Example of an Award-winning Nomination

The following copy was submitted in support of the nomination for Distinguished Diversity Leader Team Award recipient Deborah Goldberg and the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Frontiers Masters Program Team.

I would like to support the nomination of the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Frontiers Master’s Program team for the Distinguished Diversity Leaders Award.  The team consists of Deborah Goldberg, Beverly Rathke, Mark Hunter, and Christy Byks-Jazayeri.   This team has designed a program which seeks a diverse cohort of students for a Master’s degree whose enthusiasm for science may be sparked just enough (it is the goal!) by their experience in this unique program to pursue a PhD degree.  Many students who might not go on to study in the field of biological sciences need a structure that this new program can provide, such as workshops on professional career and research topics such as grantwriting and choosing a research topic; the opportunity to work with a research mentor on a project; a chance to gain teaching and research experience; and the option to survey the wide field of ecology and evolutionary biology, among other things.  Providing all of this as a fully-funded program makes it a less risky endeavor for a student who has faced hurdles to higher education in the past.  Mark Hunter has commented that an opportunity promoted to those with non-traditional backgrounds made a difference in his own life, and thus created a personal connection to the value of this program.

While many ideas are suggested and discussed about how to increase diversity in our graduate programs, Deborah Goldberg and her team are unique in that they followed through with the idea by presenting a proposal, securing 2 years of funding from LSA, Rackham and the UM NSF-AGEP, and recruiting and matriculating four diverse students, all in record time.

Deborah Goldberg has also put into place a departmental position to help recruit the best students to EEB.  Christy Byks-Jazayeri is charged with recruiting a diverse and talented pool of applicants.  This is one example of actions EEB has taken in the recent past which surely has something to do with the success of the program so far.  The fact that Christy can completely focus on recruitment will bode well for them in the long run.  Often recruitment is divided up among a combination of student services staff and faculty who do what they can with limited time and funding they possess to recruit a strong applicant pool.

Also, under the guidance of graduate chair Beverly Rathke, EEB has actively attended national conferences of diverse student attendees over the past few years.  EEB sends a combination of faculty, staff, and graduate students who actively talk with students about the reasons they should consider a graduate degree.  I believe efforts like this have made a difference to the students EEB is seeing in their program.  The inaugural cohort of four students is very diverse and I believe they should feel quite proud of their accomplishments to date.  I feel this team deserves strong consideration for this award.