Screen readers: Two navigational links to follow.Skip to site navigation.Skip to page content.
The University of Iowa News Services
The University of Iowa News Services Home News Releases UI in the News Subscribe to UI News Contact Us

University of Iowa News Release


May 1, 2009

Faculty and staff honored with 2009 Audrey Qualls Diversity Awards

Faculty and staff members in the University of Iowa College of Education who have committed their work to supporting diversity were awarded a 2009 Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award Thursday, April 29, during the UI College of Education Diversity Committee Spring Picnic.

Cristina Cardenas, project assistant in the Office of the Dean, was the staff recipient, and Saba Rasheed Ali, assistant professor in the Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations, was the faculty recipient. Cardenas was hired by the College of Education in January 2008. Prior to working in the college, Cardenas worked in the UI Office of Equal Opportunity and Diversity.

Cardenas gives a warm welcome to anyone entering the dean's office, but her work doesn't stop there. Cardenas heads numerous projects and activities such as scheduling meetings, organizing events across campus, proofreading speeches, and supporting projects regarding diversity throughout the College of Education.

Tina Hoffman, a student in the Ph.D. program in counseling psychology, nominated Cardenas.

"During this past year, she took on one of the biggest projects held in the fall: Passport for Education," said Hoffman. She said the event is designed to serve all UI undergraduates interested in a career as teachers, administrators, school counselors or special education instructors.

"Throughout this event, Cardenas inspired others to continue the valuable work of inspiring underrepresented, ethnically diverse students into the field of education," said Hoffman.

Hoffman, as well as fellow graduate students Sharon Lee, Elham Bagheri, Kevin Fall, Julie St. John, Rebecca Riley and Jessica Martin, nominated Ali for her faculty award. For the past two years, Ali has been working toward offering career opportunities for minorities in rural Iowa.

She is well known in the field of counseling psychology and is considered an up-and-coming researcher of multicultural issues with a special emphasis on the relationship between feminism and Islam.

Ali is well respected by both peers and students because of her tireless work toward empowering a wide range of underserved populations and her commitment to students within the Counseling Psychology program, according to her nominators.

Ali encourages her students to become well educated and promotes the use of research as a tool for social justice and systemic change.

Her graduate students said they appreciate Ali's warm, welcoming personality. They also appreciate her efforts to connect them with professional opportunities to help underserved populations in their educational pursuits through social justice work and action-oriented research.

The Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award is a student-nominated award given annually to a faculty and a staff member in the College of Education. The award recognizes demonstrated commitment to diversity. It is named in honor of the late Audrey Qualls, a professor of measurement and statistics in the UI College of Education Department of Psychological and Quantitative Foundations from 1990 until her death in 2002.

Nominees must demonstrate a commitment to diversity; include issues focusing on diversity as an integral part of course content or daily work activities; recognize that there is a diversity of learning and interaction styles, and try to accommodate for this by using a variety of modalities and tools; display commitment to all students; encourage students to offer viewpoints; and conduct research and/or demonstrate involvement in activities that reflect a commitment to diversity.

For more information on the award visit

Founded in 1872, the UI College of Education was the nation's first permanent, college-level department of education. Since then, the college has gained an international reputation of excellence in programs as diverse as Rehabilitation Counseling, Educational Measurement and Statistics, Counseling Psychology, Elementary and Secondary Teacher Education, and Higher Education Administration. The College of Education is also home to the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills and the Belin-Blank Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development. For more information visit

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

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sharon Lee, UI College of Education Diversity Committee, 319-335-5275,; Lois J. Gray, University News Services, 319-384-0077,