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Transform’s COVID-19 Updates

The School for Cultural and Social Transformation will have limited operating hours. We are excited to have you lounge and work here, safely. Masks and social distancing are strongly, warmly, definitively encouraged in our space. Welcome back!

 Please follow your professors’ directions on how to best reach them for issues related to coursework.

Monday-Thursday: 9am-4:30pm

Friday: Closed

If you are meeting with a faculty member during a time outside these hours, please coordinate directly with that person.

For ADVISING questions, please contact or schedule a virtual advising appointment at

For GENDER STUDIES questions, concerns, or business contact: or

For ETHNIC STUDIES questions, concerns, or business contact: or

For DISABILITY STUDIES questions, please contact

For PACIFIC ISLANDS STUDIES questions, please contact

Walk-In Advising

Walk-in advising will be held virtually via Zoom. Drop-in advising will be no more than 20 minutes. If more time is needed, please schedule an appointment with Jen Wozab.

These appointments are meant for quick discussions on Fall 2021 registration; connecting with campus resources; and exploring the Ethnic Studies, Gender Studies, and Disability Studies programs.

  • Wednesday, August 18: 1 – 5 p.m. MT
  • Thursday, August 19: 12 – 2:30 p.m. MT
  • Friday, August 20: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. MT
  • Monday, August 23: 1 – 4 p.m. MT
  • Tuesday, August 24: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MT
  • Thursday, August 26: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. MT

Appointments will be added to the system on August 25 for the week of August 30.

Zoom meeting ID: 337 668 6846

After joining the Zoom meeting, please wait in the Waiting Room. The advisor will admit you into the meeting once she is finished advising the previous student. Please keep in mind you may wait for several minutes. We thank you for your patience.

Jen Wozab

Student Support Coordinator & Academic Advisor

jen.wozab@utah.edu801-581-5140Gardner Commons, room 4203 (View map)

2021 Transform Awards & Recognitions

Transformative Teaching Award

Kim Hackford-Peer

Associate Chair, Gender Studies

Dr. Kim Hackford-Peer, associate chair for Gender Studies, is the inaugural recipient of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation’s Transformative Teaching Award. The award recognizes faculty who exhibit excellence in teaching through the use of innovative and transformative pedagogical approaches; inspire critical and creative thinking skills; promote a classroom climate that supports diverse opinions; engages and sustains relationships with students beyond the classroom experience; and applies classroom concepts to real world scenarios, specifically as related to challenging inequality, and advocating for justice.

Dr. Hackford-Peer was presented with this recognition during the School’s convocation ceremony on May 5, 2021.

“This nomination is a long overdue recognition of Dr. KHP’s extraordinary contributions to student experiences in Transform,” says Dr. Wanda Pillow, chair of the Gender Studies division. “Overall, it is crucial to highlight that Kim is not only supportive of and responsive to the needs of a diverse student body, Kim fosters a diverse student body. This work often occurs ‘behind the scene’ and Transform faculty may not be aware that Kim has been and is a primary reason for the richness of student diversity in Transform.”

Dr. Marie Sarita Gayta, chair of the selection committee, says “Dr. Kim Hackford-Peer is a gifted feminist educator who provides transformative teaching experiences to students by developing innovative courses that link theory with real-world applications, by supporting learning environments that include the mentorship of career line faculty and graduate teaching assistants, and by fostering sustained networks that promote undergraduate pathways into Gender and Ethnic Studies.”

Dr. Hackford-Peer skillfully creates and support learning environments for all students, whether in a Business School Gender Studies or a Queer representations course. Indeed, Dr. Hackford-Peer’s popular course “Medusa & Manifestos” is an example of Dr. Hackford-Peer’s student-centered teaching. The course focuses on the development of the process for critical and self-reflective writing as a tool for putting ideas out into the world, by analyzing the ways that socio-historical context and power have an impact on their own social justice work.

Beyond the classroom, “Dr. Hackford-Peer’s generosity is not lost on her colleagues who frequently remark about her ability to provide sound advice on issues ranging from improving online class engagement, designing community-based group projects, or helping connect students to effective campus resources. They also note that she is an unwavering champion for the rights and success of LGBTQI, Disabled, Undocumented, Low-income, and/or, BIPOC students across the University,” says Dr. Gaytan.

The Committee, and the School for Cultural and Social Transformation are honored to recognize Dr. Kim Hackford-Peer as the inaugural recipient of the Transformative Teaching Award.

Graduate School Distinguished Mentor

Wanda Pillow

Professor and Chair, Gender Studies

Dr. Wanda S. Pillow, Gender Studies professor and chair, is one of the 2021 Distinguished Mentor Award recipients, honored by the University of Utah’s Graduate School. The award honors the considerable efforts and accomplishments of faculty who have demonstrated exceptional commitment to the mentorship of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. In addition, the award recognizes faculty who provide intellectual leadership and model a record of excellence in research and ensures that students master the content and skills of their discipline. make a broad impact on mentorship by facilitating communities or building infrastructure for mentorship of graduate students and postdoctoral scholars.

Dr. Pillow “is an artist in the realm of mentor thoughtfulness,” says Dr. Kathryn Stockton, Dean of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. She “is something of an oracle” on the topics of methodology and intersectionality. Her students know and absorb this, and as they pursue their own scholarship, become Dr. Pillow’s intellectual friends.

Dr. Stockton adds: “I’ve seen Wanda’s thoughtful care—her creative inspiration of student thought—up close and personal. I’ve been on committees that Wanda has chaired. She makes us joyous in supporting her students. And teaches us the highest value to embrace: research as relationship.”

Distinguished Scholarly and Creative Research Award

William Smith

Professor, Ethnic Studies & Education, Culture & Society

The Distinguished Research Award (DRA) recognizes outstanding achievements in research by University of Utah tenured faculty. Up to three awards for outstanding achievements in scholarly or creative research are awarded to University of Utah tenured faculty each year. Nominees are evaluated on the impact and significance of their career research or scholarly work to their field, as well as to the improvement and enrichment of the human condition.

“Dr. Smith has honed a wealth of Ethnic Studies and Education expertise. Racial Battle Fatigue, Black Males Studies, Multi-cultural/ethnic Issues in Higher Education, Multi-cultural Counseling, Racial Identity Development, and Student Transition and Persistence. William nails relevance,” says Dr. Stockton, Dean for the School of Cultural and Social Transformation.

This award recognizes Dr. Smith’s pathbreaking work on racial battle fatigue, along with his other scholarly endeavors and comes with a $10,000 grant to further pursue his research interests.

2020-21 Presidential Leadership Fellows

The university launched the Presidential Leadership Fellows Program in 2017, with the first fellow named the following year. The program’s goal is to foster talented, emerging leaders with administrative potential. Fellows engage in the activities and work of the Office of the President and with the President’s Cabinet, with emphasis on their chosen area of interest, over the course of one academic year.

For the 2020-2021 academic year, two of the four selected fellows were School for Cultural and Social Transformation faculty:

Annie Fukushima

Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies

Maile Arvin

Assistant Professor, Gender Studies and History

2020-21 Faculty Teaching Award for Innovation in General Education

Ana Antunes

Assistant Professor (Lecturer), Gender Studies

The Teaching Award for Innovation in General Education recognizes innovative approaches to general education. This year, the committee was most impressed by Dr. Antunes’ commitment to weaving community engaged learning, critical social justice and individualized attention in each of the General Education courses that she teaches. “This kind of integrated, applied, and student facing relevance is exactly the kind of pedagogical experiences that we hope all students will have in their General Education courses,” said Ann Darling, AVP for Undergraduate Studies.

Best Dissertation Prize from The American Political Science Association- Race, Ethnicity and Politics Section

David De Micheli

Assistant Professor, Ethnic Studies and Political Science

Dr. David De Micheli was recognized for his dissertation titled “Back to Black: Racial Reclassification and Political Identity Formation in Brazil.”

Each year, the award recognizes a dissertation that makes an important theoretical contribution to our understanding of historical and/or contemporary processes of racial and ethnic information. In addition, the dissertation addresses critical substantive issues through which racial and ethnic politics are played out.

Irving K. Zola Emerging Scholar Award in Disability Studies

Lezlie Frye

Assistant Professor, Gender Studies and Disability Studies

Dr. Lezlie Frye was one of two winners of the 2020 Irving K. Zola Award for Emerging Scholars in Disability Studies, offered by the Society for Disability Studies. She has won the honor designated for junior scholars, specifically for her essay, “Cripping the ‘Crack Baby’ Epidemic: A Feminist Genealogy,” which was unanimously voted as “best paper” by the Society.

Dr. Frye is also a the recipients of the coveted University of Utah Faculty Fellow Award (2021).

2021 Association for Asian American Studies (AAAS) Book Awards

Maile Arvin

Assistant Professor, Gender Studies and History

Each year, the AAAS recognizes authors and contributors in its Book Awards for titles of merit. Dr. Arvin’s “Possessing Polynesians” won honorable mention in the history category.

Gay/Lesbian/Queer Caucus of the Modern Language Association, Alan Bray Memorial Prize

Darius Bost

Associate Professor, Ethnic Studies

Named in honor of a scholar whose two landmark books have been profoundly influential in gay and lesbian studies, the Bray Award will be given to the best book in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or queer studies in literature and cultural studies, all broadly construed. Dr. Bost was presented with an honorable mention for the 2020 Bray Memorial Prize for his award-winning treatise Evidence of Being: The Black Gay Cultural Renaissance and the Politics of Violence.

NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising, Outstanding Advising Award Certificate of Merit

Jen Wozab

Student Success Coordinator & Advisor

The annual NACADA Outstanding Advising Awards recognize individuals who have demonstrated qualities associated with outstanding academic advising of students or outstanding academic advising administration. As the U’s 2020 Outstanding Experienced Advisor awardee, Jen Wozab was the University of Utah’s nominee for this international recognition. Jen will be recognized at the NACADA 2021 conference in Cincinnati, Ohio.

2021 Outstanding Undergraduate Research Awards

The Outstanding Undergraduate Research awards recognize students who demonstrate a record of sustained commitment to developing research skills and knowledge under the supervision of a faculty mentor. Furthermore, awardees are those who make positive contributions to the research culture of their Department, College, and the University as a whole. We are incredibly proud of our 2021 awardees:

Angela Pham
Gender Studies Major, Psychology Major and Ethnic Studies Minor

Cloe Butler
Gender Studies Major, and Health, Society & Policy Major

Cloe Butler was also selected for the 2021 Monson Prize based on her work “Identity: By Kids, For Kids – A student-centered Zine”, with faculty mentor Ana Antunes. Through this program, Charles H. Monson’s family recognizes an undergraduate student whose research is devoted to the subject of social change.

Transform’s 5th Year Celebration

Join us in celebrating five years of ideas, action, debate, growth, change, advocacy, and more at the School for Cultural and Social Transformation.

In honor of our 5th anniversary, the community is coming together to make an impact, so Transform can continue on its work. Gifts of any size, help forge the wave of the future, for the study of shifting sexualities, changing genders, dynamic immigrations, and emergent struggles against all racist thought and actions.

Your donation will immediately go to work to our three core goals:

  • Innovative Scholarship
  • Coalition Building
  • Practical Expertise

Thank you to those who donate. We appreciate your generosity and thoughtfulness!

Hello Transform Alumni!

We hope you are enjoying your summer so far. We are still celebrating your awesome accomplishments! Please read on for a few alumni-themed housekeeping items.


  • Check out the pictures from our School for Cultural & Social Transform Convocation. The pictures are available to download and keep!  

Cap/Gown Donation

  • If you would like to donate your cap and/or gown for future School for Cultural and Social Transform graduates, you can drop these off in the red box outside the doors of Transform, Gardner Commons, 4200. If you would like a tax donation form (and have your receipt for the purchase), email Jen Wozab. Thank you in advance!

Alumni Contact Form

  • We want to know where you’re going and what you’re doing after graduation. Please take a few minutes to fill out our short Transform Graduate Survey.

Alumni Connection

  • Transform is looking forward to create an Alumni program. More information will be forthcoming.  For now, let us know how we can keep you informed about Transform and campus events like our Disability Studies Lecture, Women’s Week, and more.
  • Join the University of Utah Alumni Association. Membership is FREE and there are great events and resources to stay connected to the U.
  • Connected with our Career Coach, Sarah Kovalesky, for resources in your professional endeavors. You can work with our Career Coach for up to 3 years after graduation! We look forward to creating meaningful interaction with current and future Transform students.

Stay Connected

2021 Convocation Recap

Watch the full livestream of the School for Cultural and Social Transformation Convocation! If you want to jump to a specific convocation speech, click the name of the speaker:

Convocation Photos

Don’t forget to check out the pictures from our School for Cultural & Social Transform Convocation. The pictures are available to download and keep!  

The boundary-pushers and the visionaries

My start in Transform began when I unknowingly took a class that would change my life. I had signed up for Kilo Zamora’s intro to gender studies class. I only took it in the summer to catch up on credits. I went into the class not knowing what to expect because I had not a clue about gender theory, queer theory, feminist theory, or really any theory. At the time, I was a STEM major and I remember Kilo’s teaching methods feeling like a breath of fresh air. I had just failed my first math class and needed something easy that made sense to me so I could boost my confidence before I jumped into my even more math intensive classes. Kilo’s class was definitely not easy. I found myself exploring topics that required every crevice of my brain to dissect, but I realized I actually had a connection with them because I wasn’t just dissecting tedious problems, I was dissecting complex, fascinating human interaction and development—I was dissecting real life. Mid semester, Jen (our advisor), came into our class and felt like the biggest “Yes you can!” I’d heard, so about one month into studying something I’d never even heard of, I was now a double major in atmospheric science and gender studies.

From there, Transform became the place where I could be critical of everyday processes. I could question whether the mundane actually made sense. I could ask “How do we make this better for everyone?” It’s a place for the people who have looked around and been angered by the hurt of the world—the injustices. The place where we’ve been able to determine that we don’t like what’s been placed upon us and have decided to pull and stretch the boxes until they fit just right and then pull and stretch a little more to make room for everyone else. Transform is a home for the boundary-pushers and the visionaries.

Transform is the place where my fellow boundary-pushers and I have come to learn new tools for asking questions and demanding answers. Here we’ve learned that if we don’t like the answers given, we can demand and create new ones for our communities. Transform has taught us how to reflect on the past while bringing inspirations forward, how to support those asking the important questions now, and how to become those people ourselves. We’ve learned how to be critical in the name of forging new pathways, and we’ve learned the importance of carrying the fighters, lovers, and thinkers of the past with us. Transform is the safe space to envision, explore, and get angry. Transform recognizes our anger as passion and teaches the tools to turn passion into organizing and activism. Transform gives us a space to lean on and learn from each other. We all have had a hand in shaping one another’s education.

Transform for me, has been a place of self-discovery and it’s been a landing place for when I fail. I’ve had the privilege of spending the last four years soaking in all the knowledge that my peers and professors would allow. I am forever grateful for even a speck of everyone’s time here and all that I’ve gained from being in your presence. Thank you for being a part of my community and for allowing me to be a part of yours. I am in awe of our resilience over the past year and onward. Thank you for your confidence in me and for being part of my journey. You’ve all shown me what it means to be a changemaker and for that I can say I am a proud, graduated Transform member today. My only hope going forward is that we continue to hold each other in times of sadness and grief and stand with each other in the fight for the future and the present we’ve spent the last four years envisioning and working toward. Again, thank you for being my community and here’s to the fight for a world where pain is not synonymous with any regular day. A world where everyone can live lives full of radical love and abundance. A world where our visions and fights come into fruition.

With whom do we do this work?

“The future is neither an uncritical embrace of the past nor a singular conception of what lies ahead. It’s ours for the imagining.Alondra Nelson

“With whom do we do this work? The theoretical here is immediately practical.Maria Lugones

These quotes focus the meaning of our gathering today. My name is Wanda Sue Pillow and I am honored to speak as Professor and Chair of Gender Studies. As Graduates of the School for Cultural & Social Transformation, you have each committed to reimaging futures by engaging with intense coursework in Ethnic, Disability, Gender, and Pacific Islands Studies. You have read about and analyzed the imbrications of race, gender, sexuality, class, colonialism, and status; learned about formations and experiences of identities; structures of dispossession; technologies of power; critiques of purity logics, ableism, patriarchy, and whiteness; and studied equality, equity, and accessibility.

“With whom do we do this work?”

Lugones’ question is key to every Transform course. We utilize the strong analytics of race, gender, sexuality, disability, decolonial, abolitionist, queer, and crip theories; we learn about micro and macro aggressions; study social movements; read and reread Women of Color, Chicana, Indigenous, and Black Feminisms. With whom do we do this work? We do it relationally; you have learned to move theory into praxis in zoom meetings, Diversity Scholars, University and Community partnerships, Gender Justice Scholars, Gender on the Hill, the Utah Prison Education Program, and in course papers, projects, podcasts, ‘zines, digital technologies, and performances. We have gained inspiration from theorists who push us to “imagine otherwise” and activist scholars who remind us that first, this work is our responsibility, and second, as Pat Parker notes: “Revolution is not neat, or pretty, or quick. It is a long dirty process.”   

Perhaps at no other time in your educational career have your studies mattered more. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed the world, however a call to ‘return to normal’ is not our goal. Disparities in infrastructure, housing, clean water and food stability, medical and education access, safety from state violence including separation of children from families and the killing of Black & Brown persons by state-sanctioned police have come into heightened view during a global pandemic. Yet, these disparities were not caused by a virus; these injustices are pre-existing conditions. Perhaps, like myself, you chose to study Ethnic, Disability, Gender, or Pacific Island Studies because you’ve witnessed disparities, violences, and resistance, or you’ve been repeatedly told “you do not fit,” or perhaps you are here because you see injustice and feel a call to participate in and lead change.                     

“With whom do we do this work?”

Transform was created out of this question. The School is a vision and an honoring of interdisciplinarity, intersectionality, and recognition that who we do our work with matters. So what is a degree in Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies? What is a degree or certificate in Transform? It is learning the analytics to understand and change the world; it is learning and practicing how to be in relation with each other differently; it is learning how to survive and intervene in a world that is not making sense or is telling us that we don’t belong. And as Transform students you have learned that this work is needed everywhere.

Graduates of 2020 and 2021, thank you for committing to transformational change. You completed coursework and assignments under extraordinary circumstances and harsh conditions—the fact that you are here today is a reason to celebrate and honor each of you! And we are here to commend and celebrate you! The faculty and School see you, are here for you, and support wherever you choose to take the work. Dr. Edmund Fong’s 2019 graduation comments ring true today and I repeat them here: “When you soar so we will sing–however impossibly high the notes may be. And when you struggle, we will embrace you so that you may rekindle your resolve and your desire. And if you are lost, we will be here to gather you…”

Remember your peers, your readings, your faculty, your familias, your communities—and “do your work” with acts of “festive joy and resistance.” A degree or certificate in Transform IS an act of transformational resistance and reimaging—and the world needs the analytics, relationality, and praxis you have studied and enacted. You are each ready to move toward futures we not only imagine but need and are ready to live in. Claim that knowledge and space when you walk across this stage this evening.

Congratulations Transform graduating classes of 2020 and 2021!

To Gether

Welcome (truly, welcome!) each and every one of you. It’s amazing to be in your bodily company.

We’re thrilled that you’re here.

Who are we that are thrilled? What is this School for Cultural and Social Transformation? (Anyone here may still be asking that—as the School is about to turn five years old.) Well, I have been saying, and I still believe it:

If you take the coolest dance troupe, wed it to a protest, link it to a book club that reads the hippest books, and make it sing with fiery joy—a joy that breaks barriers, confronts institutions, soothes wounds, cracks jokes, dresses rad, and calls things what they are—you have TRANSFORM: the School for Cultural and Social Transformation. It’s as if galactic performer Beyoncé and political leader Cesar Chavez and race/sex comedian Margaret Cho and trans-disability theorist Eli Clare and indigenous lands activist LaDonna Brave Bull Allard with immigration activist Marisa Franco and author Oscar Wilde all got together—and had a brainchild. We are it.

And together we gether. (Now you might be saying: Yikes, the dean misspoke.  She meant to say “gather” but instead said “gether.”) No, I mean it. “Gether” is a word I wish to coin. I want it as a verb. “To gether” shall mean: “to sense and acknowledge often unperceived gatherings.” (I’m sick of the phrase “we’re in this together.” It’s a throwaway platitude.  Togetherness is not yet earned in many settings. I want the verb “to gether” to carry true edge.)

There’s something we say, whenever we gather, so as to gether Indigenous gatherings. Listen as I share the University of Utah’s land acknowledgment, which needs to be a living, moving gethering on which we all will act. We as a University state:

“Given that the Salt Lake Valley has always been a gathering place for Indigenous peoples, we acknowledge that this land, which is named for the Ute Tribe, is the traditional and ancestral homelands of the Shoshone, Paiute, Goshute, and Ute Tribes and is a crossroad for Indigenous peoples.”

I give a shortened version so we really will receive it: this has always been the place of Indigenous gathering—and it is a crossroad, at this very moment. What would it mean to gether this point? Here’s one suggestion: join, or at least gain understanding of, Land Back! initiatives. (Professor Charles Sepulveda, Professor Thomas Swensen, are experts in our midst.  Read their work.) This would be one powerful way to sense and acknowledge—and act on!—these often unperceived gatherings on this land.

But unperceived by whom? How can such powerful, world-shaping gatherings go unnoticed by anyone standing on this exact land? Well, how could anyone say last summer, “I just didn’t realize what Black people go through, living in this country”? Think of what it took (!)—what had to be seen (!)—to get a mass of people in this country to notice: it took a murder, caught on camera by a steady young woman, her one phone holding all that pain, so as to return it to George Floyd’s family and the nation at large. (And, on other fronts, it took #MeToo flowing into #SayHerName; it took spa deaths; kids in cages; trans kids banned from kindergarten sports.) Our country’s ability not to gether—not to perceive what has long been gathering—is the greatest shock. And there’s still the tendency to think that “acknowledgment” doesn’t have to touch me.    

Which leads me to the virus….What did it reveal? It lit up all the pathways to and from each other. Not that we could see them. We couldn’t see the virus entering someone’s body. But we knew profoundly that even glancing contact with another body could dramatically alter our fate or—through us—someone else’s fate.

Imagine if we could “contact trace” the effects of racist or sexist or queer-phobic acts against one body in relation to another.  Imagine if you could really grasp how hate—or embrace!—shown toward someone you momentarily encounter is affecting you—or passing through you to affect another. The virus has revealed how we’re wildly webbed with each other’s bodies.  (Health policies and the lowly mask acknowledge this webbing.) The space between us is a mystical, material place of gathering, where we are not solely ourselves. So much so that even our own deepest emotions are gathered by others and returned to us.

What do I mean? Here’s a line from novelist Marguerite Duras: “Inside you there are sobs you can’t explain. They linger on the brink of you, as if they were outside. They can’t reach you and be wept.” I began to grasp this line one year ago yesterday when my father died COVID-positive in the hospital. Like so many other people in this country, I could not be with him, nor could my mother, and I couldn’t be with her. People who were not my bio-family stood at the brink of me, gathering my sobs which I couldn’t fully fathom. It was like having someone hold my heart so it could go back inside me.

Let me end by saying: Like you, our highly impressive students, we are devoted to learning to gether: to sense and acknowledge often unperceived gatherings: on this land, in our skins, through our sex and our genderings.  Entire systems, as we’ve together studied, sit in that strange space between us. They sit on the little ant-like words that carry systems and powerfully confound us: “man,” “woman,” “Black,” “white,” “Latinx,” “queer,” “trans,” “Pacific Islander,” “Indigenous,” and “Asian American”—you name it.

We will spend our lives learning to gather all that must be returned to each other—differentially, and with all due acknowledgment. Land Back! is one powerful example: study it, open it, see what it might mean. 

And turn this dynamic strongly toward the positive. Our dear students, let those of us outside of you, at your brink, be part of returning what-you’ve-gathered-here to you.

We literally gether in your name.

Apply for a Transform Internship!

Transform is excited to announce our 2021-2022 academic year internship program. We partner with community and campus organizations to provide students with the following opportunities:

  • Put your gender studies and ethnic studies training into practice
  • Learn about organizations that value Transform students and knowledge
  • Help you determine what are can do with your degree
  • Earn academic credit
  • Gain experience that will aid you in the job market and in applications for graduate school
  • Learn from other student interns about their experiences

And so much more!!