BCC Hosts the 4th Annual Black Faculty and Staff Awards


Marco Lozzi

Meligha Garfield giving the closing remarks at the 4th annual Black Faculty and Staff Awards in the Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni House in Salt Lake City, Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023. (Photo by Marco Lozzi | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By TJ Ross, News Writer



On Saturday evening, the University of Utah’s Black Cultural Center hosted the fourth annual Black Faculty and Staff Awards at Cleone Peterson Eccles Alumni house. 

Meligha Garfield, director of the BCC, started this event with why it was first created: “With the goal to bring awareness to Black faculty and staff at the University of Utah, where their teachings, research, support and innovations will not go unnoticed.”

Seven awards were given out to fifteen faculty and staff, six of the awards were shared between two co-recipients. The awards were named after famous Black figures such as Malcolm X, Maya Angelou and James McCune Smith.

Garfield said a labor acknowledgment is owed to African Americans and all who paved the way.

“Much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development through history and across time has been made possible by enslaved Africans and their descendants,” he said.

Garfield added that these trailblazers are remembered for the changes they made but the lingering effects from generations of corruption still lead to problems today. 

Garfield shared 6% of higher education professionals and staff are Black, which is disproportionate to the 14% of Black undergraduates, adding that there continues to be a decline each year of Black faculty and staff at predominantly white institutions. 

President Taylor Randall said he couldn’t attend the awards in person because he was on the hill all afternoon talking with Utah lawmakers about bill proposals, but he joined virtually.

“We need to do better, to be better for our students and increase their chances for success,” Randall said of the statistic. 

After the introductions, history and purpose was laid out by Garfield, Mary Ann Villarreal, vice president of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion at the U shared the importance Black faculty have on the university and students.

“In our Utah community, we see African Americans, Pacific Islanders, Asian Americans and so many more not reflected in our university faculty,” she said. “We need to do more to better reflect the diverse community we see in Utah.”

As the awards rolled out, many of the recipients echoed the importance of celebrating “Black excellence” as well as education and providing education to everyone.

“Education is the one thing no one can take away from you,” said Ronald G. Coleman, emeritus associate professor of history and ethnic studies at the U, as he presented his own Ronald G. Coleman Black Alumni Award to James Jackson III. 

Joy Pierce, associate professor of writing and rhetoric studies, said Utah is a unique place to be a Black faculty member in the higher education community because of the lack of Black faculty on campus. She added the awards ceremony reminds her that the community still needs to make lots of changes.

“Sometimes I’m tired, but if we all leave, who else is going to do it?” Pierce said after accepting the James McCune Smith Award of Veneration. 

The message of love, remembrance, and community was paralleled by Bethany Hardwig from the Office of Alumni Relations when she accepted the Madam C.J. Walker Resource Award.

She was nearly brought to tears as she reflected on her time at the U which started in April 2020.

“It’s not a great time to start a new job,” she said. But she added that she feels supported at the college and pointed to the community in the room, saying they are the family who raised her up and reminded her of her purpose. 

Garfield concluded the award ceremony with a call to action, a reminder that the fight goes beyond black history month. Pictures, laughs and dancing followed.

“We have about three days left in Black History Month, and I want to say, every year this month is a lot, I just want to say thank you to those who put time, planning, and management into this month,” Garfield said. “I encourage you to continue that effort beyond February.” 


Award Recipients:

  • Madam C.J. Walker Resource Award recipients: Bethany Hardwig and Keke Fairfax
  • Malcolm X Award of Social Justice recipients: Rachel Alicia Griffin and Bryan Hubain
  • Maya Angelou Award of Innovation recipients: Tashelle Wright and Sumiko Anderson
  • James McCune Smith Award of Veneration recipients: Manny Hendrix and Joy Pierce
  • Minijean Brown Award of Virtue recipients: Nia Brooks and Hilda Echilibe
  • Ronald G. Coleman Black Alumni Award: James Jackson III
  • Marcus Garvey Black Star Excellence Award recipients: Jasmin Clardy and Domeda Duncan


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