Inaugural Diversity Leadership Award winners reflect King's values

During his remarks at the commencement of Martin Luther King Jr. Week, President Zimmer announced the inaugural recipients of the University's Diversity Leadership Awards.

The Diversity Leadership Council chose the winners, which included a University staff member and two alumni whose work, Zimmer said, "has embodied Dr. King's values."

Larry Hawkins, Director of Special Programs and College Preparation, won the 2009 Diversity Leadership Staff Award. James Hormel (J.D., '58) and Hedy Ratner (A.M., '74) shared the 2009 Diversity Leadership Alumni Award.

"In 2007, I appointed the Diversity Leadership Council as a steward of the University's mission to support diversity on campus and in our relationships with the surrounding neighborhoods and with our business partners," Zimmer said. "Part of the council's role is to recognize University staff members who have been exemplary leaders in our efforts to support diversity. The council, along with the University's Alumni Board of Governors, also recognizes University alumni who display extraordinary leadership in advancing social justice and equality."

The Diversity Leadership Awards were conferred Thursday, Jan. 15 at an afternoon reception in the Quad Club. The co-chairs of the Diversity Leadership Council-Julie Peterson, Vice President for Communications, and Kenneth Warren, Deputy Provost for Research & Minority Issues- introduced the recipients.

The University recruited Hawkins in 1968 for a new position that would create an educational outreach program for talented minority students who come from lower-income families.

"Throughout his life, Larry Hawkins has demonstrated an unwavering dedication to opportunity for Chicago youth, particularly those from minority communities," Peterson said. "As Director of Special Programs and College Preparation, he has helped generations of students discover their talents and go on to succeed in college and in life."

Hormel was the first openly gay man to represent the United States as an ambassador; President Bill Clinton appointed him the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg in 1999. Hormel's personal and professional lives have been devoted to human rights and gay and lesbian scholarship and culture, including the establishment of the James C. Hormel Gay and Lesbian Center in San Francisco. He also served as Assistant Dean and Dean of Students of the Law School from 1961 to 1967.

"James Hormel is a pioneer," Warren said. "He has been a resolute pioneer for gay and lesbian scholarship and culture. In fact, he has devoted his life to the support of human rights."

Ratner has made it her life's work to support and impact women's rights. She is the co-founder and co-president of the Women's Business Development Center, the country's largest, oldest and most comprehensive women's business assistance center.

"Visionary. Indefatigable. Inspired and inspiring. Hedy Ratner is all of these," Warren said. "Her tireless efforts to achieve a better society have a national impact in advancing opportunities for women- and minority-owned businesses. An activist for women's issues for more than 30 years, Hedy has long been involved in spearheading initiatives to enhance women's economic power."

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