Bowman and Hale to receive Diversity Leadership Awards

In recognition of extensive work promoting diversity, equality and community action, Professor Emeritus James Bowman and Medical Center administrative director Lynda Hale will receive the University’s 2011 Diversity Leadership Awards.

Bowman, Professor Emeritus in Pathology and Medicine, will receive the Diversity Leadership Award for Alumni, which recognizes leaders who advance social justice and equality at the University and more broadly. Hale, Administrative Director of the Primary Care Group, will receive the Diversity Leadership Award for Staff, which honors employees who are exemplary leaders in the University’s efforts to support diversity on campus and in the community.

“James and Lynda have made important contributions to the diversity that is integral to the University of Chicago’s mission,” said President Robert J. Zimmer. “Their work has had a profound impact on our community, and these awards are a reflection of the influence of their leadership.”

Bowman, who attended the University of Chicago in 1964, and is an internationally recognized expert in pathology, genetics, and sickle cell anemia, was selected to receive the award for his commitment to mentoring students and supporting the career development of young medical professionals. He has been a role model to many Pritzker School of Medicine students, including current faculty members Eric Whitaker, Executive Vice President for Strategic Affiliations and Associate Dean for Community-based Research, and Anita Blanchard, Associate Professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Bowman also is being honored for placing a spotlight on health disparities and emphasizing the need for quality medical care for underserved minorities. Bowman served as Assistant Dean of Students for Minority Affairs from 1986 to 1990, and continues to serve on the Committee on Genetics and the Committee on African and African American Studies. As a researcher on sickle cell anemia—which affects an estimated 72,000 people in the United States, mostly of African ancestry, and millions worldwide—Bowman served as the Principal Investigator of the University’s Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center.

“James Bowman’s longstanding commitment to the study of sickle cell disease, both here and abroad, and his advocacy for communities and individuals affected by this mutation stand as the model for today’s discussions of insurability and discrimination on the basis of genetic predisposition,” said William McDade, Associate Professor in Anesthesiology and Critical Care and Deputy Provost for Research & Minority Issues.

McDade serves as co-chair of the University’s Diversity Leadership Council with co-chair Julie Peterson, Vice President for Communications. The Council, which has presented the Diversity Leadership Awards annually since 2009, helps advance diversity initiatives on campus, in the surrounding neighborhoods and in the University’s business partnerships.

Colleagues said both Bowman and Hale have served the University and the wider Chicago community in ways that advance the University’s academic mission while providing opportunities for minorities and people in underserved areas.

One measure of Bowman’s impact is the Pritzker School of Medicine Bowman Society, which McDade helped to found in 2005. It honors Bowman’s legacy through lectures and meetings that foster a mission-based culture of diversity and inclusion among faculty members, fellows, residents, and medical students at the graduate and undergraduate levels in the Biological Sciences Division and the medical school. The society also offers a platform for participants to share research interests and to discuss how health disparities influence their work.

“Having grown up in the community, I witnessed the personal impact that a leader and educator like Dr. Bowman can make on those who contemplate a career in medicine and medical research,” said Eric Whitaker, who has known Bowman for more than 25 years. “He has the rare ability to gain the confidence of young people, nurture and guide them toward the right career path,” he added.

Hale, the Administrative Director of the Primary Care Group for the past 14 years, is recognized as a tireless advocate for her staff’s career advancement and educational enrichment.

Colleagues said Hale encourages her 35-member staff’s development by allowing flexible work schedules to accommodate classes they take. She also helps them sharpen existing job skills and learn new ones. Most recently, Hale has mentored Nicole McGhee, who obtained certification as a professional coder, Archie Belton, who obtained a bachelor’s degree, Jeanine Woodall, who was promoted to a management position in Endocrinology, and Virginia Brumby, who is pursuing a bachelor’s degree.

Hale extends her mentoring role to her volunteer work with the international program Dress for Success, which provides career coaching and clothing for disadvantaged women seeking permanent employment. She also volunteers with many local programs and institutions such as After School Matters, the Bronzeville Children’s Museum and the DuSable Museum of African American History.

Under Hale’s leadership, appreciation and respect for diversity are integral to the everyday operations of the Primary Care Group, as she navigates complex interactions between the clinic staff, patients, physician trainees and faculty members.

In a nomination letter written jointly by Lisa Vinci, Assistant Professor and Medical Director of the Primary Care Group, and Monica Vela, Associate Professor in Medicine, her colleagues noted that Hale has “established a culture of collegiality and mutual respect. By expecting and modeling civility, she sets a standard for the internal medicine residents and students trained at our institution that we hope they carry with them throughout their careers as physicians.

“She has always been a model of professionalism, assertive and insightful, contributing to the success of what we do best at this institution — provide patient-centered care and top-notch education to our trainees,” Vela and Vinci’s letter read.

Bowman and Hale will be honored at a special reception on Thursday, Jan. 13, at the Quadrangle Club, where President Zimmer will confer the Diversity Leadership Awards. They also will be recognized at the University’s annual MLK celebration in Rockefeller Memorial Chapel on Friday, Jan. 14.