Honoring diversity at Portland State

Portland State’s Diversity Action Council awarded mini grants to faculty and staff on Wednesday for projects to advance diversity at the university.

Portland State’s Diversity Action Council awarded mini grants to faculty and staff on Wednesday for projects to advance diversity at the university. Grant awardees were honored at the Multicultural Center, where they each made short presentations about their projects.  

Andrea Johnson of the Diversity Action Council said that she wanted the event to bring together members of PSU faculty and staff who were working with diversity issues so they could meet and share ideas. 

Awards were given for both new and ongoing projects, with grant amounts ranging from $500 to $1,500. Many awards were given to support collaborative projects between organizations and programs.  

PSU education Professor Swapna Mukhopadhyay and Portland Community College mathematics Professor Ann Sitomer were awarded $1,500 for an ongoing math lecture series at PSU and PCC.

The series, titled “Addressing Diversity: Alternative Forms of Knowledge Construction Process in Mathematics and Science,” focuses on the ways in which math and science are understood in different cultures. The series is in its sixth year and has two more lectures on May 26 and June 2.

Mukhopadhyay explained diversity is not only about skin color or gender, and added, “[It’s] also about the way we think.” This diversity of thought, Mukhopadhyay said, is something we need

to celebrate. 

Claudia Meyer spoke about the Bilingual Concentration program in PSU’s Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences. The program was awarded $1,000 to develop an interdepartmental course to train speech-pathology students in assessing bilingual populations and to improve diversity within the profession. 

According to Meyer, only 7 percent of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association is made up of minority groups. Lack of understanding of the processes through which bilingual children learn languages can lead to misdiagnosis of speech and learning disorders, she explained. 

Melanie Dixon, PSU’s African American Student Services coordinator, spoke about recent collaborations between PSU and the Black United Scholarship Fund, a national organization that advocates higher education in African American communities.  

The DAC mini-grant award money helped fund a Black United Fund scholarship workshop at PSU on April 9, 2011. Students from Portland-area high schools came to PSU to learn about financing their college education from Felicia Tripp, a Harvard graduate from Northeast Portland who is certified as a June McBride’s Path to Scholarship facilitator. A second workshop will be held in June.

A grant was also awarded for a proposed collaboration between the Intensive English Language Program and the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences that aims to assist non-native English speakers with pronunciation and to train ESL teachers to tailor their pronunciation instruction to a speaker’s native language. 

The Gaining Access and Networking for Academic Success program, which works with Latino students at PSU, will be using its $1,000 grant for a June 2 event that will help to build networking opportunities, student motivation and community involvement for GANAS and DMSS students.  

At the ceremony, Pauline Jivanjee from the School of Social Work spoke about the department’s use of their $1,000 grant money to bring Dr. Nelly Salgado de Snyder, a researcher and professor at the National Institute of Public Health in Mexico, to Portland for presentations and collaborations about health issues faced by Mexican immigrants in the U.S. 

Theresa Kaimanu of the Public Administration Program spoke about the ways in which her department has developed its attention to diversity over the last 20 years. The program used its $1,000 grant to invite Dr. Ramona Perez, a national authority on diversity program management and training, to Portland for discussions about ways in which the program can better train diverse students to become leaders in the business and nonprofit communities. 

Kaimanu said that diversity should not just be an “add on” to established curriculum, but needs to be “integrated throughout.”

“We’ve got to learn how to dance together,” Kaimanu said about each individual’s diverse background. ?


Recipients of the DAC mini grants:

Swapna Mukhopadhyay


Ann Sitomer


Claudia Meyer


Melanie Dixon


Pauline Jivanjee


Theresa Kaimanu