OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

OSU bestows honors for cultural commitments

01/29/1998

CORVALLIS - Commitment to cultural diversity has earned campus honors for an Oregon State University educator and two students.

Patricia Sakurai, an assistant professor of ethic studies, and Shannon Butler and Francisco Ponce, both OSU seniors, were each honored with OSU's 1998 Frances Dancy Hooks Award.

Hooks, an educator and former national coordinator of Women in NAACP, established the award during a visit to Corvallis in 1994. Hooks sought to recognize and encourage efforts in coalition building among diverse groups and individuals.

This is the first year the award was won by a faculty member, said Phyllis Lee, director of OSU's Office of Multicultural Affairs. A group of faculty, staff, students and off-campus members choose the recipients.

"It's been a whirlwind of activity on campus for the past two years," said Sakurai, who joined OSU in 1996. She advises the Asian Pacific American Student Union and works with the OSU Asian Cultural Center.

Sakurai says she focuses on building a sense of community and support on campus and with community, school and government groups. She has a doctorate in English from the State University of New York.

Butler, a Troutdale resident, is studying science and sociology.

"I've been involved in the Associated Students of OSU Multicultural and Disabled Affairs Task Force for the past three years, and this year, I'm the director," Butler said. "I've also been involved in the Native American Student Association."

Ponce, who is studying philosophy, was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, but left at a young age.

"I'm from a migrant work family," he said. "We moved around quite a bit." He is involved with OSU's Cesar Chavez Cultural Center and OSU's Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlan (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlan), or, MEChA, a student group that provides education for the community through seminars, workshops and guest speakers.

He is also involved in a dance theater group that focuses on cultural issues.

"By educating people on cultural backgrounds and issues, we can better understand each other," Ponce said.