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The Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Awards recognize individuals or groups who have demonstrated a significant commitment to enhancing diversity at Ohio State and to exceeding expectations in implementing the Diversity Action Plan. The program, now in its 21st year, rewards efforts to enhance diversity on the basis of race, color, creed, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, sex, age, disability, veteran or military service status, gender identity, economic status, political belief, marital status or social background. Recipients were honored with a plaque and a $1,200 honorarium at a spring luncheon during the Office of Minority Affairs’ ninth annual National Conference on Diversity, Race and Learning. The University Senate Committee on Diversity sponsors the awards program in cooperation with the Office of Human Resources.
Click on photo or scroll down the page to read winner's bio.
Moritz College of Law’s Black Law Students Association
The Black Law Students Association (BLSA) has gained accolades for its high level of commitment to the community. Members of BLSA have participated in the United Negro College Fund and MS walkathons, drives for canned food, school supplies, voter registration and an adopt a family program. The group sponsors programs during Black History month, works with the Moritz College of Law Student Bar Association to plan Diversity Week activities, and sponsors an annual joint banquet with Capital University School of Law’s BLSA chapter that honors graduating members and members of the legal community. Members are also active in mentoring activities -- upperclassmen to first-years, and BLSA members to disadvantaged Columbus youths. “BLSA is well organized, consistently dedicated to meeting its mission, hard working, and has established a policy of inclusiveness that has improved the racial climate in the law school immensely,” wrote a nominator. Wrote another: “They often set the tone for the growing number of other diverse populations within the college. The tone that they have set has been one of inclusiveness, frank discussion and full involvement with the entire law school community.”
“Dr. Henry Fischbach is a living example of a person with a burning passion,” wrote a nominator. “That is, a desire to reach minorities and in particular the Latina/Latino community to open for them the doors of opportunities.” Fischbach, a bilingual native of Puerto Rico, founded the local student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association (HDA) and at the national level, he is chair-elect of the HAD’s Young Professionals Program. He established a counseling program and set up dental student externships at La Clinica Latina, which provides free medical service to minorities. Fischbach works to introduce the career of dentistry to high school and university students. He has visited Ohio migrant workers, has taken a recruitment trip to Puerto Rico, representing the Office of Minority Affairs and the Health Science Center, and spearheaded a weeklong series of events in the College of Dentistry for Hispanic Awareness Month. He participated in the steering committee that won a $1.5 million grant to recruit and retain minority students in the college and has been asked to chair the university's Hispanic Oversight Committee.
James L. Nichols
As University Treasurer, Jim Nichols has established a model for implementing diversity goals in a non-academic unit. Nichols established policies and procedures to ensure the use of minority firms in the investing of university funds. “Jim’s reputation of providing investment-related opportunities is well known in the minority financial community,” wrote a nominator. “Jim goes beyond the obligatory procedures, he makes himself accessible, which allows minority companies to know and be mentored by a committed individual.” Within his department, Nichols is credited with establishing an environment that embraces diversity, through hiring practices, training opportunities and recognition programs. His work has been recognized beyond the university, earning him accolades from private firms and organizations as well as the first Annual Outreach Award, given by the National Association of Securities Professionals. Nichols has served on the boards of and volunteered for a number of community groups, including the YWCA Women of Achievement, the United Negro College Fund, the Young Scholars Mentoring Program, the Columbus Neighborhood Housing Services and the Columbus Medical Association. His work continues: Nichols was recently appointed by President Karen Holbrook to redefine the overall minority purchasing goals for the university.
Marianne C. Rehkop
The Mother-Baby Unit in the University Hospitals has taken the lead in addressing how immigration to Columbus by a number of ethnicities impacts the kind of care that needs to be provided at the hospital. Marianne Rehkop, program manager for education, has facilitated a number of the unit’s efforts, including arranging for a Spanish-speaking maternity tour to be led through the OSU Hospitals each month by a nurse from the Mother-Baby Unit. Patients benefit from the translation into Spanish of 240 educational documents and hospital information handouts and patient satisfaction surveys translated into Spanish and Somali. Rehkop also organized staff in-services aimed at gaining insight and sensitivity, with training including presentations on aspects of Spanish-speaking and Somali childbearing practices. In an effort to communicate better with their patients, members of the unit participate, on their own time, in a Spanish language course targeted to health care workers. As an educator of new staff, Rehkop assesses whether new hires have had exposure to diverse groups and makes a presentation on working in a diverse environment. The unit organizes quarterly “Ethnic Luncheons,” assists with the hospital's recruitment of Filipino nurses and finds ways to share with each other the many cultures found within their ranks -- 13 languages are spoken by the staff.
Patience E. Whitworth
“As an undergraduate student, Patience Whitworth demonstrates a commitment to enhancing diversity through her involvement and leadership in a number of diversity-related programs, organizations and groups that focus on creating a supportive environment for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons,” wrote a nominator. A member of the Mount Leadership Society, Whitworth volunteers at the Columbus AIDS Task Force; works as a facilitator for Common Ground Peer Counseling, a peer-mediated organization for discussions of GLBT issues; she coordinated last spring’s Other Prom, a prom experience for high school GLBT students; she served as co-chair of FUSION, a student group that provides a safe space for GLBT people and allies; and she co-chaired the Midwest Bisexual, Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Ally College Conference, held in Columbus in February. Whitworth is a co-founder of Out in Business, a student group in the Fisher College of Business. She also serves on the board of Reconciling Ministries Network, a grassroots organization within the United Methodist denomination, and is a member of Jewish Queers, a student organization. “I am continually pleased with Patience’s enthusiasm, creativity and integrity,” wrote a nominator. “She completes what she commits to, and her work is always outstanding.”
2003 Distinguished Diversity Enhancement Award