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.
Full list of the nominations for the Champion or Role Model category
We received a remarkable range of nominations in the Champion or Role Model category, and had a difficult task drawing up the final short-list. Here are the other people who were nominated, and what those nominating said about them…
Dr Alpa Parmar, Departmental Lecturer, Centre for Criminology, Faculty of Law
‘Alpa has been an excellent role model and example of diversity in academia. Her work on race, gender and intersectionality in criminology has been incredibly enlightening and inspiring.’
Dr Anne Makena, Programme Coordinator, Africa-Oxford Initiative, Centre for Tropical Medicine and Global Health
‘Anne effortlessly bridges the student-staff divide by being a steady voice of encouragement, and offering material and moral support to our members.’
Aondoyima Ioratim-Uba, Physics undergraduate, Mansfield College
‘During our Admissions period he has been our head runner, looking after our candidates, and at our Open Days he welcomes prospective candidates.’
Benjamin Tan, History and Politics undergraduate, Harris Manchester College
‘Ben’s whole demeanour is a model of inclusivity; and this modelling of intelligent, non-aggressive, but also non-compromising commitment to E&D has been important in college.’
Beth Asbury, Administrative Assistant for Public Engagement, Ashmolean Museum
‘Beth has worked tirelessly to promote Out in Oxford to LGBTQ communities as well as other allies and museum visitors.’
Dr Catherine Walter, Associate Dean, Linacre College
‘She has passion and determination to promote equality and diversity both within the College and across the University and has become a celebrated champion of disability and gender rights.’
Dr Chandra Ramanujan, Licensing & Ventures Manager, Oxford Innovation
‘Organised a successful ‘Power in Diversity’ meeting and dinner for the Oxford Innovation Society in September 2016.’
Professor Charlotte Deane, Head of Department, Department of Statistics and St Anne’s College
‘She serves as a role model to female students, both graduate and undergraduates, through her friendly demeanour, firm vision and sense of humour. She is also a role model for staff. The admin team all much appreciate the time she spends with each of them, despite her gruelling schedule.’
Charlotte Smith, Athena SWAN Co-ordinator, Radcliffe Department of Medicine
‘She has a wealth of experience in Athena SWAN-related matters which has enabled her to “hit the ground running”, and she has made excellent progress on a number of new initiatives, whilst at the same time progressing the Athena SWAN agenda.’
Clive Shepherd, Apprenticeship Manager, Personnel Services
‘Clive has taken the lead on a project to promote awareness across the University’s recruiting managers of the issues and barriers of reaching hard to reach groups such as BAME and disadvantaged groups in the Oxford area.’
Daisy Hung, Equality and Diversity Facilitator, MPLS Division
‘Daisy is active in promoting gender equality on social media and is a regular attendee at the informal Athena SWAN facilitators group, helping share best practice across the University.’
Professor David Macdonald, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Unit, Department of Zoology and Lady Margaret Hall
‘David Macdonald’s unique programme continues to have a lasting and widening legacy, not only for the preservation of biodiversity globally, but also in strengthening diversity and equality across the University.’
Debbie Wyatt, Human Resources Assistant, Department of Engineering Science
‘Debbie is a strong ally and promoter of equality for all, and regularly actively promotes events within the Department of Engineering Science.’
Professor Elspeth Garman, Department of Biochemistry and Brasenose College
‘Prof Garman has been a beacon for women in science and at Brasenose. She has been at the heart of Brasenose’s diversifying portraiture and has ensured that all graduate dinners are addressed by women scientists (save for one female lawyer).’
Hannah Boschen, Professional Development Advisor, Oxford Learning Institute
‘She is passionate and highly credible when talking about diversity and inclusion and she is an exemplar as a role-model living the values on a day-to-day basis both within the team and around the wider University.’
Helen Charlesworth, Head of Communications, Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach
‘Helen is a proud LGBT+ Role Model… I know that Helen has supported a number of individuals who have either felt harassed due to their sexual orientation or have not felt able to be out in the workplace. She has shown great patience and compassion in listening to their concerns and helping where possible.’
Dr Jason Nurse, Research Fellow, Department of Computer Science
‘Senior researcher Jason Nurse has been an untiring role model supporting outreach, schools liaison, public engagement and PR activities within the department.’
Dr Jonathan Healey, Associate Professor, Faculty of History and Kellogg College
‘In September 2017, Dr Jonathan Healey, with the support of St Anne’s College, organised a group of state primary school students from the shadow of the Grenfell site to come and spend the day in Oxford… He is a true champion for equality of access and of diversity and is a credit to the institution.’
Professor Kalypso Nicolaidis, Director of the Centre for International Studies, Department of Politics & International Relations and St Antony’s College
‘Kalypso Nicolaidis pioneered the founding of the Working Group on Oxford University and Colonialism in the Spring of 2016. Under Kalypso’s leadership, the group has discussed the means of dealing with historical legacies in an open, scholarly and creative way, has acknowledged and honoured past initiatives undertaken at the University by activist groups.’
Kathy Harvey, Associate Dean, MBA and Executive Degrees and Caroline Williams, Director, Open Programmes (Executive Education), Saïd Business School
‘Kathy and Caroline have been pro-actively implementing complementary strategies, in their respective areas of responsibility, to improve the gender balance within Saïd Business School and its student and research community, as well as actively promoting and supporting women’s inclusion and empowerment worldwide.’
Laura Jones, HR Manager, Department of Computer Science
‘She has been inspirational in her approach and drive… I am deeply impressed with her campaigns showing that it’s OK to be different and that we promote and support diversity. There has been extensive interest across the division in the work she has been doing and she is keen that these initiatives are replicated where possible.’
Professor Liz Fisher, Faculty of Law and Corpus Christi College
‘Liz’s collaborative working style, passion and leadership laid the foundations for the Faculty to ensure that diversity and inclusion are placed centre stage.’
Luke Jackson-Ross, Admissions & Outreach Officer, St Hugh’s College
‘Luke uses his position and his day to day experience as means to quietly further diversity and the appreciation of diversity in the College and the University; that he also does this in representing the University to prospective students is to be applauded.’
Professor Lyndal Roper, Regius Professor of History, Faculty of History and Oriel College
‘She is both a first-rate role model for female academics in the Humanities, and also a consistent, fearless champion of gender equality in the History Faculty.’
Martha Buckley, Project Support Co-ordinator, Humanities Division
‘As a wheelchair user herself she has provided information [to the University’s Access Guide] about parking, entrances, lifts, accessible toilets, standard toilets, hearing support system, opening hours and inaccessible areas across the University.’
Professor Martyn Harry, Faculty of Music
‘Martyn has been a constant support to those running the Sutton Trust programme and other outreach programmes. His work as a composer and lecturer has also reached out to local communities, helping those with dementia and other life-limiting conditions.’
Matthew Pierri, MSc student, Oxford Internet Institute and Lincoln College
‘In 2017 he launched the Oxford Accessibility Project (OAP). With teams of student volunteers from each college and hall, OAP is currently collating measurement and photographic data collected in 2017 to build this invaluable resource.’
Monique Ewen, Gender and Diversity Specialist, Department of Psychiatry
‘Monique is extremely deserving of this award. She has a wealth of knowledge and experience of gender equality issues and has used this experience to have a hugely positive impact on the gender equality work of the University over the past year.’
Noah MacNeill, Music undergraduate, St Anne’s College
‘Noah is a blind second year student at St Anne’s studying music… The College is nominating him for this award because of the selfless work he has done on behalf of others and for being an outstanding and popular role model to everyone in the College community.’
Riya Rana, English undergraduate, Mansfield College
‘Last year, Riya co-founded a BAME Drama Society after noticing that the drama scene in Oxford had the potential to be an intimidating and non-inclusive space. Running socials, BAME-tailored audition workshops, and encouraging productions to pursue inclusive casting, Riya has worked to open up this area of extra-curricular Oxford for students who may have found it inaccessible before.’
Dr Sarah De Val, University Research Lecturer, Department of Physiology, Anatomy and Genetics and Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research
‘Sarah is an inspirational role model and advocate for all women in science. The positive impact this has had on the working environment of less senior female scientists within the institute cannot be overestimated.’
Professor Senia Paseta, Professor of Modern History, Faculty of History and St Hugh’s College
‘She has shown initiative and commitment as a teacher, scholar and academic leader as well as in outreach and impact, and has driven the University’s programme of suffrage centenary events in particular.’
Tim Currie, Staff Immigration Officer, Personnel Services
‘Tim has never lost sight of the people behind the visa system and ensures that however complicated and expensive it has become, the effects of legal discrimination are minimized.’
Dr Tristram Wyatt, Senior Research Associate, Department of Zoology and Emeritus Fellow of Kellogg College
‘Tristram has used his seniority to push for LGBT equality and recognition within the University of Oxford and the local community.’
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