Biennial awards recognize NYU students, faculty, alumni, and employees who have demonstrated a positive impact on the world through scholarship, advocacy, and other efforts.

Making A Difference Award Logo

NYU President Andrew Hamilton today announced the recipients of the 2020 NYU Making A Difference Awards, a biennial award honoring individuals in the NYU community who have had a positive impact on the world through scholarship and advocacy.

President Hamilton established the awards in 2016 during his first year as president of NYU as a way to underscore NYU’s mission as “a private university in the public service.” The awards recognize faculty, employees, students, and young alumni – individuals and groups– who have found innovative ways to address some of their community’s most pressing problems. This year’s honorees were selected in particular for their work in the areas of racial injustice and economic disparity, and recognizing the ways in which they interrelate.

“Higher education venerates ideas; NYU revels in ideas with impact. Making a difference is part of our DNA at NYU. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t meet a member of this university who is doing something inspiring,” said President Hamilton. “Against the backdrop of the pandemic, which has had an outsized effect on vulnerable communities, we felt that 2020’s awards warranted a focus on this important theme. For the first time, we chose to give the award in a specific area that has moved to the forefront of our institutional and national agenda–that of combating inequality in all its manifestations.”

This year’s Making A Difference Award Winners included the following:

Elise Cappella, Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, and Director, Institute of Human Development and Social Change, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, was recognized for improving our understanding how we can help children adapt more effectively in schools and communities, with particular attention to academic and social functioning among low-income children.

Jacob William Faber (GSAS ’15), Associate Professor of Sociology and Public Service, Faculty of Arts and Science and Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, was selected for his scholarship and teaching focused on the hidden and unsettled causes of segregation by race and class in American society, and how geographic sorting of individuals perpetuates economic disparities in urban ghettos, wealthy suburbs, and the diverse set of places in between.

Leah Lattimore (CAS ’04; STEINHARDT ’10, ’22), Assistant Vice President for Inclusive Global Student Leadership and Engagement, and Director, Center for Multicultural Education and Programs, Office of the Senior Vice President for Global Inclusion, Diversity and Strategic Innovation, was selected for supporting historically underrepresented students at NYU and being in the vanguard of our university-wide inclusion, diversity, belonging, and equity initiatives.

Marcus R. Pyle, Graduate School of Arts and Science, Doctoral Candidate, Class of 2021, and Founder and CEO, ChamberWorks Music Institute, was honored for opening the doors of music and arts and culture to economically disadvantaged middle and high school students, enriching their lives and setting them on a promising path for success academically and in their future lives.

Lorel E. Burns (DEN ’15), Assistant Professor, Endodontics, NYU College of Dentistry, and Cheryline Pezzullo (DEN ’15), Clinical Assistant Professor, Cariology and Comprehensive Care, and Assistant Director for Community Base and Dental Education, NYU College of Dentistry, for co-founding and continuing to serve as co-faculty mentors of the Saturday Academy program at the NYU College of Dentistry, which works to increase diversity in the healthcare professions, particularly dentistry, by introducing underrepresented high school students to the profession of dentistry, while preparing them for the college application process.

NYU will hold a virtual celebration honoring the 2020 Making A Difference Awards recipients. To register for the event or for more information on the history of Making a Difference Awards, visit our website.


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