Group of Black Student Union members surround Laurence Parker

Leaving a legacy

Every year, executive board members of the U’s Black Student Union select a Black faculty or staff member who has played a crucial role in their experience on campus. This year, the 10th annual Legacy Award went to Laurence Parker, an associate dean in the Honors College and a professor in the Department of Educational Leadership & Policy.

“Dr. Larry Parker is a major and integral part of the faculty composition of the University of Utah,” said Sig Ferguson, a resident director for the Marriott Honors Community. “As an expert across many subjects, Parker has been able to make significant contributions, both inside and outside of the classroom, taking critical race theory to a new level and making race issues a priority for white colleagues and students so Black students and students of color can begin to see equity and opportunity in higher education institutions.”

Throughout his career, Parker has published in many journals such as Race, Ethnicity & Education, Urban Education and Educational Administration Quarterly. He is a 2013 Derrick Bell Legacy Award winner from the Critical Race Studies in Education Association and is an active member of associations such as the American Educations Research Association. He has also worked with colleagues on campus to secure Eccles Foundation funding to support the African American Doctoral Scholars Initiative.

Over the past 10 years at the U, he has taught classes on critical race theory for the Honors College and a yearlong seminar on student leadership and community engagement for first-generation diversity students for the Office of Undergraduate Studies.

In a ceremony on Jan. 31, 2020, several students expressed their gratitude toward Parker and his work to disrupt the normalization of failure for students of color and other marginalized groups on campus.

“Dr. Parker is a professor who pushes all of us,” said Christa Ishimwe, a junior majoring in health society and policy and environmental and sustainability studies. “He challenges all of us to be the greatest we can be, to push past our boundaries and step into our greatness. He has been a champion for every student on this campus, especially students that look like me. He is our biggest supporter and our loudest cheerleader, and we know that whenever we need him, we can always count on him.”

The BSU’s Annual Legacy Banquet is a fundraiser as well as an event to recognize the hard work of Black students, staff and faculty at the U.