Colleen Bronner Receives Chancellor's Fellowship for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

Composite photo of the four recipients
The fellowship recipients, all associate professors, from left: Diane Beckles, Colleen Bronner, Milmon F. Harrison and Margarita Jimenez-Silva.

By Melissa Blouin on July 16, 2020 

Chancellor Gary S. May and the Davis Division of the Academic Senate have announced the inaugural recipients of the Chancellor’s Fellowships for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The honored faculty members are:

  • Diane Beckles, Department of Plant Sciences
  • Colleen Bronner, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering
  • Milmon F. Harrison, Department of African American and African Studies
  • Margarita Jimenez-Silva, School of Education

The awards stem from Chancellor Gary S. May’s request to the Academic Senate’s Committee on Affirmative Action and Diversity, to develop a program recognizing faculty members’ exceptional efforts in diversity, equity and inclusion. According to the call for nominations distributed in January 2020, recipients must have demonstrated “an abiding commitment to reducing opportunity gaps for underrepresented students and/or students from underserved communities.”

“Faculty members are a critical component of our efforts to build a more diverse campus community,” the chancellor said. “They provide that personal connection to ensure all our students are welcome here and know that they belong here.”

Kristin Lagattuta, senate chair, said of the 2019-20 fellows: “They stand out for their extraordinary efforts in recruitment and retention, mentoring, inclusivity in the classroom, and commitment to social justice and equity.”

Each fellow receives $5,000 in academic enrichment funds to support their continued efforts in support of diversity, equity and inclusion. The fellows are due to give reports on their activities, to the Academic Senate.

  • Diane Beckles, associate professor, Department of Plant Sciences, College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences — She has demonstrated extraordinary leadership, contributions, results and impact in diversity, equity and inclusion, at the classroom, departmental, campus and UC levels. She has increased the number of African American students in the UC system through the UC Historically Black Universities and Colleges Initiative. At UC Davis, among other efforts, she actively recruits/retains African American students through the Plant Agricultural Biology Graduate Admissions Pathway Program, trains/mentors underrepresented minority students in her lab, and creates an inclusive classroom to promote, sustain, ensure and further students’ scholarship. The fellowship will help her carry out a five-point STEM pipeline plan to increase recruitment and retention of underrepresented minority students over three to five years.
  • Colleen Bronner, associate professor of teaching, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, College of Engineering — Recognized for her extraordinary efforts toward improving diversity, equity and inclusion in the student population. She demonstrates her commitment to student success and inclusive learning through the development of courses that are focused on active student engagement, and she challenges students to think about issues such as implicit bias within the context of engineering. She is engaged in several professional groups that reach out to recruit and support students from underserved populations. She mentors underrepresented minority students and brings them together with faculty from underrepresented groups to create a culture of acceptance and belonging.
  • Milmon F. Harrison, associate professor, Department of African American and African Studies, College of Letters and Science — Recognized for working to increase the number of students from first-generation and underrepresented minorities at UC Davis, in part by serving as the faculty director of Mentorships for Undergraduate Research in Agriculture, Letters and Science, or MURALS, in the Office of Educational Opportunity and Enrichment Services. His inspiring approach to the cause of diversity, equity and inclusion — which he views as an “everyday” community responsibility — is based on cultivating a welcoming educational space and intentionally promoting dialogue among students from all backgrounds. He does this through his innovative storytelling pedagogy, “hidden-curriculum” mentorship, interdisciplinary collaborations surrounding issues of race and identity, and commitment to public engagement and outreach to foster discussion and understanding among people.
  • Margarita Jimenez-Silva, associate professor, School of Education — As a designer of teacher education, her impact is broad and deep. She draws on her experience as a first-generation Latina to relate to the needs of diverse kindergarten-through-12th-grade students and reimagine the teacher education curriculum with a stronger focus on social justice and equity. She mentors undergraduate and graduate students on research projects that pertain to diversity and inclusion. She has provided students from underserved communities and recent immigrants with opportunities through her research, leadership, service, teaching and mentoring. Her advocacy and engagement work at the local, state, and national levels have advanced understanding of bilingual teaching and teaching in alternative settings.

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