MLK diversity awards honor five faculty, staff

Whether it was through their teaching, work at a conference, desire to stand up for others, or simply being themselves, each recipient of the UO Martin Luther King, Jr. Award has worked to promote equality on campus by teaching and living the ideals of King.

University President Dave Frohnmayer will distribute the awards today in a ceremony in Gerlinger Lounge at 11:30 a.m. The annual ceremony is presented by the Human Resources department and the Office of Institutional Equality and Diversity.

Faculty were nominated by their peers for their work in promoting diversity and social equality.

Michael Dreiling

Dreiling’s work is inspired by King’s vision of civil equality and practice of non-violence. An associate professor in sociology, Dreiling studies how social changes affect movements of power. Last fall, he hosted the Nonviolence as a Way of Life Conference at the University, which attracted many civil rights activists, including a member of King’s staff. “Non-violence as a political, as well as a moral tool, can enrich humanity,” Dreiling said about his support of non-violent protest.

Peggy Pascoe

Pascoe, a professor in the ethnic studies program, is passionate about promoting diversity on campus and enjoys teaching her students about gender, sexuality and race. During her 12 years at the University, Pascoe has worked to expand diversity among faculty and in her classroom by hiring African American, American Indian, Asian American and Latino faculty. “I am absolutely delighted and was totally surprised to receive this award,” she said.

Milagro Vargas

Vargas, a professor of voice in the School of Music and Dance, has been immersed in diverse cultures throughout her life. The daughter of a Nicaraguan mother and Panamanian father, Vargas traveled the world as a student and singer. Her current work reflects her value of diversity at the University, where she is on the Diversity Advisory Committee. “I am extremely honored to receive an award named after Martin Luther King, Jr.,” she said, “and I’m grateful to my colleagues for choosing me.”

Lois Yoshishige

Yoshishige exemplifies the traits of King by striving for equal rights for everyone across campus. As the president of Classified Employees, she represents staff who are not faculty or management, and ensures all workers are treated fairly and receive proper workers’ rights. When she’s not working on campus at Classified Employees or at her other job as a student loans representative, she is active in the Asian community and is a leader of the Japanese drumming group Eugene Taiko. “It’s a real honor to have won the award,” she said. “I’m kind of astonished people think so highly of me.”

Shawn Fincher

Fincher, director of major gifts for the athletic department, has worked hard to spread diversity during his three years at the University. Fincher led the Blacks on Track Team committee, a group aimed at teaching Olympic Trial volunteers how to properly welcome African American athletes and their families to Eugene. Fincher said he is honored to be nominated and that “it’s my greatest thrill in three years to be recognized by President Frohnmayer.”

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