Brent R. Stockwell, PhD, Honored at Columbia’s Lavender Graduation Ceremony for LGBTQ+ Students

May 16, 2022


Brent R. Stockwell (center) receives award at Columbia's Lavender Graduation ceremony; pictured with Vanessa A. Gonzalez-Siegel (left), associate director of multicultural affairs & LGBTQ outreach at Columbia Undergraduate Student Life and Ashley Moody-Astwood (right), student life program manager at School of General Studies Student Life. (Credit: Columbia University Multicultural Affairs Office)

Brent R. Stockwell, PhD, has received the Dean Peter Awn Commitment to the LGBTQ Community Award at Columbia University’s Lavender Graduation Ceremony, held May 4. The award recognizes an exemplary faculty or staff member who has exhibited a commitment to the LGBTQ+ community in their work at Columbia University. The late Peter Awn, PhD, served as dean of the School of General Studies for 20 years and was devoted to making Columbia  inclusive for non-traditional students, and a dedicated supporter of Columbia’s LGBTQ+ community.

“I am honored to receive this award and I hope it will encourage other faculty members to act as allies to the LGBTQ and other underrepresented student communities,” says Dr. Stockwell, professor of biological sciences and chemistry at Columbia and member of the Precision Oncology and Systems Biology research program at Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center. “Small acts by faculty members can have a profound effect on student experiences. The award is also tremendously meaningful to me because I greatly admired Dean Awn and how much he did for LGBTQ+ students.”

Dr. Stockwell has been a professor at Columbia for 18 years, and over the past year, has served as chair of the biological sciences department’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee.

In this role, he helped implement the University Provost’s recommendations on supportive policies for LGBTQ+ members of the department and organized a workshop to discuss how LGBTQ+ student, faculty and staff can be supported and celebrated. Nominated by students for this award, Dr. Stockwell is committed to supporting LGBTQ+ members at Columbia by encouraging inclusive policies.

First started at the University of Michigan in 1995, the Lavender Graduation is now conducted at hundreds of universities nationwide. The color lavender was adopted in the 1960s by the gay rights movement to symbolize empowerment, following the Stonewall Riots in New York City in 1969. At Columbia, the Lavender Graduation ceremony recognizes LGBTQ+ and allied students graduating from Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, the School of General Studies and Barnard College.