Faculty members receive Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards

May 19, 2022  //  FOUND IN: Our Employees

Seven faculty members have received 2022 Harold R. Johnson Diversity Service Awards, and another was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award, for their contributions to the development of a culturally and ethnically diverse U-M community.

Established in 1996, the annual award is given by the Office of the Provost in honor of Harold Johnson, dean emeritus of the School of Social Work.

This year’s recipients are:

  • Jonathan Ford Finks, Medical School.
  • Gary Freed, Medical School.
  • Odest Chadwicke Jenkins, College of Engineering.
  • Ramaswami Mahalingam, LSA.
  • Damani James Partridge, LSA.
  • Charles Ransom, University Library.
  • Sara Soderstrom, LSA, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, School for Environment and Sustainability.

In addition, Henry Meares of the School of Education received a Lifetime Achievement Award.

The awards were presented during a ceremony May 10, with each honoree receiving a $5,000 stipend.

More about the two medical school winners:

Jonathan Ford Finks

Finks, associate professor of surgery in the medical school, began at U-M in 2005 as a clinical assistant professor of surgery with a focus on minimally invasive and bariatric surgery. He has taken on several leadership roles within the school, including as a facilitator for students during their surgery clerkship and currently as the associate clerkship director.

Through these roles, Finks observed there was very little racial and ethnic diversity among the medical student body and, additionally, there were almost no students from Detroit despite its proximity to Ann Arbor. Finks realized this problem stemmed in part from students’ limited exposure and mentorship into medicine and STEM fields before college.

In 2012, with startup funding from the Department of Surgery, Finks and a small group of medical students established Doctors of Tomorrow, a pipeline program and partnership between the medical school and Cass Technical High School. Each year, approximately 30 ninth-grade students participate in the yearlong program.

Finks has been laser-focused on promoting diversity, equity and inclusion within the medical school. His work has had a major impact, affecting the lives of hundreds of underserved high school students in Detroit and many more medical students at U-M. His work has inspired similar efforts here and across the country.

Gary Freed

Freed, the Percy and Mary Murphy professor of pediatrics in the medical school and professor of health management and policy in the School of Public Health, has more than 25 years of experience in children’s health services research, with a central commitment to action for diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.

Working with the chairs of the Department of Pediatrics, Freed developed a first-in-the-nation visiting resident elective for students underrepresented in medicine that provided an all-expenses-paid month to see if the field was a fit for them.

For the past six years, he has been associate chair for DEI in the Department of Pediatrics, overhauling and developing one of the premier programs in the nation. Initially he developed the DEI Action Committee that resulted in new and innovative programming across faculty, staff and trainees. These efforts included support for research into inequity and disparities, book clubs, TED talk viewings and discussions, peer-mentorship groups, art projects and other programs to support interaction and inclusion within the department.

His national DEI activities include serving on the Committee for Diversity and Inclusion of the American Pediatric Society, and he is frequently called upon to speak on DEI issues at national pediatric meetings and as a visiting professor.


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