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Susan Williams
University Communications

Last modified: Thursday, April 10, 2008

Multicultural understanding awards given at IU Bloomington

April 10, 2008

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana University Commission on Multicultural Understanding (COMU) will honor five individuals and one program April 17 (Thursday) at the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center with its 2007-08 COMU Awards. This event is open to the public, with a reception beginning at 4:30 p.m. followed by the award presentations at 5 p.m.

The COMU awards, created in 1994, are given in recognition of those actively supporting, participating in or encouraging the exploration of cultural diversity in and around the Indiana University Bloomington campus. The awards are given in the categories of undergraduate student, graduate student, staff member, faculty member, community member and program.

This year's COMU award recipients are:

Undergraduate student -- Nicholas Mitchaner

Nicholas Mitchaner is a senior with a double major in chemistry and Germanic studies. He has been active in a variety of cultural diversity activities, showing enthusiasm through his roles within the Office of Orientation, as a resident assistant in Wright Quad, and through his leadership roles with the National Day of Silence Student Group.

Graduate student -- Stacy Konkiel

Stacy Konkiel is a second-year graduate student completing a dual master's degree in library science and information science. During her time at Indiana University Bloomington, Stacy has served as an advocate for diversity on campus in numerous ways, including her involvement with the Commission on Personal Safety in the Office for Women's Affairs; as the co-chair of Keshet, a social organization for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Jews and Jewishly-identified students; and as a member of the COMU Executive Council.

Staff member -- Sharlene Toney

Sharlene Toney is a University Division academic adviser in the Teter Academic Support Center. Sharlene has shown extraordinary leadership as the staff co-convener of the COMU Teachable Moments committee, particularly evidenced through the committee's successful "Honoring Diversity" campaign and by bringing Jeff Sheng's "Fearless" photography exhibit to campus. In addition, Sharlene teaches diversity classes for the School of Social Work, emphasizing her dedication to helping others understand and appreciate the value of diversity and multiculturalism.

Faculty member -- J. Peter Burkholder

J. Peter Burkholder is a Distinguished Professor of Musicology in the Jacobs School of Music. His involvement in gay and lesbian organizations and willingness to speak out against legislation (SJR-7) aimed at limiting gay and lesbian individual rights in Indiana are only a few of the many ways he has inspired both his students and colleagues. His voice as an educator, a musician and an advocate for equal rights has touched many lives over the years.

Community member -- Beverly Calender-Anderson

Beverly Calender-Anderson is the Director of the City of Bloomington's Safe and Civil City office. For many years, Beverly has reached out to COMU as a member of the executive council to find collaborative campus and community joint projects. This includes her involvement with the Bloomington Multicultural Festival, serving on several Martin Luther King Jr. Day committees, and co-hosting this year's Campus-Community Partnership Luncheon. Beverly has been a consistent and powerful voice for multicultural understanding in the community, and has worked on numerous programs that have a direct benefit to the community and campus.

Program Award -- First Fridays, Sponsored by the GLBTSSS Office

First Fridays provides a social opportunity for those in the GLBT and ally network to gather informally at a local eatery, the Bloomington Bagel Company on Dunn Street, on the first Friday of every month. Dozens of undergraduate and graduate students, staff and friends have participated in this monthly gathering to enjoy free food and drinks, to interact and to share information about upcoming events and activities. COMU would like to recognize the current host of First Fridays Ryne Shadday, the GLBT student support staff, and all of First Fridays' co-sponsors for making this program a success.

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 the Indiana University Bloomington campus. With education at the core of the commission's efforts, students, staff, and faculty are all responsible for contributing to this awareness and understanding. COMU provides a vehicle for members of the campus community to use in promoting greater communication amongst all those on campus, regardless of race, age, religion, ability, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, and socio-economic status. Through increased communication and deliberate educational efforts that address issues of oppression, the commission can enhance the campus climate and serve as an exemplary role model for society.

For more information about the COMU Awards ceremony and other COMU events, please contact