Dr. Denis M. Provencher, Professor of French and Francophone studies, received the top faculty honor for 2021-22 at the University’s Inclusive Excellence Awards Ceremony.
Provencher was awarded the Richard Ruiz Diversity Leadership Faculty Award, which recognizes faculty members who are working to make the UA a more diverse and inclusive campus. Provencher is the third College of Humanities recipient since the award was created in 2015, following Alain-Philippe Durand, who received the award in 2017, and Ana Cornide in 2016.
“I am humbled and honored to be the recipient of this year’s Richard Ruiz Diversity Leadership Faculty Award and I am in excellent company given the list of previous awardees,” Provencher said. “The work of diversity, equity, and inclusion is not accomplished by one individual. It requires a daily commitment from all of us and it is because of the faculty, staff, and students in the College of Humanities and across the university as well as the LGBTQ populations that I have worked with over the years that this award is possible and why it is so meaningful to me.”
The annual Peter W. Likins Inclusive Excellence Awards were established to recognize students, staff and faculty-led programs that enhance the University of Arizona through their inclusive programming and/or leadership.
“In Dr. Provencher’s impressive work as a department head, he defined his role as an administrator always with one foot among the faculty, another among university administrators, and his heart always with students and the communities within and beyond the academy. To my way of thinking—as a dean and as a scholar—this is a perfect blend of attributes for an engaged intellectual, someone who is able to quickly adapt, respond, and collaborate with people regardless of their rank or station,” wrote Durand, Dorrance Dean of the College of Humanities, in nominating Provencher.
In Provencher’s research related to the queer French diaspora, he has been able to build entire networks of trust throughout North Africa among people whose queer identities often meant their lives were in jeopardy, Durand wrote, describing Provencher’s capacity to speak and write about his research subjects as an “empathic fierceness.”
“Time and again, Dr. Provencher has demonstrated in cases like this the tremendous sensitivity, intercultural respect, and scholarly reciprocity that an award such as the Richard Ruiz Diversity Leadership Faculty Award was designed to promote,” he wrote.
“He has changed the lives of the hundreds of people and dozens of communities with whom he has worked over the years, queer migrant people of color who have been invisibilized (or worse) by the dominant cultures within which they live. The work Dr. Provencher has done for the past twenty-plus years to hear them, advocate for them, and help tell their stories to the wider world has undoubtedly changed many lives and positively influenced many neighborhoods, families, and organizations.”
Provencher arrived at the University in 2016 as Head of the Department of French & Italian, a position he held for five years. He has also served as Interim Director of the UA Institute for LGBT Studies, and was selected for both the UA Academic Leadership Institute and the UA Inclusive Leadership Program. He is editor in chief of the journal Contemporary French Civilization (CFC) and the new journal CFC Intersections, and co-editor of the book series Modern & Contemporary France, all published by the Liverpool University Press.
“Dr. Provencher is collegial, adaptable, sensitive, smart, collaborative, imaginative, and entrepreneurial, and his default approach to meeting new people is one of excitement and warmth. A better ambassador for diversity, equity, and inclusion is hard for me to imagine, and a better translator to American audiences of his international experiences would be challenging to find,” Durand wrote.