‘Soaring’ Presentation of Diversity and Principles of Community Awards

8 people standing, posed, award recipients, speakers and a presenter at Soaring to New Heights, 2023 and
Soaring to New Heights award recipients and speakers, from left: Tina Rulli; Blake Flaugher; Calvin E. Handy, police chief emeritus; Vickie Gomez; Emily Scivoletto; Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion; Kristee Haggins; and Mikael Villalobos, associate vice chancellor, Campus Community Relations. Not pictured: Eunah Cho Preston.

Quick Summary

  • In-person ceremony for 2022 and ’23 recipients
  • For support of diversity, Principles of Community
  • Chief Calvin Handy presents leadership awards

UC Davis held its Soaring to New Heights celebration last week as an in-person event for the first time since 2019, honoring the 2022 and 2023 recipients of the university’s Diversity and Principles of Community Awards.

Renetta Garrison Tull, UC Davis vice chancellor and faculty, speaks at podium
Vice Chancellor Renetta Garrison Tull addresses the Soaring to New Heights audience.

“I’ve only been in a Zoom box” before this, said Renetta Garrison Tull, vice chancellor of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. She took up her post in July 2019, missing that year’s Soaring to New Heights, and, then, during the pandemic years, presiding over a remote program for the 2020 and 2021 awards.

The Staff Diversity Administrative Advisory Committee and the Office of Campus Community Relations, within the DEI office, coordinated the May 22 breakfast event in AGR Hall at the Buehler Alumni Center. The program comprised the presentation of individual and team Diversity and Principles of Community Awards, and the Calvin E. Handy Leadership Awards.

Principles of Community

Soaring to New Heights dates back to the adoption of the UC Davis Principles of Community in 1990, signed by then-Chancellor Theodore L. Hullar and leaders of the ASUCD and Graduate Student Association, Academic Senate and Academic Staff Organization (forerunner of the Academic Federation), and Staff Assembly (Davis campus and UC Davis Medical Center).

The Principles of Community “acknowledge we are a diverse community composed of individuals of many faiths, cultures, ethnicities, races and orientations with many perspectives and abilities,” Tull said. “It also recognizes that, to create an inclusive and intellectually vibrant community, we must understand and value both our individual differences and our common ground. They are a set of ideals and expectations to build and maintain a culture based on mutual respect and caring.”

Villalobos at podium.
Associate Vice Chancellor Mikael Villalobos served as the master of ceremonies.

Mikael Villalobos, associate vice chancellor, Office of Campus and Community Relations, said: “Today is an opportunity to recognize and celebrate UC Davis staff, faculty and community members who have made significant contributions to supporting diversity and inclusion efforts on the campus. It is also time to celebrate those who uphold and exemplify the Principles of Community.”

Individual Awards 2022 and 2023

  • Eunah Cho Preston, UC Davis staff
    Eunah Cho Preston
    Eunah Cho Preston, marketing and design specialist, serving the many centers, programs and projects within the One Health Institute, part of the School of Veterinary Medicine — In addition to her main responsibilities, she channels her passion and efforts into transforming and advancing justice, equity, diversity and inclusion, or JEDI. Most recently she organized staff and graduate students to apply — successfully — for a $10,000 grant to curate a JEDI-focused science and conservation speaker series as well as professionally facilitated training for the more than 60 faculty, staff, students and other affiliates of the institute.
  • Emily Sciviletto, UC Davis administration
    Emily Scivoletto
    Emily Scivoletto, senior assistant dean for student affairs, School of Law — With her help, the school added a diversity, equity and inclusion fellow in student affairs, focusing on maintaining and expanding DEI activities and events. Sciviletto led a working group and collaborations with the Black Law Students Association and Law Students Association to establish the school’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service and Celebration. She also has been instrumental in the formation of the school’s First-Generation Advocates, to assist students who are the first in their families to earn college or professional degrees, as well as students from law-income backgrounds.

Deanna Falge Awards 2022 and 2023

Blake Flaugher receives certificate from Alissa Magorian
Alissa Magorian, undergraduate advisor, College of Letters and Science, and a member of the Staff Diversity Administrative Diversity Committee, presents certificate to Blake Flaugher.

Named after a retired affirmative action compliance officer and honoring five years or more of service and commitment to diversity and inclusion.

  • Blake Flaugher, UC Davis staff
    Blake Flaugher
    Blake Flaugher, health promotion specialist, Student Health and Counseling Services, Davis campus — “He draws upon his own experiences as a college student in the South to be a positive role model for LGBTQIA+ students and employees at the university.” He develops and implements public health strategies at all levels of intervention to improve the sexual well-being of students, with a particular focus on policy and organizational practice. He helps run the Love Lab to inform students on safe sex practices, with the goal of preventing HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Tina Rulli headshot, UC Davis faculty
    Tina Rulli
    Tina Rulli, associate professor, Department of Philosophy — “As a woman of color, Dr. Rulli is always the first person to be asked for advice from all her colleagues. Whether it is writing the solidarity statement against “Anti-Asian Hate,” advice for how to make students with marginalized identities more comfortable and likely to apply to the program, or to help establish the Diversity Working Group, Dr. Rulli always donates her time and creativity.” She does not limit her focus to diversity numbers, but also considers how marginalized and minority students can have better experiences once they are here.

Eleanor Fontes Fulton Award 2022 and 2023

Vickie Gomez, UC Davis staff, gestures with hands at podium
Vickie Gomez expresses her appreciation.

Named after a retired director of diversity, affirmative action and Equal Employment Opportunity, and recognizing exceptional, careerlong contributions by an individual with similar responsibilities, and who is retiring. One award was given for 2022 and 2023, to Vickie Gomez of the Office of Campus Community Relations, Davis campus.

Mikael Villalobos and Vickie Gomez embrace
Gomez embraces her longtime colleague Villalobos after he presented her with the Eleanor Fontes Fulton Award. ​

Gomez is completing a 35-year career in higher education: 14 years in a TRiO counseling program at San José State University, followed by 21 years at UC Davis, first in undergraduate advising in the College of Letters and Science, then the last 15 years in the Office of Campus Community Relations. She started in the office as a program coordinator, organizing such events as Soaring to New Heights for many years, and moved up to director of Campus and Community Engagement, the position from which she will retire at the end of June.

In her role as director, she provides vision and leadership in the development, management and implementation and evaluation of strategic initiative project/programs and policies to improve campus climate and community relations in support of the university’s Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion. She also supports employee resource groups and administrative advisory committees. She has been a member of the UC Davis Diversity Trainers Institute and a facilitator of the Cross-Cultural Competence certificate series.

Team Awards 2022 and 2023

  • College of Engineering Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee Since its establishment in spring 2021, the committee has planned and facilitated a number of college events and trainings, explored the cultural barriers that perpetuate oppression at the institutional level, increased awareness of power and privilege, and sought to foster a more inclusive and equitable campus environment while working together to have open and honest dialogue about complicated issues related to DEI in the college.
  • Patient Care Services/Nursing at UC Davis Health — Honoring the unit’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council, “committed to advancing the strategic goal of supporting diversity, equity and inclusion as being integral to the care of ourselves, our colleagues and our patients and their families.” The council has run free flu shot clinics in traditionally underserved communities the last three years and expanded the program to include a food and coat drive.
All photos except Eunah Cho Preston by Fred Greaves for UC Davis.

Calvin E. Handy Leadership Awards 2022 and 2023

Calvin E. Handy, UC Davis police chief emeritus, and Kristee Haggins, former UC Davis staff and faculty, posed
Police Chief Emeritus Calvin E. Handy and award recipient Kristee Haggins

Named after the police chief emeritus who received the first such award in 2005, these awards recognize individual community members, groups or organizations. Chief Handy made the presentations.

  • Kristee Haggins holds hands to heart in appreciation, at Soaring to New Heights podium
    Haggins offers heartfelt response.
    Kristee Haggins, a psychologist with Student Health and Counseling Services, Davis campus, from 1994 to 2012, and adjunct professor, who later founded Sacramento-based Safe Black Space, where she is the executive director — Safe Black Space is known for its Community Healing Circles, which are grounded in African principles of wellness and designed to counteract the negative impacts of racism and anti-Blackness, and foster connections and a sense of belonging to help Black people not just survive but thrive. At Student Health and Counseling Services, she served as the associate director as well as the director of training and the director of the Community Advising Network, or CAN.
  • Hate-Free Together, a community call-to-action campaign to end hate incidents and prioritize the well-being and safety of all residents — Building upon their successful collaboration in Healthy Davis Together and Healthy Yolo Together, UC Davis, the city of Davis and Yolo County have joined forces again to stand up to the ongoing epidemic of hate. “Recent incidents in our community have shown continued prejudice against groups and individuals due to their race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and other characteristics. We all have a responsibility to combat this hate.”

Media Resources

Dateline Staff: Dave Jones, editor, 530-752-6556, dateline@ucdavis.edu; Cody Kitaura, News and Media Relations specialist, 530-752-1932, kitaura@ucdavis.edu.

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