Mason receives first-ever Regents Diversity Award
"I was surprised."
That was Roseann Mason's first reaction upon hearing she had won a Regents Diversity Award. Roseann, who serves as the University of Wisconsin-Parkside's Director of Community Dialogues in its Center for Community Partnerships, was the first person ever to receive the honor in the individual category. The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents also gave awards in Team and Institutional categories which were handed out March 5 in Madison.
"It's a statewide award; if it had been a local award I would have thought I had a chance [to win]," Roseann said explaining her shock. "I just was very surprised."
Roseann developed Diversity Circles, a group discussion of up to 12 people that focuses on recognizing and countering racism. Launched at UW-Parkside and in Kenosha and Racine in 1999, Diversity Circles were integrated into local high schools in 2003. They have also been used at the Racine Correctional Institution and the Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility and by residents in Fond Du Lac, Manitowoc, Green Bay, Oshkosh, and Appleton.
Currently, Roseann is trying to take Diversity Circles into more communities through the UW System.
"I'm working with UW Extension and the UW Colleges to create Diversity Circles at the institutional level. We wrote a program innovation grant to train facilitators," she said. "Since the fall, I have trained about 20 facilitators all over the state. They are each going to facilitate two Diversity Circles in their community either on poverty, race, sexual orientation, or gender. The idea is not only expand where they are done but to expand the options on the issue they discuss."
Roseann hopes to have trained 30 facilitators within the UW Colleges by the end of the year.
When asked what she would do with the $5,000 that came along with her Regents Diversity Award plaque, Roseann immediately ruled out one option.
"I'm not going to the jewelry store," she said with a laugh.
Roseann hopes to put part of the money into a unique UW-Parkside program that helps the university's faculty make diversity part of their lesson plan.
"The award will allow me to support the UW-Parkside Summer Institute on Infusing Diversity into the Curriculum. The Summer Institute works with faculty which means we're taking the issue to the institutional level," Roseann stated, adding there may be an opportunity to expand the summer institute beyond UW-Parkside.
In addition to thanking this campus' administration for giving her the opportunity and long term support to work on diversity issues, Roseann also thanked the regents for resisting the economic pressure that might otherwise scuttle diversity programs.
"Historically in these kinds of economic times [diversity programs] are the first items to be cut. So, I thank them for their support and ask them to have the courage not to cut these efforts because they're very important if we're going to create a multi-cultural society," she said.
The Regents Diversity Award is not the first honor Roseann and the Diversity Circles program has received. She won the UW-Parkside Diversity Award in 2007 and a host of other honors (see the complete list below).
The award gave Roseann's colleagues the opportunity to sing her praises in the form of congratulatory emails.
"Congratulations! I know you've put so much of yourself into this program and it's nice to see someone get the recognition she deserves," wrote Luellen Breed.
"Thank you, Roseann," wrote Jonathan Shailor, "for your vision, your passion, your hard work, your ongoing commitment--and CONGRATULATIONS on receiving this much-deserved recognition!"
"Congratulations Roseann! We are so proud of you. You ROCK!" enthused Christine Tutlewski.
"Congratulations, Roseann; great to see you finally receive recognition for your many years of devotion to this program," added Carole Vopat.
"CONGRATULATIONS for a well-earned award recognizing outstanding work!" said Michele Gee.
Other Regents Diversity Award recipients included Rebecca Abler an Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences at UW-Manitowoc and Kitrina Carlson an Associate Professor of Biology at UW-Stout who won in the Team Category for their program "Portals of Discovery: Increasing Opportunities in STEM through Collaborative Research." The Institutional/Unit Category award was collected by the master of science in adult education at UW-Platteville for its success in resolving difficulties first-generation college graduates have historically experienced in pursuing graduate education. Program coordinator Patricia Bromley reported that in 2007-08, 40 percent of the 125 enrolled students were black and nine percent were Latino.
Roseann Mason's Treasure Trove:
Regents Diversity Award 2009
University of Wisconsin-Parkside Diversity Award 2007
YWCA Women of Distinction Award 2005
State of Wisconsin Office of State Employment Relations Program Merit Award 2003
Educational Institution Award from Sustainable Racine 2002
UW-Parkside Martin Luther King Jr., Community Service Award 2002
University of Wisconsin-Extension Wisconsin Idea Award 2001
Nominated for Academic Staff Distinguished Service Award 2000-2001
Department of Police Public Service Award from Racine Police Department 2000Friend of Correctional Education Award from Correctional Education