Excerpted from The University Record article by Safiyah Merchant.
Two faculty members, Ellen Arruda and Dawn Tilbury, have received the 2017 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the Office of the Provost for their service to developing a culturally and ethnically diverse U-M community. They are among seven recipients of the award.
“The University of Michigan is incredibly fortunate to have such an outstanding group of recipients this year. Their commitment and contributions make us better as a university, and their impact on challenging issues has been invaluable,” says Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.
“I’m confident these efforts will have a lasting effect in making U-M a more diverse, equitable and inclusive community.”
Established in 1996, the award is given in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work. The awards will be presented during a May 9 ceremony in which recipients will receive $5,000 towards further research, scholarship or student service opportunities.
Arruda, professor of mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering and macromolecular science and engineering, has worked to support women faculty members in their careers, and to share her knowledge about higher education, careers and working in science and engineering with historically underrepresented student groups.
A teacher and researcher in the areas of theoretical and experimental mechanics of macromolecular materials as well as tissue engineering, Arruda helped create and implement the Big 10 Women’s Workshop in 2010, 2013 and 2016. These workshops were designed to give junior women faculty members the chance to cultivate peer collaboration and mentoring relationships, and to foster interactions between junior and senior women faculty.
Arruda served on the Women in Engineering Office executive board from 1999 to 2001 and she has continuously served on panels and workshops for the Women in Science and Engineering Program, which is designed to increase the number of girls and women pursuing degrees and careers in STEM fields. She has discussed career options in engineering, how to combine personal and professional lives, why students should consider going to graduate school, and issues for women in non-traditional careers.
Arruda regularly volunteers to talk to students in the M-STEM Academies, a high-school-to-college transition program for students from diverse backgrounds. In this program, students really respond to Arruda, who also volunteers to speak at their Thursday evening career panels during the summer.
She has mentored 49 undergraduate students doing research in her laboratory, including many women and students of color.
The engineering professor has served on NextProf panels that aim to encourage those with a demonstrated commitment to diversity to consider academia. She also served on the CoE Dean’s Advisory Committee on Female Faculty from 2001-06.
“Professor Arruda has always been on the forefront of advocating for women and underrepresented minority students,” said Alec D. Gallimore, Robert J. Vlasic Dean of Engineering, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor, Richard F. and Eleanor A. Towner Professor of Engineering and professor of aerospace engineering.
Tilbury, chair of the Steering Committee on Advanced Manufacturing, professor of mechanical engineering, and of electrical engineering and computer science, has been a leader and advocate for female faculty in the Michigan Engineering for the past two decades.
Tilbury encouraged the creation of the Dean’s Advisory Committee for Female Faculty, which offers feedback to the Michigan Engineering dean about the status of women faculty in the college. She led the organization of the first Big 10 Women’s Workshop, which offers professional development for new female faculty in engineering, and played a key organizational role in subsequent workshops.
Under Tilbury’s leadership of the DACFF, major activities were initiated, which included conducting interviews with all Michigan Engineering department chairs to understand and create a report about best and worst practices in recruiting, retention, mentoring and governance that contribute to diversity and climate; administering surveys to tenured women and male faculty to understand any disparities in leadership opportunities; and starting the practice of providing a non-evaluative meeting with every female faculty candidate interviewing with Michigan Engineering.
“Dawn turns her commitment and passion into real actions that have resulted in concrete outcomes and a positive impact on diversity, both within and outside the University,” Mingyan Liu, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, co-wrote with Allison Steiner, associate professor of climate and space sciences and engineering.