2017 Advocate for Equity in Accessibility Awards Announced

Four outstanding IUPUI staff and faculty members were recognized during the Annual Diversity Soiree sponsored by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) on September 20, 2017 with the Advocate for Equity in Accessibility Award.  Establishing during the 2015-2016 academic year to recognize the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), the award is presented to IUPUI staff and faculty who have gone above and beyond in their support of students with disabilities.  “Individuals nominated for the award represent IUPUI professionals who help to make the dream of higher education a reality for an often forgotten group of students,” explained Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Karen Dace.  

Recipients of the 2017 award include Wende’ Nichols Ferguson, Ronald M. Sandwina, Mark G. Urtel and Pam A. King.


Wende Nichols Ferguson is senior associate director for student affairs in the McKinney School of Law where one of her responsibilities includes advising and managing all ADA accommodations.  She works diligently to ensure a smooth transition into Law School and that the necessary services are in place so that students have one less thing to worry about as they pursue their law degrees.  Ms. Nichols Ferguson has earned the reputation as the “go-to person” for students with disabilities in the McKinney School.


sandwinaRonald M. Sandwina is the general studies program director in the School of Liberal Arts and director of undergraduate studies in the Communication Studies Department.  His nominator wrote “Ron has worked tirelessly with AES students and always tries to find a way to assist all students with achieving their academic goals. He goes out of his way to mentor and support many students  at IUPUI by offering encouragement and guidance.  There is no doubt that Ron has played a significant role in the persistence of many students all the way to graduation.”   

markMark G. Urtel, is a professor in the Physical Education Department in the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management and is known for finding creative and thoughtful ways to accommodate students.  Where some see hopelessness, Professor Urtel sees hope, limitless possibilities and the promise of a brighter future for students with disabilities.  As one nominator wrote “Mark always finds a way to accommodate a student, making sure everyone with the desire to can participate fully in his classes.” One of Professor Urtel’s students with a disability went on to become an Olympian as well as an IUPUI graduate. Currently, Professor Urtel is adapting a course to accommodate a visually impaired student.  “Mark Urtel is a rare faculty member who embraces the disability of his students and then works with each student to find the best way to ensure their success,” a nominator wrote.

kingThe final award recipient is Adaptive Educational Services (AES) Director Pam King who, after serving in that role for 28 years, recently announced her decision to retire.  “Anyone who has been around IUPUI for more than a minute knows that there is no greater advocate for individuals with disabilities than Pam King,” Dace said.  During her tenure Ms. King has been a constant, making sure the institution is mindful of the needs of veterans with post-traumatic stress syndrome, blind students in need of a textbook transcribed into braille or a deaf community member visiting campus for an important keynote lecture hoping there will be a sign language interpreter present.   “I have always thought of Pam’s advocacy for individuals with disabilities as integral to the work we are charged to do at IUPUI—create opportunities where everyone has the chance to thrive.  She has been faithful to a community with disparate needs and a voice for those often unheard,” Dace elaborated.

When Ms. King began her career at IUPUI, the office she lead was known as the Disabled Student Services.  When students using the office under the former title approached her suggesting the name, Disabled Student Services Office had a negative connotation—they said “we have a disability but we are not disabled students”—Pam worked with them to change the name to its current Adaptive Educational Services.  “From the beginning, Pam King has always been an Advocate for Equity in Accessibility,” Dace said.

In addition to receiving an engraved plaque during the Diversity Soiree, the names of each recipient go on to the permanent, wall-mounted Advocates for Equity in Accessibility plaque located in Taylor Hall near Adaptive Educational Services and the bust of Joseph Taylor, the founding Dean of the School of Liberal Arts.  The father of a special needs daughter, Dean Taylor was another advocate for students, staff and faculty with disabilities.  “The placement of their names to the permanent wall plaque means that the legacy of their commitment to and advocacy for IUPUI students with disabilities will be on display for years, even decades, to come,” Dace concluded.

Inaugural Diversity Faculty Awards

Congratulations to the winners of these inaugural diversity faculty awards:

Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching/Pedagogy

Jennifer Thorington-Springer, Associate Professor of English. She is an individual recipient of the 2010 Joseph T. Taylor Excellence in Diversity award, asn well as a member of the Multicultural Teaching Community of Practice, the program recipient of the 2011 Taylor award. Dr. Thorington-Springer has been called "one of this institution's strongest advocates for excellence in diversity."  

Chancellor's Diversity Scholar

Robin Hughes, Assistant Professor in  HESA. Her research has focused on race, and how those issues might impact faculty and students of color in higher ed. She is a frequent contributor to "The Diverse Blog," an online companion to the magazine "Diverse: Issues in Higher Education." Her research also deals with the development of students who are athletes participating in revenue generating sports. Hughes co-founded and co-edits the Journal for the Study of Sports and Athletes in Education.

  • Dr. Joseph T. Taylor Award

    In honor of Dr. Joseph T. Taylor, the first dean of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, this is a call for nominations and applications for the 13th annual IUPUI Excellence in Diversity Awards. The awards will be conferred by Chancellor Charles R. Bantz during the 24th Annual Joseph T. Taylor Symposium on February 27, 2013. Award recipient(s) will be selected from nominations or applications submitted by faculty, staff or students in recognition of exemplary IUPUI individuals, academic and support programs, events, policies and activities that have led to one or more of the following:

    • Institutional Leadership and Commitment—Clarity of expectations, resource investment, and accountability at all levels of leadership.
    • Curricular and Co-Curricular Transformation—Incorporation of principles of multiculturalism, pluralism, equity and diversity into the curriculum and co-curriculum.
    • Campus Climate—The degree to which the events, messages, symbols, values of the campus make it a welcoming and inclusive environment.
    • Representational Diversity—The degree to which the campus attracts, retains, and develops students, faculty, and staff of color.
    • IUPUI Community in issues related to race, class, or gender through innovative curriculum, research, programs or events.
  • Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching

    The Office of the Chancellor and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion invite nominations to recognize an outstanding faculty member for this teaching award. IUPUI is committed to preparing the next generation of culturally competent, global citizens who value diversity both within and across cultures. Multicultural teaching is recognized as a principal strategy through which the campus' vision, mission and goals related to diversity are realized. The Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Multicultural Teaching acknowledges faculty who integrate culturally relevant content into their curriculum, who employ an inclusive, student-centered pedagogy, and who champion diversity as a value that ensures the academic success of all students.

  • Multicultural Impact Award for Staff

    The Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion invites nominations of outstanding staff members who have demonstrated exceptional support of, and made extraordinary contributions, to diversity in all its shapes and forms.  These champions of social justice work diligently to ensure that all voices are heard, acknowledged and celebrated.  Often, their contributions to creating a more welcoming and inclusive campus community is outside of their expected job duties.  

  • Advocate for Equity in Accessibility Award

    In recognition of IUPUI staff, faculty and administrators who go “above and beyond” to ensure that students with disabilities enjoy all of the benefits of campus life possible.  Working closely with the professionals in Adaptive Educational Services, these advocates work behind the scenes to remove obstacles so that students with disabilities receive the appropriate accommodations in order to succeed.  Each year, the recipients of the Advocate for Equity in Accessibility Award will be acknowledged publicly.  Their names will be added to a permanently mounted plaque in the hallway of Taylor Hall, named for Joseph Taylor, IUPUI’s first Dean of Liberal Arts, a vocal supporter of students with disabilities.