Johns Hopkins to honor political scientist Lester Spence with $50,000 faculty diversity prize

He will be among those honored at annual Diversity Recognition Awards Ceremony

Lester Spence, an associate professor of political science and Africana studies at Johns Hopkins University, will be presented with the Provost's Prize for Faculty Excellence in Diversity during an awards ceremony in the Glass Pavilion on the Homewood campus on Tuesday.

Lester Spence

Image caption: Lester Spence

The prize, established last year, recognizes a full-time faculty member who has made scholarly or creative contributions related to diversity. The award is accompanied by a $50,000 honorarium.

"Lester Spence, a leading scholar of political science, has long taken his scholarship—so important in recognizing inequality across diverse populations—outside the walls of the university," said Christopher Celenza, vice provost for faculty affairs. "He has helped open Hopkins to the city of Baltimore in a way that is admirable, serving as a challenge to all of us to do better."

Tilak Ratnanather, an associate research professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, has been named runner-up and will receive a $10,000 award.

"Tilak Ratnanather has consistently worked with the disabled and reached out to underserved populations," Celenza said. "It is an honor to be a part of the same university as these outstanding scholar-citizens."

The Diversity Recognition Awards Ceremony is hosted annually by the Johns Hopkins Diversity Leadership Council, a coalition of students, faculty, and staff from all divisions of the university who work to further diversity and inclusion at the institution.

During the ceremony, the DLC will honor 10 individuals and two groups who have demonstrated outstanding commitments to diversity at Johns Hopkins.

"These awards are rigorously selected by members of the Diversity Leadership Council and recognize exceptional contributions to diversity and inclusion at Johns Hopkins," said Ashley Llorens, chair of the DLC. "Culture can be difficult to change—policy and programming are important, but by themselves can't shift a culture. That's something you have to inspire people to do. That's why it's important to recognize individuals and groups who instill in others a spirit of inclusion. When a critical mass of people have that spirit, that's when you've really moved toward an inclusive culture."

The winners of the DLC Diversity Recognition Awards are:

  • Danielle Chou, Applied Physics Laboratory
  • Monica Guerrero Vazquez, Bayview Medical Center
  • Cathryn Kabacoff, School of Medicine
  • Mary Ann Kalin, Johns Hopkins Health System
  • Wendy Osefo, School of Education
  • Jerry Prince, Whiting School of Engineering
  • Renata Arrington Sanders, School of Medicine
  • Charalampos Siotos, School of Medicine
  • Mo Speller, Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
  • Tiana Warren, Whiting School of Engineering
  • "Women of Hopkins" Homewood campus exhibit, produced by Karen Fleming and Dominic Scalise
  • LEAD (Liberate, Eradicate, Activate to Decolonize) student group at the Bloomberg School of Public Health