UWM faculty, staff members honored for work promoting diversity, equity and inclusion

Three UWM faculty and staff members have been honored this fall by statewide organizations for their work promoting diversity, equity and inclusion.

The University of Wisconsin System handed out two of the honors. Wilkistar Otieno, associate professor and chair of industrial and manufacturing engineering, won an Outstanding Women of Color in Education award.

Luke Olson, assistant director of registration services at the School of Continuing Education, received the Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ+ People. Otieno and Olson received their awards in November at a Madison ceremony that recognized winners from each UW System campus.

Belle Rose Ragins, the Sheldon B. Lubar Professor of Management and a distinguished professor, received the Lifetime of Service Award as part of the Wisconsin State Council on Affirmative Action’s annual Diversity Awards. Ragins was honored in October.

More information on the honorees:

Wilkistar Otieno

Wilkistar Otieno with UWM Chancellor Mark Mone, UW System President Jay Rothman and Chia Youyee Vang, UWM vice chancellor Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

Otieno also serves as a special assistant to Chancellor Mark Mone for diversity, equity and inclusion issues related to the 2030 initiative, the comprehensive plan intended to guide the university into the next decade and beyond.

Known for driving positive change, Otieno secured $1 million in National Science Foundation funding for a UWM program that builds diversity in STEM fields. The Preparing Engineers and Computer Scientists program has provided scholarships, mentoring, research experience and internship opportunities to 45 students from underrepresented groups, all of whom faced financial challenges.

As of this fall, 24 students had graduated since the program started in 2017, with the rest on the path to graduation.

Luke Olson

Luke Olson with Mone, Rothman and Vang

At UWM, Olson also serves as co-chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for LGBTQ+ Advocacy. Olson is heavily involved in community work, too. He is vice president of Milwaukee Pride Inc., as well as a festival producer of PrideFest Milwaukee, which is Wisconsin’s largest LGBTQ Pride event.

A UWM graduate, Olson’s connection to the university began as a student in 1996. He has since gone on to work for his alma mater for more than 22 years.

Belle Rose Ragins

Belle Rose Ragins

Ragins is an internationally recognized expert in the fields of mentoring, diversity and positive relationships at work, with an extensive record of contributions and service. She is a founding advisory board member of the Lubar College’s Multicultural Mentoring Program, where she also leads the annual orientation and training for the business professional mentors working with the college’s multicultural and first-generation students.

The Wisconsin State Council recognized Ragins “for dedicating her 24+ year career at UW-Milwaukee to championing DEI initiatives in her research, publications, and as a leading contributor in the development of several campus, academic and community efforts to advance the field of DEI.”

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