Author, teacher Bucher to get human relations award from commission

Honoree was a founder of anti-bias panel

March 17, 2002|By Jennifer Schildroth | Jennifer Schildroth,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Author and professor Richard D. Bucher, a founding member of the Carroll County Human Relations Commission, will be given that group's 2002 Human Relations Award tomorrow night for his dedication to combating discrimination.

"We try to pick people who have tried to promote human relations above and beyond what most people would do," said Virginia Harrison, the commission's chairwoman.

The volunteer commission selected Bucher, author of Diversity Consciousness: Opening Our Minds to People, Cultures and Opportunities, noting his numerous speeches, lectures and other efforts throughout the community regarding the importance of diversity.

Bucher, of Mount Airy, has taught sociology for 28 years at Baltimore City Community College. He said two things led him to consider diversity issues: his teaching and his autistic son, Jimmy.

Bucher began his life relatively unexposed to racial diversity. He graduated from Colgate University and began his teaching career at a fairly homogeneous community college.

When Bucher took a teaching position at BCCC, a school known for its significant minority population, he began to think differently about diversity. As an exercise in class, Bucher recalls asking each student to list his or her goals in life. One of his students wrote that his first goal was to live past age 25.

"That's something I don't think of. ... It sensitizes me to a whole realm of life that, if it weren't for my teaching, I wouldn't see," said Bucher.

Bucher was named the Maryland Professor of the Year by the Carnegie Foundation for Advancement of Teaching in 2000.

He founded and served as the first director for the Institute for Intercultural Understanding at BCCC.

Bucher "is a caring man. He cares about humanity as a whole. He takes the issue of diversity seriously. He would like people to be more conscious of our diversity ... and not take for granted what people bring to the table," said fellow BCCC Professor Solomon Iyobosa Omo-osagie, director of the institute from 1999-2001.

Jimmy, Bucher's son who is in his 20s, has also brought new perspective into the professor's life.

"That whole experience of being the father of a son with autism, there is a daily kind of eye-opening, sensitizing experience that just deepens your consciousness. Jimmy has brought the whole idea of consciousness home for me, personalized it," said Bucher.

While Bucher recognized that Carroll County is not as racially diverse as much of the Baltimore area, he stressed the importance of addressing diversity issues in all parts of the country.

"We live in our culturally encapsulated environments. The commission tries to broaden that," Bucher said.

The commission was established 12 years ago by the county to address human relation conflicts.

Members of the commission predominantly help Carroll residents handle claims of discrimination.

The awards dinner is the 10th to honor outstanding individuals embodying the goals of the organization.

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