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Last modified: Wednesday, April 11, 2007

IU Commission on Multicultural Understanding bestows COMU awards

April 11, 2007

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Commission on Multicultural Understanding recently honored five individuals and one program with its 2006-07 COMU awards. The awards, created in 1994, are given in recognition of individuals or groups actively supporting, participating in or encouraging the exploration of cultural diversity in and around the Indiana University Bloomington campus.

A reception in honor of this year's award recipients will be held, Monday (April 16), 4:30 p.m., at the Helen G. Simon Hillel Center, 730 E. Third Street, Bloomington.

This year's COMU award recipients -- given in the categories of undergraduate student, graduate student, staff member, faculty member, community member and program -- are as follows.

Undergraduate Student -- Matthew J. Brunner

Matt Brunner has championed gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender issues on the Bloomington campus for most of his undergraduate career. He organized the Hoosier Rights Campaign, a group of students committed to education on GLBT issues and advocacy for GLBT individuals. He has hosted dozens of educational forums, including a successful panel on "Being Gay and Greek," and he has organized rallies and demonstrations at the state house to protest discriminatory legislation.

Graduate Student -- Rebecca Riall

Rebecca Riall is working towards a Ph.D. in anthropology and a J.D. in law, focusing on Native American issues and human rights. She helped to create the Native American Graduate Student Association (NAGSA) and also the First Nations Educational and Cultural Center.

Faculty Award -- Carolyn Wiethoff, Kelley School of Business

Carolyn Wiethoff is a dedicated faculty member in the Kelley School of Business and a strong ally for the GLBT community. She has given a number of presentations about Indiana Equality (a statewide organization that advocates for the rights of GLBT individuals) and is a member of the GLBT Office Advisory Board.

Staff Award -- Janice Wiggins, director, Groups Program

For many years, Janice Wiggins has shown her dedication to helping all students succeed at IU. In her former administrative role in the Career Development Center, and currently as director of the Groups Program, she has provided leadership for students, faculty and staff in recognizing the value of diversity in educational, workplace and community settings.

Community Member -- Sue Aquila, owner, Bloomington Bagel Company

For the past ten years Sue Aquila enhanced community life and celebrated diversity while feeding the town's best bagels to students, staff, faculty members and people from the community at large. Owner of the Bloomington Bagel Company, Sue supports a variety of worthy causes in the city, including the Community Kitchen and the Shalom Center. She is a strong supporter of women athletes in the community and last semester worked in conjunction with the GLBT Office to provide the "First Fridays" program.

Program Award -- Men of Color Leadership Conference

The Men of Color Leadership Conference brought together nearly 200 men of color (African American, Asian American, Latino and Native American) in a supportive atmosphere to empower them with the skills and knowledge needed to foster academic success, improve personal achievement, establish a support network, and support the goal of graduation. Established in 2003, attendance at the conference has grown from 60 individuals to nearly 200, with participation from campuses across the country.

About the Indiana University Commission on Multicultural Understanding -- COMU has the general purpose of gathering information and encouraging programs and activities that will increase awareness and understanding of the factors which lead to racism and other forms of oppression in society and on our campus. With education at the core of the commission's efforts, students, staff and faculty all are responsible for contributing to this awareness and understanding.

COMU provides a vehicle for members of the campus community to use in promoting greater communication among all persons on campus, regardless of race, age, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation and socio-economic status. Through increased communication and deliberate educational efforts that address issues of oppression, the commission can enhance the campus climate and in so doing serve as an exemplary role model for society.

For more information please contact or call 855-4463.