University of Wisconsin-River Falls

News Source

Oct. 30, 2003

State Agencies & UW Campuses Cited for Diversity Achievements

Three state agencies and two University of Wisconsin system campuses were singled out for praise at a State Capitol ceremony today for their innovative efforts to promote workplace diversity. Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton used the occasion to underscore the value of a diverse workplace and to congratulate the recipients.

"Creating a diverse workforce pays dividends to both the individual workplaces involved and to the state as a whole. I encourage other employers, in both the private and public sectors, to learn from their experience," Lieutenant Governor Lawton said as she presented the 2003 Annual Diversity Awards.

Office of State Employment Relations (OSER) Director Karen Timberlake agreed. "In addition to commending these agencies and campuses for their achievements, we hope that today's awards will inspire others to expand their diversity efforts. These organizations help illuminate some of the practical ways this goal can be achieved," Timberlake explained.

In a written statement, Governor Jim Doyle conveyed his congratulations to the campuses and agencies that received recognition, observing that "our employees are state government's greatest asset, and by expanding the diversity of our workforce we gain new strength and a broader vision that enables state government to better serve the people of Wisconsin."

The awards, sponsored by OSER and the State Council on Affirmative Action, were presented today in the Senate Parlor. The agencies and campuses recognized are:

Wisconsin Department of Transportation: WisDOT was selected for its innovative scholarship and loan repayment incentive grant program that targets improving the representation of minorities and women in underutilized job groups. DOT's Bureau of Field Services demonstrated successful outreach efforts to recruit Hispanic/Latino, Asians and bilingual persons to improve bilingual services at the Division of Motor Vehicles. The results of the hiring activities for the Transportation Customer Representative positions were extraordinary: of the 24 new hires, over 50% were minorities, 83% were women, and 38% were bilingual. DOT's mentoring program, GROW (Goals, Resources, Opportunities and Wisdom), deserves special acknowledgement as well.

Wisconsin State Public Defender's Office: The SPD has developed an outstanding record of attracting and retaining racial/ethnic minorities and women. The council applauded SPD's conscientious outreach efforts, which were particularly arduous due to the widespread geographical area of its branch offices and recruitment challenges posed by professions such as attorney and management positions. Its achievement exemplifies the fulfillment of the spirit and intent of the diversity award criteria.

The University of Wisconsin Š River Falls: The campus was awarded the 2003 Educational Diversity Award after successfully demonstrating comprehensive outreach programs, including various multi-cultural pre-college programs. These include its Upward Bound program and collaboration with Vincent High School in Milwaukee to offer a summer environmental science program targeting minority student populations. In addition, UW-River Falls translated school admissions materials into Spanish, Hmong, Somali, Oromo, Amarec and Vietnamese and offers translation services on the campus.

The University of Wisconsin-Parkside: This campus received the Program Merit Award for its new Diversity Circles on Dismantling Racism Program. That initiative has already demonstrated tremendous impact on the communities involved. Approximately 1,500 local residents from Racine and Kenosha counties, and more than 2,100 students from local high schools participated in the program. In addition, Diversity Circles were expanded to two local correctional facilities: Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant and Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility in Racine. The council commended the diversity practices because of the outreach to minorities and women, and the opportunity for student participants to obtain a realistic reference to real world issues while also developing their ability to appreciate diversity.

Public Service Commission: The PSC received the OSER DirectorÕs Honorable Mention Award. The agency was recognized for implementing a variety of effective, yet low-cost diversity events. Events such as a "Diversity Week" celebration, a speaker series on diversity topics, and cultural and ethnic displays helped build an inclusive environment at the workplace.

The State Council on Affirmative Action's prestigious Diversity Award recognizes achievement in all phases of equal employment opportunity/affirmative action programs, disability services, retention and upward mobility. The Educational Diversity Award is a new category to recognize the efforts and achievements of state institutions of higher learning in preparing minorities, women, and persons with disabilities for employment in the Wisconsin state. The Program Merit Award recognizes special efforts to improve the work environment and promote employment opportunities for minorities, women and persons with disabilities. The OSER Director's Honorable Mention Award recognizes meritorious human resource practices in attracting and retaining minority and women employees.

The State Council on Affirmative Action has an overall purpose of fostering measurable progress toward an equitable and diverse state workforce and advising the Director of the Office of State Employment Relations.

The council consists of twelve public members, the majority of whom are minorities, women and persons with disabilities. They are appointed for three-year terms by the senate president and minority leader, the assembly speaker and assembly minority leader, and the governor.

Council members include: Hafeezah Ahmad, Milwaukee; Amos C. Anderson, Madison; Crystal A. Berg, Hartford; Stephen Braunginn, Madison; Jack A. Melvin, Milwaukee; Lauri A. Millot, Wausau; Jeffery R. Muse, Ashland; Roger L. Pulliam, Whitewater; Sandra Ryan, Sun Prairie; David Schaefer, Madison; Roland Wetley, Milwaukee; and Tracy Han, Madison.


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