Pacific University Diversity Awards

The Diversity Awards recognize the accomplishments of faculty and staff who advance the university's mission in the areas of diversity, equity, justice, civic engagement, and global community.  

Kate Garrison "Overcoming the Odds" Award

The recipient of the Kate Garrison "Overcoming the Odds" Award recognizes a faculty or staff member who is a pioneer, trail-blazer, or innovator to advance change by his/her work that advances justice and equity specifically for people from under-represented racial and/or ethnic backgrounds. This work must have an impact on the greater Pacific University communities in helping people overcome obstacles.

Recipients shall have engaged in sincere, active efforts to promote racial/ethnic equity and justice, and should be able to demonstrate evidence of the impact of their work on the local or global communities. 


Kate Garrison was a woman of mixed African American and Native American heritage who lived from 1864-1943. At about the age of 18, she was brought from the Puyallup Agency to a state-run boarding school for natives that existed in Forest Grove. She is the first known person of African American descent to live in the town. Her father, John Garrison, was among the first African American pioneers in Kitsap County, Washington. Her mother Jane, (or Piapach in her native language was the niece of Chief Seattle. Kate's story is important because she represents the resilience of African American and Native peoples in the Pacific Northwest in the face of great challenges. When she was in Forest Grove, it was technically illegal for African Americans to reside in the state of Oregon, and she likely had to hide her background. Her native culture, too, was suppressed by the harsh administration of the boarding school. This did not stop Kate from returning to her home in Kitsap County and continuing a long life of striving. Her relatives continue to live on ancestral Duwamish lands and are fighting for federal recognition of their tribe.

University Diversity & Justice Award

The recipient of the University Diversity & Justice Award is a faculty or staff member whose work creates a diverse and sustainable community that inspires students to pursue justice in our world, and embraces a rich diversity of ideas, peoples, and cultures, with an emphasis on public service within the global community.

Specifically, recipients shall have engaged in sincere, active efforts to promote diversity and social justice for under-represented populations, and should be able to demonstrate evidence of the impact of their work on the local or global communities.

Specific diversity efforts should advance equity, inclusion, and justice for people from under-represented groups based on: race, ethnicity, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age, abilities, socio-economic status, veteran status, religious preference, or any other classification protected under state or federal law.