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University of Michigan School of Information


Eglash honored with diversity service award

Tuesday, 04/30/2019

Ron Eglash, professor of information and of art and design, has received a 2019 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Award from the Office of the Provost. The award recognizes faculty members whose service contributes to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse University of Michigan community.

Eglash, who shares a joint appointment with the Penny Stamps School of Art and Design, is committed to increasing cultural diversity and equity.

His primary academic work, “African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design,” was “a new milestone in opposing racist portraits and ‘primitive’ stereotypes,” wrote Audrey Bennett, professor of art and design.

Eglash’s work has been highlighted in both academic and public spheres, as his TED talk gained more than 1.5 million views and his work was covered in media outlets like The New York Times and The Economist.

Devoting much of his career to K-12 diversity outreach, Eglash helped develop a suite of award-winning web applets called “Culturally Situated Design Tools,” which are web-based software applications that allow students to create simulations of cultural arts using mathematical principles. These tools demonstrated statistically significant improvement in science, technology, engineering and math scores for African-American, Latino and Native American students, as well as students in Africa, Bennett wrote.

Eglash served as chair of the Coalition to Diversify Computing in 2009 and is a founding member of the Center for Minorities and Persons with Disability in Information Technology. When he worked at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, he used his external grants to recruit and sustain underrepresented graduate students in science and technology studies, as well as students in computer science.

At U-M, his work with “Culturally Situated Design Tools” includes a collaboration with Michigan State University in teacher professional development, community outreach with libraries and community agriculture in Ypsilanti, and workshops with American Indian Health and Family Services in Detroit.

Also receiving the award this year:

  • Valeria Bertacco, College of Engineering
  • Marita Inglehart, School of Dentistry and LSA (Lifetime Achievement Award)
  • Petra Kuppers, LSA, Stamps School and School of Music, Theatre & Dance
  • Chinedum Okwudire, College of Engineering
  • J. Frank Yates, LSA and Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Established in 1996, the Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards are given in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work.

“Faculty at the University of Michigan are instrumental to the success of cultivating a diverse, equitable and inclusive campus,” says Robert Sellers, vice provost for equity and inclusion, and chief diversity officer.” “Their contributions, both in and out of the classroom serve as a catalyst that drives who we are, and what we strive to become as a University.”

The awards will be presented during a ceremony on May 14, with each honoree receiving a $5,000 stipend.


- UMSI News Service