University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

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Staff, Faculty and the Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership awarded for work in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

The image shows four people who are the 2023 award winners of the Larine Y. Cowan Awards.

Four University of Illinois faculty and staff members and the Department of Education, Policy, Organization & Inclusion will be recognized for their exceptional dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion as the 2023 recipients of the Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Awards.

The Larine Y. Cowan Awards are presented annually to University of Illinois faculty and staff by the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in four categories: Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs, Excellence in Access & Accommodations, Leadership in Diversity, and Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity.

Named in honor of the past Assistant Chancellor and Director of what is now the Office for Access & Equity, these annual awards reflect the commitment to human rights advocacy and diversity that defined the leadership of Larine Y. Cowan for nearly 20 years at Illinois.

This year’s award recipients will be honored at the 38th Annual Celebration of Diversity on Friday, November 10, 2023, at the I Hotel and Conference Center.

A special thank you to the 2023 Make a Difference Award Review Committee Members, which include previous Cowan Award Winners Anne Fredricksen (20), Alejandro Gomez Jr.(14), Avital Livny (21), Sharde Smith (21), Monika Stodolska (19).

Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity: Trina J. Wright-Dixon, Ph.D.

Trina J. Wright-Dixon is the Interim Assistant Dean of Inclusive Excellence in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in the Office of the Dean. In addition, she is a Teaching Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Professor Wright-Dixon is a diversity consultant on workforce diversity, best practices, programs, and policies. Wright-Dixon is an organizational communication scholar and consultant dedicated to the study of organizational socialization and intersectional differences within the workplace. She specializes in studying the unique workplace experiences of Black women, race and identity, diversity and racial social justice, mentoring, and racial reconciliation. In addition to the University of Illinois, Wright-Dixon has held faculty positions at The Pennsylvania State University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Over the past two decades, Professor Wright-Dixon has created diversity curriculum and workshops to increase excellence in the academe and organizations.

Excellence in Access and Accommodations: Liam Moran

Liam Moran has supported the University of Illinois’ teaching, learning, research, and public service missions since arriving on campus in 2000, primarily through efforts in video production, video infrastructure, and software development. He began his partnership with DRES in 2005 when the first accommodation request was made by a student for streaming media hosted on campus servers. Since then, he’s made it a mission to ensure that video captioning was available on educational and promotional videos at Illinois. He’s also developed novel techniques to audio describe videos produced on campus and built accessible user interfaces for student-facing software platforms used in courses.

Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs: Toby Beauchamp and Mimi Thi Nguyen

Toby Beauchamp is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of the book Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and U.S. Surveillance Practices (Duke University Press, 2019), and his research on trans studies, surveillance, and policing has appeared in journals including GLQ, Feminist Formations, Radical History Review, and Surveillance & Society, among others. He co-directed the Center for Advanced Studies initiative on Abolition during 2019-2021.

Mimi Thi Nguyen is an Associate Professor and Chair of Gender and Women’s Studies at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Her first book is The Gift of Freedom: War, Debt, and Other Refugee Passages, and her second is The Promise of Beauty. She is part of an editorial collective for Bangtan Remixed, a critical reader on Korean pop band BTS, and she has also published in Signs, Camera Obscura, Women & Performance, positions: asia critique, Radical History Review, and ArtForum, among others. Nguyen has made zines since 1991, including Slander and the compilation zine Race Riot. She is a former Punk Planet columnist and Maximum rocknroll volunteer.

Leadership in Diversity: The Department of Education Policy, Organization & Leadership, College of Education

The Education Policy, Organization & Leadership department is training a new generation of researchers to better address issues in educational policy and practice.

Drawing upon traditional strengths in social foundations, education leadership, higher education and human resource development, the department enables graduate students and faculty to support and collaborate with each other in coordinated new synergies to address the most critical issues in education.

The department fosters an interdisciplinary understanding of education policy and practice across traditional divides among philosophers, historians, social scientists, organizational theorists, policy analysts & education administrators.