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January 14, 2011

Two recognized for diversity leadership

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Dr. James Bowman (X ’64) and Lynda Hale received the University’s two Diversity Leadership Awards yesterday at the Quadrangle Club amid South Side dignitaries and White House politicos.

President Robert Zimmer, who helped established the award three years ago, presented the honors leading into the University’s Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration weekend. “They are special awards, but one should think of them as rewards that are reflective of the fundamental parts of what the University is,” he said.

Community leaders included senior advisor to President Barack Obama and Bowman’s daughter Valerie Jarrett, former National Science Foundation Director Walter Massey, Chicago mayoral candidate Carol Moseley Braun, 5th Ward Alderman Leslie Hairston, Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle (A.B. ’69, M.A.T. ’77), and Alvin Ailey Artistic Director Judith Jamison, the keynote speaker for today’s Martin Luther King, Jr. commemoration service.

As the first tenured African American in the Biological Sciences Division, Bowman researched sickle cell anemia and also served as Assistant Dean of Students for Minority Affairs from 1986 to 1990.

His colleague Louis Sullivan, who served as Secretary of Health and Human Services under George H.W. Bush, said Bowman should be honored for being both a great researcher and a great human being.

“During the presidential election in 1972, Nixon needed to reach out to the black community, so he went around the country talking about a National Sickle Cell Program,” said Sullivan. When Nixon won, his staff started asking, “So what exactly is a National Sickle Cell Program?”

When the University received a government grant to research the disease that primarily affects those of African ancestry, they created the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center and Bowman served as its principal investigator.

Hale, the Administrative Director of the University of Chicago Medical Center Primary Care Group, received the Diversity Award for staff, which recognizes leadership in developing a diverse academic community.

“The primary care group serves 40,000 patients annually from the South Side area,” said Vice President for Communications Julie Peterson, who serves as co-chair of the Diversity Leadership Council. “No matter what the challenge, she has a spirit of collegiality.”

Having been connected to the University for almost 50 years and still serving as a professor emeritus in pathology and medicine, Bowman said he was grateful to the University for the opportunities it has provided to him.

“I would like to thank The University—written with a capital ‘T’ because there is no other,” Bowman said.

The Diversity Leadership Awards were first given three years ago after Zimmer created the Diversity Leadership Council with the goal of ensuring University relations reflect its longstanding commitment to diversity.

Past recipients include ambassador and Human Rights Campaign co-founder James Hormel (J.D. ’58) and former Director of the U of C Office of Neighborhood Relations Duel Richardson (A.B. ’67).

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