The 2015 Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award for Leadership in Diversity was given to Professor Steven Zimmerman. This honor was in recognition of his leadership in being an outstanding advocate in advancing diversity at Illinois.
As head of the Department of Chemistry, achieving diversity within the department was at the top of his list of to do items. Faculty plus graduate and undergraduate students wrote glowing nomination letters of his efforts in improving diversity at the University of Illinois.
A portion of one of his nominating letters stated:
"Steve’s exceptional dedication to and success in promoting diversity and inclusion via research, hiring practices, courses, programs, and events have made a huge difference in the lives of thousands of underrepresented students ... One of his most impressive strengths is that Steve leads by example. I believe this is truly extraordinary for a research faculty member in the sciences. He understands his role as a leader in the department, on campus, and at the national level. Steve is not only an advocate for diversity and inclusion, he truly seeks to engage and understand people from different backgrounds and cultures. He is often heard saying that diversity is an asset because it leads to better creativity, productivity, and research by involving people of different backgrounds. Steve is passionately dedicated to promoting diversity, from the incoming university freshman through campus faculty."
The award is given in honor of Dr. Larine Y. Cowan, past director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access (ODEA) at the University of Illinois. There are four categories for the award including Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs, Excellence in Access and Accommodations, Leadership in Diversity, and Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity. All four are awarded by Illinois’ Office of Diversity, Equity, and Access. Zimmerman received the award at the 30th Annual Celebration of Diversity on Friday, November 6, 2015.