Jacek Borysow Wins 2024 Bayard Rustin Award

A student hands Jacek Borysow the Bayard Rustin award near a podium.
Jacek Borysow receiving Bayard Rustin award from Jaylen Body (NSBE)

Jacek Borysow, interim physics department chair and professor, has been named the 2024 winner of the Bayard Rustin Award. The National Society of Black Engineers presents this prestigious to faculty or staff who make important behind-the-scenes impacts on campus, especially for underrepresented groups.

“Thank you to the National Society of Black Engineers for this award. Truly, it is the most important award I have ever received. It was given to me by the students and it is named after one of the most outstanding African-American leaders in the movement for nonviolence and civil rights,” said Borysow.

Leading by Example, Lifting Up Others

“Dr. Borysow has been a major contributor to help support Women in Physics (WiP) and is dedicated to encouraging gender minorities to pursue STEM,” shared one nominator. “He has continuously helped WiP, such as helping us find a new advisor and promoting our events to other faculty. His door is also always open to students with questions and concerns. His legacy is filled with leading by example to help lift up everyone in the community.”

Investing in the Future

Even more, Borysow’s commitment goes beyond words. He secured significant funding for WiP which helped to support meaningful student activities, including:

  • Two scholarships for gender minority students
  • A summer fellowship program
  • Travel grants for students attending conferences

He has also provided research grants to undergraduate students, allowing them to gain valuable professional experience before graduation.

Truly, it is the most important award I have ever received.

Jacek Borysow, interim department chair of physics

Opening Doors

Borysow’s vision and drive were also key to bringing the prestigious American Physical Society Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics (CUWiP) to Michigan Tech in 2025. As the director of the Elizabeth and Richard Henes Center for Quantum Phenomena, he provided initial funding and guidance for planning. He worked with WiP at MTU to actively seek campus support to ensure the success of Michigan Tech’s host site proposal.

“Dr. Borysow was the major point of contact in regards to finding other faculty at MTU who would be willing to support organizing CUWiP, both financially and by volunteering,” another nominator noted. “His leadership and dedication were also instrumental in making this conference a reality at MTU.”

A Supportive, Inspiring Mentor

Additionally, Borysow’s unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion has made a big impact on the Michigan Tech physics department. He has created a welcoming environment where all students can thrive. His passion for physics and dedication to mentoring are truly inspiring.

The Bayard Rustin Award fittingly recognizes Borysow’s outstanding contributions as a role model for faculty and students. His legacy will continue inspiring future generations of scientists and engineers.

About the Bayard Rustin Award

The National Society of Black Engineers began awarding the Bayard Rustin Award in 2019 at the Martin Luther King Banquet. This student-nominated award honors a behind-the-scenes servant leader on campus. It publicly recognizes their commitment.

Bayard Rustin was an influential, behind-the-scenes adviser to civil rights leaders. He worked with Dr. King and helped organize key events. In 2013, President Obama posthumously awarded Rustin the Presidential Medal of Freedom.