May 20, 2014

by Joelle Brown

Cassie Barnhardt, an assistant professor of Higher Education and Student Affairs, and William Liu, a Counseling Psychology professor, received the 2014 Audrey Qualls Commitment to Diversity Award. The student-nominated award is given annually to a College of Education faculty or staff member recognizes activism in issues of diversity.

The award is named after the late Professor Audrey Qualls in recognition of the hardworking, selfless spirit that she embodied in advocating for students and diversity issues in the UI College of Education.

Students selected Barnhardt because of the overwhelming impact her scholarship has on creating inclusive environments on college campuses. Students say she not only excels as a professor, but also as a mentor.

“Professor Barnhardt skillfully advices non-traditional students, and I have personally benefitted from her mentorship,” says Peggy Valdés, a graduate student. “She is sensitive to my needs as a Chicana and older student, while also challenging me to go beyond my own preconceived limitations.”

Liu received the diversity award because of his vast academic work in the areas of multiculturalism and also because he provides mental health support to homeless populations at the Iowa City Shelter House. For over 10 years, he has been working with local homeless populations as a doctor, friend, and advocate.

“Professor Liu recognizes the importance of empathy, warmth, and regard for fellow community members in order to advance a community,” says Mandy Conrad, a graduate student. “He recognizes that the work of a single person can generate a large community response. As a result, he leads by example and with enthusiasm to inspire others to invest in the community in which we live.”