A West Virginia University extension professor from Hamlin praised by colleagues as a”resilient ally”of minorities has received the Universitys highest honor for social justice advocacy. He will be among those honored at a special Weekend of Honors Convocation ceremony at 7 pm. Friday, April 6, in the Mountainlair ballrooms.

Ric MacDowell, an extension agent for youth development in Lincoln County since 1990, was chosen by the Social Justice Council for his work to create numerous statewide programs and publications addressing diversity.

Equally important, MacDowell has chaired Extension and Public Services Social Justice Committee since 1996, playing a pivotal role in defining social justice issues for Extension, including matters pertaining to religion.

He also has developed regional workshops on conflict management, created the Extension Service Staff Association, written articles on multi-cultural sensitivity and presented talks statewide on matters related to sexual orientation.

“Ric has been an ally in his efforts in learning, respecting and negotiating for members of excluded groups,”said Larry Cote, WVU associate provost and director for Extension and Public Service.”Calling Ric a resilient ally best describes his approach to working on issues that involve social justice, including topics related to socio-economic status, religion and sexual orientation.”

WVU Extension Specialist Florita Stubbs Montgomery said MacDowell is truly an ally, one who goes out of his way to learn about, show respect for, work with and negotiate for excluded parties.

“Resilient ally describes Ric MacDowells approach to tackling social justice issues in his county and around the state,”Dr. Montgomery said.”He is committed to working on behalf of all social justice issues, as he has demonstrated through his long-term membership on, and chairmanship of, WVU Extension ServicesSocial Justice Committee.

“Ric MacDowell could find more comfortable ways to be an Extension faculty member,”Montgomery said,”but true to the definition of an ally, Ric steps out of his comfort zone to put his skills and privileges to work on behalf of those who are excluded from being a part of the majority.”

Devinder Bhumbla, a WVU assistant professor of soil and water, said,”In my experience, I have not known anyone more committed to the issues of social justice than Mr. Ric MacDowell. By honoring Mr. MacDowell with the 2001 Neil Bucklew Award for Social Justice, we will be honoring all that is best in our University.”

MacDowell, originally from Chester, Pa., began his outreach career in 1968 when he served for a year in the Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) program in PutnamCounty.

From 1969-71, he was assistant dean of students at Iowas GrinnellCollege. He was a teacher in Lincoln, Jackson and Putnam counties from 1972-77, and a substitute teacher from 1977-90. He also has been a self-employed photographer since 1974.

MacDowell will receive $2,500, along with significant recognition, for his social justice efforts.

The Neil S. Bucklew Social Justice Award is named for the former WVU president who was a strong social justice advocate.

The Friday night Weekend of Honors Convocation ceremony is just one of many events planned for the weekend. A 3 :30 p.m. Friday Honorary Recognition Ceremony, marking new initiates to campus-wide honoraries, will be held in Woodburn Circle.

Other activities include departmental open houses, tours, banquets and other ceremonies, as well as a World Music Concert Saturday evening.

For more information, call Kathy Kerzak, 304-293-8024.