Globally pre-eminent institutions derive strength from their diversity, attracting academics, researchers, students and professional staff from all corners of the globe and from all different backgrounds and outlooks. We are proud of our increasingly diverse community, and of the work that people put into creating an environment where so many of us can flourish. The Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Awards is Oxford’s opportunity to celebrate and learn from inspiring work that is happening throughout the University and colleges.
The University is deeply committed to promoting equality and diversity in the workplace, and to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all members of our community. These goals are integrated into the University’s Strategic Plan and we engage actively with Athena SWAN, the Race Equality Charter and the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, regularly assessing our progress and identifying areas for action. I have been delighted to learn more about the terrific work of those nominated in the inaugural awards.
Professor Louise Richardson
Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Advocate for Equality and Diversity
It gives me great pride to oversee the inauguration of the biennial Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Awards at Oxford. I, together with all those involved, were really encouraged by the number of nominations we received and inspired by the breadth and quality of work being undertaken. Nominations came from all parts of the University, from a range of colleges, from students and staff at all levels, and encompassed work across all areas of equality and diversity. The judging panel had an extremely difficult job narrowing down the nominations to those shortlisted.
Dr Rebecca Surender
Shortlisted: Individual Champion or Role Model
Clara Barker (Winner - Staff category)
An openly trans woman, Clara plays an active role in promoting LGBT+ and trans issues across the University and beyond. She is vice chair of the University’s LGBT+ Advisory Group, has developed and delivered awareness raising sessions, and acts as a point of contact for anyone who wants to talk about LGBT+ and trans issues. She has provided input into the University’s revised transgender guidance, and worked closely with the team which developed the Out in Oxford museums trail. Clara acts a role model for local LGBT+ youth, supports their parents, and works with schools to tackle bullying. Her work has been recognised through several national awards.
By speaking openly about his experience of living with a mental health condition while studying and working at the University, Dan has been a powerful role model for others and has shown students that careers in academia are possible for people with mental health conditions. He has increased awareness of mental health through speaking at events including the 2017 Disability Lecture, and developed a successful mental health awareness training session, ‘Looking Behind the Label’, with Verity Westgate. In 2017, Dan won the Humanities Innovation Challenge for Mycelium, a creative thinking training tool and game that supports people who, for mental health reasons, are under-employed in the workplace.
Varaidzo (Vee) arrived at Lady Margaret Hall as a Foundation Year student, and is now completing her undergraduate degree. She is best known for her YouTube channel, which includes videos on ‘A day in the life of a black student’ and ‘How I got into Oxford twice and made history’, which have been viewed thousands of times and are praised for their “sensitivity, honesty and good humour”. She has appeared in national media to talk about her work and the work of LMH to support students from diverse backgrounds. She is an ambassador for the Social Mobility Foundation, and champions widening access to higher education.
Praised as a “charismatic, dynamic thinker”, Josh is transforming the conversation around diversity at college and institutional level. He is the founder of the Oxford Culture Hub, which draws together, mobilises and empowers BME groups. The Hub’s aim is to strengthen the voice of cultural minorities in Oxford, and members include groups from different cultures and faiths from across the city and University. As Vice President of the Oxford African and Caribbean Society, Josh oversees initiatives including the Annual Access Conference and a shadowing day for 40 prospective students. He has discussed diversity issues at Oxford in the national media.
Penny is an active champion for students with families, and for LGBT+ and indigenous rights. As a member of Green Templeton College and through reaching out to other colleges, Penny has campaigned to ensure that students with families, particularly those with older children, feel welcome and supported, and that their needs are considered and accommodated in college and university life. She works with faith groups, international students, and LGBT+ groups: running events, acting as a visible champion in the community, and supporting underrepresented groups to deliver change. Penny is Secretary of the Oxford Children's Rights Network and a founding member of the Oxford Queer Studies Network.
Marie “brings people, institutions and ideas together”. She has raised the profile of disability at the University, campaigning to include it on reading lists and in the curriculum. This led to the creation of an annual disability law moot and essay prize, as well as a master’s scholarship at Wadham for students with disabilities. In February 2018, she hosted the inaugural Law and Disability Policy Conference, which attracted a diverse line up of national and international academics. She appears in the University’s Diversifying Portraiture series, and hopes that her own portrait will give confidence to young disabled people in their own ambitions and fulfilling their potential.
Throughout her highly distinguished career, Frances has led initiatives to support and champion women in mathematics. Her leadership was central to the Mathematical Institute’s Athena SWAN Bronze application in 2013 and subsequent Silver award in 2016. She successfully bid for Oxford to host the prestigious Women in Mathematics event in 2015, on its 150th anniversary, and extended it to involve undergraduates and schoolgirls for the first time. She was instrumental in establishing a nursery in her college, Balliol. As the holder of many high profile positions and titles, she inspires women in the discipline at the University and in the wider academy.
Thaís Roque (Winner - Student category)
Thaís has been a tireless and dedicated champion for refugee students in the University, driven by the belief that we are all enriched when we include diverse voices in scholarship and academia. She launched and led the Oxford Students Refugee Campaign, which has won pledges of more than £240,000 for scholarships to students whose studies have been disrupted because of war or persecution. Thaís and her campaign address the whole student journey, supporting the often missed elements of at-risk student need, such as application fees and flights to the UK. She has inspired and engaged staff, students and alumni to support students most at need, at an exceptionally vulnerable time.
From his first term at St Benet’s Hall, Zakir has promoted diversity of faith and of socio-economic background. He campaigned against the axing of ‘community languages’, such as Bengali and Turkish, at A-level arguing that this reduces diversity in Higher Education. He served as St Benet’s first BME JCR representative, and on the Committee of the Oxford University Islamic Society, where he launched the Society’s lecture series on Muslims and the Arts. Zakir plays a key role in promoting and realising the Society’s strong commitment to engagement and understanding between Muslim students and staff, and students and staff of all faiths and none.
While training for her first open water competitive swim, Verity discovered that regular exercise helped keep her mental health condition under control. She has since become an advocate for a greater understanding of mental health at the University and in the wider community. When talking about mental ill health during the powerful sessions she delivers with Dan Holloway, she inspires people by drawing on her personal experience of mental ill health and suggests successful tactics to manage it. She participates in the Disability Advisory Group and the Disabled Staff Network, has raised nearly £21,000 for Mind to date, and still swims regularly.
Shortlisted - Projects and Programmes
Looking behind the label
The Univ Opportunity Programme (Winner - Innovation in Promoting Diversity in the Student Body)
The Oxford Africa and Caribbean Society (ACS) (Winner - Promoting Diversity through Public and Community Engagement)
Resources for school projects (Winner - Promoting Diversity in Learning and Teaching)
Find out more and get involved
The Equality and Diversity Unit suggest that to achieve lasting change, we need everyone to get involved. Here are some of the ways in which you can play a part:
- Completing the University’s online E&D training course
- Joining an equality network or signing up to our regular newsletters of events, news and resources on gender and race equality
- Applying to the Diversity Fund for funding to support innovative projects that promote equality and diversity
- Learning about what you can do to integrate equality and diversity into different areas of your work
- Finding out about Athena SWAN in your department and getting involved in the self-assessment and implementation process