JJ Pionke is an Applied Health Sciences Librarian at the Social Sciences, Health, and Education Library who received the Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award within the Excellence in Access & Accommodations Category. Awarded by the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, it recognizes the achievements and contributions of faculty, academic professionals, and civic service employees who made an impact in creating and maintaining an inclusive, learning, living, and working community at Illinois through teaching, research, hiring practices, advocacy, programs, and events. The award itself was created and dedicated to Dr. Larine Y. Cowan, who had made efforts in diversity, equity, and inclusion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1982-1999, and the award reflects a commitment to human rights advocacy, social justice, and diversity.
The Larine Y. Cowan Make a Difference Award has many categories, including Advocacy for LGBTQ Affairs, Excellence in Access and Accommodations, Leadership in Diversity, and Teaching and Mentoring in Diversity. JJ Pionke is a recipient of the award in the category of Excellence in Access and Accommodations, which honors individuals or campus units for their efforts in improving the access and expansion of programs for people with disabilities.
To speak on this significant recognition, JJ Pionke shares, “I am very excited to receive this award not just because it highlights the work that I have done, but that the award draws attention to the accessibility concerns on campus that still need work. While UIUC is known for its accessibility, there is always more work to be done in large part because of changing technologies and our understanding of disabilities changes over time as well.”
Nominations for the award can be submitted annually and done through self-nominations, or by any member of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign community, including co-workers, supervisors, advisors, the dean, department heads, and students.