temple Minority Health Initiative, which provide services to needy persons in Johnson County, and this January will be part of a group that will provide basic health care services in Ethiopia for two months.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Service, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Tom Snee, 319-384-0010,