UCL celebrates its staff at the Widening Participation Community of Practice Awards 2022
26 January 2023
The first ever Widening Participation Community of Practice (WP CoP) Awards took place on 8 December 2022 – find out about our winners and how to join the community!
Original article written by Carter Howard.
On 8 December 2022, UCL hosted the first ever Widening Participation Community of Practice (WP CoP) Awards at Bidborough House to celebrate the outstanding efforts of individuals and teams across UCL who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to widening participation, diversity and inclusion, and improving access to higher education. The event brought together staff from across UCL to celebrate their achievements over the past year.
The event was driven by Lauren Gillett, WP CoP co-lead, who wanted to build a platform that recognised and celebrated the efforts of individuals and teams across UCL working to break down barriers to education. For Lauren, “these individuals and teams often work tirelessly behind the scenes to support students from underrepresented backgrounds and to break down barriers to education, and the awards ceremony provided an important platform for highlighting their efforts and contributions.” In addition, the awards evening acted as a key enabler of UCL’s 2034 Strategic Plan by recognising and rewarding staff who have contributed to advancing the institution’s widening participation agenda and promoting diversity and inclusion at UCL.
After receiving over 60 nominations, Lucie March (Head of Access and Widening Participation) and Paulette Williams (Head of Student Success Projects) selected the winners. Awards were presented in six categories and winners included:
- Access Award: Michael Sulu [pictured above], who has been instrumental in developing and implementing strategies and contributing to many programmes that support students from underrepresented backgrounds in their transition to university.
- Student Success Award: Jon Chandler & Writing History Plus Team, who have implemented workshops and tutorials to help students, particularly those who identify as BME, improve their grades and contribute to the department’s strategy to reduce the awarding gap.
- Schools & Community Award: Sarah Jeal, who has built strong relationships with schools and community organizations to promote access to higher education for disadvantaged students.
- Careers & Progression Award: Penny Longman, who has worked with UCL's careers service and her network of employers to support students from underrepresented backgrounds in their transition from university to the workplace.
- Above & Beyond Award: Will Dunn, who has been instrumental in developing and growing the ORBYTS programme to over 25 schools that support students from disadvantaged backgrounds wanting to study Physics.
- People’s Choice Award: Simona Aimar was voted for by staff for her work as Widening Participation Officer in the Philosophy department.
All winners and nominees demonstrated exceptional dedication and commitment to promoting access to higher education, diversity and inclusion, and supporting students along the way. Their efforts should be noted and are truly inspiring.
The second part of the evening consisted of informal networking over some drinks and nibbles where UCL staff connected with new and old colleagues to congratulate and discuss their brilliant work in more detail.
By highlighting the achievements and tireless work of all the winners and nominees, the WP CoP team hope that the ceremony can motivate and inspire efforts to continue improving access at UCL. The Widening Participation Community of Practice Awards will be an annual event, providing an important platform for recognising and celebrating the contributions of individuals and teams who are working to break down barriers to higher education and improving diversity and inclusion at UCL.
The event was sponsored and funded by UCL’s Access and Widening Participation department and organised by WP CoP Co-Leads, Lauren Gillett and Caroline Fionda-Dedman, as well as the WP CoP Awards committee: Mark Fuller, Anne Preston, Esra Celik, Carter Howard, Chloe Richardson, Elise Polley, Irina Lazar, Katie Singer, Rebecca Kelly, Sarah Sterlini, Sonal Bharadva.
For more information about the WP CoP, please contact Lauren Gillett or Caroline Fionda-Dedman. You can join the Widening Participation Community of Practice Teams channel to start networking.