Deborah Zuercher with graduate students
Professor Deborah Zuercher, second from the right, with graduate students

Deborah Zuercher, Department of Curriculum Studies (EDCS) professor and PACMED program director, received the Dr. Amefil “Amy” Agbayani Faculty Diversity Enhancement Award on May 15, 2020. Given by the UH Mānoa Commission on Inclusion and Diversity, the Agbayani award recognizes a faculty member who is committed to enhancing diversity and furthering the university’s mission of excellence.

“I can’t think of anyone more deserving than Dr. Deborah Zuercher to receive this award,” said EDCS Chair and Professor Patricia Halagao. “Knowing Amy personally and her fight for social justice, Deborah exudes the same passion to advocate for disenfranchised communities. She is caring and committed to empowering Pacific educators by providing quality, rigorous, and culturally sustaining graduate programs that lift themselves up along with their communities.”

With the COE for 15 years, Zuercher began her career in the college as a cohort coordinator and instructor in American Sāmoa. PACMED is an EDCS master’s program with a focus on culturally responsive, Pacific, placed-based STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). Zuercher credits former PACMED Chair Paul Deering with laying the foundation for the program, which began in 1996 as the MSLMED before going fully online in 2009.

“This is a Diversity Enhancement team award, rather than an individual award,” Zuercher explained. “I humbly express appreciation to Professor Paul Deering for his pioneer work in creating an innovative graduate degree program; Program Manager Ivy Yeung; Principal Investigator Laura Laolagi and the instructional team in American Sāmoa; Program Coordinator Sandy Konelios and the instructional team in the Republic of Marshall Islands; Emeritus Professors Joe Zilliox, Neil Pateman, Beth Pateman, and the late Sandy Dawson; and our PREL and PRCC partnerships.”

Zuercher concluded, “Receiving a Diversity Enhancement award means that UH Mānoa values the inclusion of different races and cultures. Given this value, it is important to continue expanding online degree programs for all to access education. I will continue to advocate for more online degree and certificate programs for all Pasifika candidates.”

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