Recipients of the President's Awards for Diversity 2008 and Awards Ceremony

Congratulations !! President's Awards for Diversity-2008 Winners

The President's Commission on Diversity announces the winners for the 2008 President's Award for Diversity. The new 2006-2009 Strategic Plan of the University of Kentucky recognizes the importance of institutional diversity and has established a definitive goal for the University to embrace and nurture diversity of thought, culture, gender and ethnicity. In recognition of this important objective, the University has established the President's Award for Diversity (PAD) in honor and appreciation to those who have demonstrated outstanding efforts toward advancing the University's mission of embracing diversity while maintaining academic excellence. A public awards ceremony will be held on Thursday, April 17, 2008, 4.00 p.m. Location: Main Building, Lexmark Room, Roomno:209. The keynote speaker will be Hasan Davis, lawyer, educator, youth advocate and actor. He received his bachelor's degree in oral communications from Berea College and earned his Juris Doctor of Law at UK.

The Recipients of the President's Awards for Divesity-2008 .

Nirmal Ravi, Graduate Student (MD/PhD) in the College of Medicine and department of Bio-medical Engineering -- UK Student Category

Professor, Dr. Joan Callahan, Department of Philosophy/Program in Gender and Women Studies -- UK Faculty Category

Professor, Dr. Christopher Schardl, Harry E. Wheeler Chair in Plant Mycology -- UK Faculty Category

Professor, Dr. Karl B. Raitz, Chair, Department of Geography -- UK Faculty Category

Ms. Marietta Watts, Training Specialist, Human Resources -- UK Staff Category

Dr. Jay A. Perman, Dean UK College of Medince-- UK Administrator Category

Martin Luther King Jr. Cultural Center(MLKCC)-- Other Individual or Agency in Kentucky Category

STUDENT NIRMAL RAVI is a graduate student (MD/PhD) in the College of Medicine and department of biomedical engineering. Mr. Ravi created a short video (Click here to view the video) featuring his student life at the University of Kentucky and in the US. In the department of Biomedical engineering, he is actively involved in research and development of “smart biomaterials” for controlled gene delivery. In 2006, Mr. Ravi was appointed student representative for International Affairs to work with the Internationalization Task Force to expand student enrollment. Mr. Ravi’s activities and studies reflect his dedication and commitment to inclusion and diversity for all population groups. His wide-range of contributions to the University are truly worthy of recognition.

FACULTY (1) PROFESSOR JOAN CALLAHAN has been a member of the Arts and Sciences faculty for 22 years. She is full professor in the Philosophy Department and is the former Director of Gender and Women’s Studies. Professor Callahan’s commitment to equity, inclusion and diversity has been widely demonstrated throughout her work. She single-handedly advocated for a new academic department of Gender and Women Studies and succeeded. She is tirelessly supportive of women, gender minorities, ethnic and cultural minorities, and persons with disabilities. Her commitment to building diverse communities rests solidly on her dedication to social justice and her compassion for people. She understands acutely that a learning community and academic excellence necessitates the inclusion of multiple perspectives. Professor Callahan’s work has had a lasting impact on diversifying the University of Kentucky.

(2) PROFESSOR KARL RAITZ has taught at the University for almost 40 years, and has been Chair of the Department of Geography in the College of Arts and Sciences since 1996. In his capacity as Chair, he has demonstrated an ongoing and deep commitment to diversity. Under his leadership, the Department has made major strides in the inclusion of women and minorities as faculty, students and postdoctoral fellows. The department’s 5 women faculty and an African American associate professor have all been hired under the leadership of Professor Raitz. He is deeply supportive of recruitment efforts aimed at minority applicants, resulting to four students receiving the Lyman T. Johnson fellowships. In a White male dominated department, these kind of changes do not happen without supportive, committed, and skilled chairs such as Professor Raitz.

(3) PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER SCHARDL has taught at the University for almost 23 years, and holds the Harry E. Wheeler Chair in Plant Mycology. He was Director of Graduate Studies in Plant Pathology from 1995-2003. He is both, a seeker of new knowledge and a teacher of the knowledge gained. Professor Schardl is a prolific publisher, a dedicated professor at both undergraduate and graduate levels, and a devoted mentor to students and postdoctoral scholars. Throughout the years, Professor Schardl has mentored students at all levels, including women and those from other institutions. As Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Schardl has worked tirelessly to enhance his program through collaboration activities with the former Diversity officer in Agricultural. Professor Schardl is an exemplary member of the faculty, one whose efforts have provided opportunity where little or none existed before.

STAFF MARIETTA WATTS has been a member of the staff in Human Resource Development since 2002. As an expert trainer, Ms. Watts’s style has garnered the attention of supervisors and managers who appreciate, not the content of the material, but the way Ms. Watts was able to help participants see, and even value, each others point of view. Ms Watts was a key player in the development of broad-scale “diversity training”, as part of the training package offered by Human Resources. The UK Humanity Academy goes beyond the obvious differences of race, gender, class and age. Ms. Watts is a highly skilled facilitator, able to guide participants through difficult topics on race, class and gender, resulting in the creation of a climate of trust and sensitivity. Serving in one of the key areas on campus, Ms Watts contribution to is deserving of recognition.

ADMINISTRATOR DEAN JAY PERMAN is an administrator and pediatrics faculty in the College of Medicine. In his four short years at the University, he has made major impacts in hiring, retention and promotion of minority candidates from around the world. Under Dean Perman’s directive, the admissions office of the College of Medicine has pro-actively recruited a diverse group of students and has been successful in increasing the proportion of under-represented students in the college. Dean Perman was instrumental in the establishment of the Dean’s Diversity Advisory Committee in the College of Medicine to promote and retain diversity at all levels, including students, staff, and faculty and reflect diverse age, race, religion, sex, ethnicity and country of origin. Dean Perman is truly a visionary, engaging core missions of teaching, patient care, and research.

OTHER INDIVIDUAL OR AGENCY MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CULTURAL CENTER (MLKCC) is the premier place on campus for the promotion of diversity and inclusiveness. Since 1987, the mission of the Center has been to help connect people by providing a space for interaction, fostering an understanding and appreciation of African American and Latino peoples of America, while showing how diversity intersects overlaps, and compliments the cultures of African, European, Asian/Pacific Islanders, Caribbean, and the Indigenous peoples. The Center provides cultural programming, student support and development, and community outreach, all designed to foster truth and integrity, creativity and resourcefulness and most importantly, respect and acceptance. The MLKCC has had a lasting impact on diversifying the University of Kentucky.

For more information, contact

Allan G. Richards, Ed.D.
President’s Commission on Diversity(
203C Main Building
Campus 0032
859-257-3493 or