Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award

photo of Dr. Cornelius Hopper

The Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award is designed to inspire people in our community to engage in activities that will make Samuel Merritt University a place where all people will come and learn. The award is named for and honors Dr. Cornelius Hopper, who joined the SMU Board in 1997 and served as its chair from 2000 to 2011. Dr. Hopper has been dedicated to addressing racial disparities in the nation’s healthcare system since 1971.

Submission Deadline Date:

 December 7, 2018

Recipient Announcement:

 During the Black History Month  Celebration
 February 26, 2019 

Send Nomination Letter to:


Subject Line:

 Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award

Who is eligible?

  • All faculty: includes adjunct faculty
  • All staff: includes part time staff
  • All students

 Nominee Categories

  • Individual – Any faculty, staff, student, or an individual affiliated with the University such as an alumna, alumnus, donor or retired employee.
  • Team – Any team or group of University members working collaboratively on a program or initiative dedicated to the achievement of SMU diversity goals; teams are not limited to formal organizational units.

Nomination Letter Components (1-2 pages)

  • Nominee name(s), title(s), and academic program(s) or department(s)
  • Reference one or more selection criteria (see below)
  • Project description: a statement describing the exemplary program, initiative, project, or research that advances the University’s committment to diversity and inclusion.

Recipient Selection Process

  1. The selection will evaluate nominations based on the following characteristics:
  • ​Sustainable Impact resulting in institutional change for achieving diversity.
  • Collaboration with other units, departments, programs, or communities beyond the University.
  • Accountability through assessment that establishes measurable outcomes or improvement.
  • Intersections across multiple dimensions of diversity (**intersectionality)
  1. ​The sub-committee will present recommendations to the President
  2. Recipient(s) are chosen by the President
  3. Recipient(s) are announced during the Black History Month Celebration

Selection Criteria
The selection of the recipient(s) will reflect the University's committment to diversity and inlcusion. This areas below serves as a guide in identifying exemplary research, programs, and initiatives. Nominated projects and programs must advance one or more of the following selection criteria:

  • LEADERSHIP: Leadership in the development and implementation of programs with measurable outcomes for stimulating and sustaining a diverse and inclusive University
  • CAMPUS CLIMATE: Demonstrated efforts that foster an inclusive and supportive campus and/or classroom climate that encourage culturally competent and respectful interactions across diverse groups.
  • RECRUITMENT OF UNDERREPRESENTED STUDENTS AND FACULTY: Development of innovative methods/strategies around advising, mentoring, recruitment and retention of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff with measurable outcomes.
  • TEACHING AND LEARNING: Research, teaching, and learning grounded in theories, concepts, methodologies, and/or practices that:
    o    Enhance diversity, advance equity and social justice and/or
    o    Contribute to an understanding of cultural differences through infusing the curriculum, co-curriculum with health disparities education and a focus on cultural competency.
  • ALL AREAS: Designed, implemented and/or participated in community service programs or initiatives that advance diversity across or beyond the university community such as outreach, partnerships, clinical settings, and service learning with the goals to deepen cultural competency and provide health disparities education.

Award and Recognition

  • An individual awardee will receive $1,000
  • A team will receive $2,000
  • Each awardee(s) will have their name(s) inscribed on a plaque that will be prominently displayed in the Office of the President.
  • Recipients are announced and presented during the Black History Month Celebration. 

Past Award Recipients
2014| Pride Committee for their work to build a supportive, inclusive, and engaged LGBTQI2S community within SMU.
2015| Che Abram for her 12 years of leadership supporting and facilitating diversity initiatives including recruiting and retaining students of color in SMU programs.  
2016| Margrette Peterson, for her commitment, leadership, and dedication to diversity initiatives inclusivie of her work planning, coordinating, and facilitating SMU's annual Black History Month Celebration. 
2017| Students Carmen Craven (BRIDGE mentorship program), Mohammad Deen (Humanitarian work), Nga Dwork (BRIDGE mentorship program), and Shante Myers (BRIDGE mentorship program)
2018| Cynthia Stacy, RN, MSN for her service and committment to student academic success and aiding their ability to thrive while in one of SMU's nursing programs. 


**Intersectionality addresses an individual’s multiple identities and modalities of social relationships and seeks to understand how various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality and inequity.


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