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West campus 'Excellence in Diversity' honorees announced

April 30, 2009

The Campus Environment Team (CET) at Arizona State University’s West campus has announced its 2009 “Excellence in Diversity” winners in the categories of faculty, staff, student and group.

Winners are College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL) Associate Professor Margarita Jimenez-Silva (faculty), Student Success Center Director Flecia Thomas (classified staff/service professional), life sciences major Dorian Tsosie (student), and Teachers of the Future (group).

“These awards underscore the value that ASU places on cultural diversity and on the efforts of individuals and units to incorporate diversity in all areas of campus life,” says Delia Saenz, ASU provost for undergraduate education.  “The awards highlight the different ways that inclusion, as a guiding principle, can reap benefits in the workplace as well as the classroom.”

The awards were established in 1996 to recognize members of the campus community and their commitment to diversity.  The awards recognize the commitment and dedication of those who promote and maintain an atmosphere of diversity on campus and in the surrounding community.  Since 1996, 35 individuals and organizations have been recognized by the West campus CET.

“Contributions to inclusion are as important as contributions to research, academics, athletics and more,” says Saenz.  “The awards identify valuable contributions across the full range, from actions taken at the individual level to programmatic efforts undertaken at the unit level.

“It is appropriate to take the time to honor the champions of inclusion because it reinforces their efforts and sends a strong message about our institutional priorities.”

Jimenez-Silva is well-recognized for her efforts to promote diversity at ASU.  A noted expert on methods of effective teaching in diverse classrooms, she includes issues of inclusion in her elementary education teacher preparation courses and in her research.  Kyle Messner, a CTEL senior lecturer, noted in her letter of recommendation on behalf of Jimenez-Silva, “She is active here on campus, and is also involved in the community at large.  She demonstrates a continuous commitment to cultural diversity…She sponsors and participates in multiple culturally diverse activities.  Margarita promotes cultural diversity in all aspects of campus life, from her teaching to her research and her involvement in organizations both on and off campus.  She models respectful treatment of all individuals.”

Among her many activities to promote inclusion in the community, Jimenez-Silva has regularly volunteered in preschool classrooms of English language-learners in low-income neighborhoods, and has also volunteered to teach art lessons in public classrooms, focusing on artists from diverse backgrounds.  She has participated in outside groups such as the English Language Learners Community of Practice Group and the STELL Group, a Scottsdale entity addressing ELL issues through technology.

Thomas, who came to ASU’s West campus last August, has been active in nearly all campus cultural activities and events since that time, including Hispanic Heritage Month, Black History Month, Veterans’ Day Traditional Pow Wow and Homecoming.  She is one of three advisors to the campus Black Student Union and has helped boost the group’s fund-raising activities.

“It’s healthy for people to discuss diversity and coexistence of multiple cultures,” she says.  “If they don’t do that, then they don’t allow themselves to be challenged on ideological principles…As a person of color, my involvement and visibility are important.  I try to maintain a visible presence on campus so students have someone to connect with.”

Tsosie is a junior in ASU’s New College of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences who has demonstrated a deep and sincere commitment to cultural diversity through his volunteerism across ASU and in the community as well.  His list of event participation is long.  He is an active member of the Native American Events Committee and is president of the Native American Student Organization.  He serves on the Cultural Advisory Committee at the West campus and has volunteered his time to help organize annual Native American pow wows at the Tempe and West campuses.  Just last month, he helped organize and coordinate the 2009 Native American March Music and Marketplace and also volunteered 70 hours of work in one week at the World Vision Experience: AIDS exhibit, helping set up the event, take it down, and train sponsorship representatives.  Among his off-campus service are extensive volunteer hours with the Banner Thunderbird Medical center and the Paradise Education Center.

He hopes to use his degree in life sciences as a launch pad to a medical degree and subsequent work with humanitarian aid organizations.

“Dorian is committed to participating in culturally diverse activities,” notes a letter of recommendation sent on his behalf by Native American Events Committee members Dennis Eagleman and Marcia Bell.  “By willingly giving his time to various campus and community groups, he demonstrates his respect for the traditions of individuals of all cultures.  He has always been an eager and enthusiastic volunteer and is always ready to be recruited to help out at an event.”

Teachers of the Future, winner in the group category, is a club for students who are planning for a career in teaching.  Included in the group are officers Irene Arguello, president; Tiffany Zadylak, vice president; Amber Riddle, secretary; Elizabeth Boardman, treasurer; Long Duong, community relations; and Jackie Chamberlain, club advisor.

Made up of a large group of students representing a variety of school years, ages and ethnicities, the club provides numerous educational opportunities for its members and performs community service work with agencies and organizations across the Valley.  Recently awarded a grant from the Arizona Education Association for high school outreach and recruitment, Teachers of the Future undertakes fundraising activities to purchase school supplies that are in turn donated to under-served schools in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area.  Additionally, the club recently sponsored a Christmas Angels collection, generating funds to buy presents for children in need and later donated remaining proceeds to a local women’s shelter.

The Campus Environment Team is part of the ASU Office of the Executive Vice President and University Provost.  CET works to promote civility, justice, diversity, respect for all individuals, freedom of expression and academic inquiry, and the pursuit of individual goals without interference from discriminatory harassment.  For more information on the West campus CET, email