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November 17, 2003

Alumni Association announces award winners for 2003–04

Assemblyman John Laird, anthropologist Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, housing staffer Carol Douglas-Hammer selected

By Louise Donahue

UCSC’s Alumni Association will give its highest honors in 2003-04 to a California assemblyman, an anthropologist, and a campus housing staff member.

John Laird represents the 27th assembly district, which includes Santa Cruz. Photo: Greg Pio
Diane Gifford-Gonzalez’s research centers on the interrelationship of people and animals. Photo by Jun Ueno Sunseri.
Carol Douglas-Hammer is known for her uncanny ability to make accurate forecasts of fall housing needs. Photo: UCSC Photo Services

In ceremonies that will take place on campus in February, John Laird will receive the Alumni Achievement Award; Diane Gifford-Gonzalez, the Distinguished Teaching Award; and Carol Douglas-Hammer, the Outstanding Staff Award.

Laird was elected in 2002 to represent the state’s 27th assembly district. Prior to representing a district that includes parts of Santa Cruz, Monterey, and Santa Clara Counties, Laird served two terms on the Santa Cruz City Council, where he was elected to two one-year terms as mayor. He also served as a Cabrillo College trustee for eight years. He graduated from UCSC’s Stevenson College in 1972 with a degree in politics.

“John Laird is an experienced and tested leader,” said Fred Keeley, who preceded Laird as assemblyman. ”He is passionate and committed to the causes we care about.”

Among those causes is the environment, a longtime priority for Laird. He is chair of the assembly’s Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee and the Select Committee on California Water Needs and Climate Change.

In the 1980s, Laird drew national attention for being one of a handful of openly gay mayors. He has been a strong advocate for gay and lesbian rights and authored a bill signed into law recently that adds "hatred and intolerance prevention" training as a category for which school districts, county offices of education, and eligible charter schools can be reimbursed.

Laird is a familiar voice to public radio listeners in the Santa Cruz area from hosting the weekly Talk of the Bay public affairs program on KUSP Radio for five years before launching his assembly campaign. (Laird now offers weekly updates on "The Sacramento Report," which airs Monday mornings at 10:55 a.m.) And he is one of the elected officials who participate in quarterly "Radio Town Halls", answering listeners' questions during an hour-long live call-in show.He was also a regular editorial page columnist for the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

Distinguished Teaching Award winner Diane Gifford-Gonzalez is an anthropological archaeologist who reaches out to students at every level, teaching large introductory courses as well as upper-division topical and theory courses.

She also sponsors multiple independent studies each quarter and collaborates with students on paper and poster presentations at national meetings.

“Each of these courses requires very different approaches and skills, and Diane has mastered them all,” said colleague Judith Habicht-Mauche, associate professor of anthropology and Department of Anthropology chair. “She is a captivating lecturer who speaks with passion, wit, and empathy.” Gifford-Gonzalez received an Excellence in Teaching Award from the Academic Senate in 1999–2000.

Gifford-Gonzalez’s research centers on the interrelationship of people and animals. Her work has tracked the movement of different animals as they were introduced into new environments along with the people who herded or tended them. A Fulbright Scholar, she has taught graduate courses at the University of Nairobi in Kenya and intensive workshops on zooarchaeology in Beijing, China.

Earlier this year, Gifford-Gonzalez received a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation to continue her research on prehistoric human ecology and environmental impacts in the Monterey Bay region.

Outstanding Staff Award winner Carol Douglas-Hammer deals with more modern human ecology as assistant director for Student Housing Services. Each year, Douglas-Hammer combines her analytical ability, research skills, and even “a touch of clairvoyance”—according to one colleague—to make amazingly accurate forecasts of fall-housing occupancy.

In her more than 20 years at UCSC, Douglas-Hammer’s responsibilities have grown steadily as what was once Housing and Dining Services has expanded to include the colleges and child care. Douglas-Hammer has gained a reputation across campus as an effective, results-oriented professional. She has been particularly effective in directing the creation of marketing and informational materials for prospective and current students—and their families—that greatly contribute to important recruitment efforts and maintain successful student relationships. Douglas-Hammer has also encouraged maximum use of online resources, including online registration for housing and other services.

“Nearly every student who has attended within the last two decades, or who will attend UCSC in the future, has been or will be positively affected by her work,” said Sue Matthews, director of business and support services for the Colleges and University Housing Services.

Douglas-Hammer is known for going the extra mile and putting students first. “While she is charged with ensuring compliance with the business end of housing, she has always reached beyond this in dealing with students and their families,” said Michael McCawley, associate director of admissions. “On many occasions, she has found creative solutions for many incoming undergraduates faced with difficulties, and many of these students come from underrepresented ethnicities and/or low-income families.”

A $500 cash award and a framed certificate will be presented to the winners of the Alumni Achievement Award, the Distinguished Teaching Award, and the Outstanding Staff Award at a luncheon on Saturday, February 7, from noon to 2:30 p.m. at the Colleges Nine and Ten Dining Hall Multipurpose Room. Ten College Service Awards and 37 need-based scholarships will also be presented by the UCSC Alumni Association at the luncheon.

Reservations for the luncheon, which costs $18, may be made online or by calling (831) 459-2530.

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