Whether championing diversity in STEM fields, innovating in their classrooms to be more inclusive, or building a sense of community with faculty colleagues, the four winners of this year’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) Dean’s Award for Inclusion and Belonging have made it a priority to make others feel welcome and respected at Yale.
This year’s winners, recently announced by FAS Dean Tamar Szabó Gendler, are faculty members Ruth Blake, Michael Loewenberg, Kathryn Slanski, and Claudia Valeggia.
First presented in 2021, the award recognizes ladder and instructional faculty members who have made outstanding contributions to creating and sustaining a climate of inclusion and belonging in the FAS and the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS). The winners were nominated by colleagues and departmental chairs across the FAS and SEAS.
For each nominee, a commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion shapes their work as teachers, mentors, and researchers and has had a meaningful impact on our community,” Gendler said in announcing the winners. “This year’s recipients are exceptional university citizens who have made our community more equitable and welcoming.”
Gendler hailed the contributions of each winner: 
A biogeochemist whose work has transformed understandings of the geochemical and microbiological processes that take place in the oceans and on extraterrestrial worlds, Ruth Blake is a champion of diversity and inclusion in STEM fields. She led efforts to establish the Earth and Planetary Sciences Public Outreach/DEI [diversity, equity, and inclusion] Fellowship program and has served in leadership roles in numerous other programs at Yale, in New Haven, and in STEM fields more broadly that have opened doors to STEM for underrepresented young people. Her work has been transformative.”
A leading scholar of fluid dynamics, Michael Loewenberg is also a champion of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within and beyond his department. Loewenberg has played a critical role in recruiting and supporting graduate students of color, work that will have a palpable impact on the department and the field for years to come.”
An expert on the ancient transmission and reception of literary, historical, religious, and visual traditions, Kathryn Slanski teaches courses on Near Eastern culture and history and Directed Studies courses in literature. Slanski’s keen insights on the needs of faculty and students were crucial to the work of the FAS/DEIB Advisory Committee. As director of undergraduate studies for NELC and previously for Directed Studies, she has introduced pedagogical and curricular innovation and provided transformative support to students. She is a tireless advocate for equity and inclusion in the study of premodern cultures.”
Claudia Valeggia is a groundbreaking scholar of the interactions between human reproduction and its ecological and cultural context. [She] is a consummate curator of community in the classroom. Her pedagogy enables her students to thrive and centers the voices and perspectives of marginalized persons. She has also fostered community for faculty across Yale in her role leading the Council for Latin American and Iberian Studies.”
Valeggia, speaking of her own dedication to fostering a diverse and inclusive community, said that “full learning is only possible when all voices are heard.”
I am a full believer in the collective construction of knowledge, both as a pedagogical approach and as a leadership style,” she said. “Our shared knowledge helps us advance in research, learning, and in attaining whatever goals we set for our projects. This horizontal-based approach encourages a sense of belonging that is crucial for sharing and owning whatever it is you are doing.”
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