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Campus Ministry

2021 Miryam Award

By Mary Niebler, Coordinator of Cross-Cultural Immersions, Center for Social Concern

The Center for Social Concern is pleased to award this year’s Miryam Award to Laura Bistrek, the Executive Director of the Diversity in Engineering Center.  Laura was nominated by Chris Fishpaw, the Director of Student Leadership Programs.

Chris shared in his nomination of Laura, “Laura has shown a clear commitment to gender equity amongst all forms of non-discrimination and equity. Specifically for this nomination, Laura has advocated for and led the creation of the UD Men for Gender Equity program. This program recognizes the critical role men must play in advocating for gender equity.”

It was Laura’s vision and leadership that brought about a program on campus, which strives to bring about a climate and reality of gender equity at UD.  

The Miryam Award, begun in 1996 by Campus Ministry’s Center for Social Concern, seeks to acknowledge individuals or groups who go above and beyond their job descriptions to improve and advance the climate for women at UD.  

Laura has worked in the School of Engineering since 2006, in roles that have supported women multi-ethnic students in engineering.  Currently, she directs the Diversity in Engineering Center, which serves as “conduits between engineering faculty, staff and students for networking, communication and service" for the multi-ethnic engineering program, the women engineering program, international engineering student engagement, as well as high school programs. This work has improved the climate for women in a male-dominated field and serves as needed support for underrepresented students in engineering, who are also underrepresented in the field.  

Chris Fishpaw shares in his nomination that Laura saw a greater need on campus for men to be involved in the conversation and actions around gender equity at UD as a whole.  “Laura identified a program that has seen success on other campuses, and did the work of identifying partners in the initiative as well as advocating for financial and institutional support for the work. Laura has led/co-led both the Planning Team which did work to bring the program to campus for the first time as well as the Women's Advisory Council which continues the work and oversees the Equity Advocates. Because of Laura, conversations and action related to gender equity have increased and with meaningful participation from men.”

In the spirit of the Miryam Award, named after the many female leaders of the bible, and awarded each year near the Feast of the Annunciation, Laura’s leadership and strength have expanded the conversation on gender equity at UD, and for that we are all grateful.

The award ceremony will be March 22 at 3:30PM via Zoom. Please contact Mary Niebler for the Zoom link.

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