Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award

photo of Dr. Cornelius Hopper

The Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award is designed to inspire people in our community to engage in activities that will make Samuel Merritt University a place where all people will come and learn. The award is named for and honors Dr. Cornelius Hopper, who joined the SMU Board in 1997 and served as its chair from 2000 to 2011. Dr. Hopper has been dedicated to addressing racial disparities in the nation’s healthcare system since 1971.

Submission Deadline Date:

 December 7, 2018

Recipient Announcement:

 During the Black History Month  Celebration
 February 26, 2019 

Send Nomination Letter to:


Subject Line:

 Dr. Cornelius Hopper Diversity Excellence Award

Who is eligible?

  • All faculty: includes adjunct faculty
  • All staff: includes part time staff
  • All students

 Nominee Categories

  • Individual – Any faculty, staff, student, or an individual affiliated with the University such as an alumna, alumnus, donor or retired employee.

Nomination Letter Components (1-2 pages)

  • Nominee name(s), title(s), and academic program(s) or department(s)
  • Reference one or more selection criteria (see below)
  • Project description: a statement describing the exemplary program, initiative, project, or research that advances the University’s committment to diversity and inclusion.

Recipient Selection Process

  1. The selection will evaluate nominations based on the following characteristics:
  • ​Sustainable Impact resulting in institutional change for achieving diversity.
  • Collaboration with other units, departments, programs, or communities beyond the University.
  • Accountability through assessment that establishes measurable outcomes or improvement.
  • Intersections across multiple dimensions of diversity (**intersectionality)
  1. ​The sub-committee will present recommendations to the President
  2. Recipient(s) are chosen by the President
  3. Recipient(s) are announced during the Black History Month Celebration

Award and Recognition

  • An individual awardee will receive $1,000
  • Each awardee(s) will have their name(s) inscribed on a plaque that will be prominently displayed in the Office of the President.
  • Recipients are announced and presented during the Black History Month Celebration. 

Past Award Recipients
2014| Pride Committee for their work to build a supportive, inclusive, and engaged LGBTQI2S community within SMU.
2015| Che Abram for her 12 years of leadership supporting and facilitating diversity initiatives including recruiting and retaining students of color in SMU programs.  
2016| Margrette Peterson, for her commitment, leadership, and dedication to diversity initiatives inclusivie of her work planning, coordinating, and facilitating SMU's annual Black History Month Celebration. 
2017| Students Carmen Craven (BRIDGE mentorship program), Mohammad Deen (Humanitarian work), Nga Dwork (BRIDGE mentorship program), and Shante Myers (BRIDGE mentorship program)
2018| Cynthia Stacy, RN, MSN for her service and committment to student academic success and aiding their ability to thrive while in one of SMU's nursing programs. 


**Intersectionality addresses an individual’s multiple identities and modalities of social relationships and seeks to understand how various biological, social and cultural categories such as gender, race, class, ability, sexual orientation, and other axes of identity interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality and inequity.


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