PULLMAN, Wash. – Four women have received the 2004 Washington State University Women of Distinction Award and will be honored with presentations by President V. Lane Rawlins at the Women’s Recognition Luncheon Thursday March 25 in the Compton Union Building Ballroom.

The 2004 Women of Distinction – each of whom is eligible to be named WSU Woman of the Year – are Beverly B. McConnell, WSU alumna; Mary Sanchez-Lanier, WSU faculty member; Marta Maria Maldonado, a doctoral student in sociology at WSU; and Patsy Martin Whitefoot, a member of the WSU Native American Advisory Board.

Coordinated by the university’s Commission on the Status of Women, this year’s awards program is being conducted with the theme “Women – Inspiring Hope and Possibility” in order to recognize the hope and sense of possibility that arises from the inspirational work of women. To be considered for the award, candidates had to distinguish themselves in academic work, career, leadership and public service. Also, each had to contribute to the personal growth and success of others, especially women, through education, research, and public or volunteer service.

Named outstanding WSU alumna, Beverly McConnell holds both a doctorate in educational measurement and a master’s degree in child development from WSU. Since the mid1960s, she has shown tireless devotion to the plight of migrant worker families through grant writing, program management, political activities, educational consulting and government and community service. Her contributions began when McConnell secured grant funding from the state Office of Economic Opportunity to create two non-profit organizations. The first, Washington Citizens for Migrant Affairs, initiated a demonstration project that established mobile child care units for migrant worker families in nine locations across the state. The other, Washington State Migrant Education, provided adult education and self-help housing programs for migrant workers. With the founding of Head Start, McConnell worked for the establishment of that program’s Indian and Migrant Division, before going on to help revise state child-care licensing regulations for the benefit of migrant families. She served also on the governor’s committee on Migrant Labor and has received widespread recognition for her research and education curriculum development work on behalf of the families of migrant laborers.

Selected as outstanding female employee at WSU, Mary Sanchez-Lanier joined the Department of Microbiology in 1990. She now serves as the associate dean of the College of Sciences and as director of the department’s advising office and U-DOC pre-college health science program. She holds a doctorate in medical sciences form the School of Medicine at the University of New Mexico and has received national recognition for her commitment to undergraduate education, as evidenced by numerous requests for her participation on selection committees and review panels. Respected as a student advocate, conflict mediator, and as an effective recruiter of minority undergraduates to the sciences, Sanchez-Lanier has served as an adviser to Chicano/Lantina groups, while working to provide equal access to the College of Sciences through the creation of a single scholarship application process. She remains in direct contact with students by teaching to excellent reviews in several programs and advising between 10 and 40 undergraduates annually.

Chosen outstanding female student at WSU, Marta Maldonado earned an master’s degree in sociology from WSU in 1996 and is currently completing her doctorate. She excels in her work as graduate student coordinator with the Office of Grant and Research Development and has been instrumental in forging and maintaining partnerships with the graduate school and Graduate and Professional Student Association. Maldonado has coordinated grant-writing workshops for faculty, administrators, students and leaders of non-profit organizations outside the university. She has been an active member of the WSU Research and Arts Committee. She is known for her dedication to the task of obtaining funding to support the work of graduate students at WSU, the enthusiasm with which she approaches her work, and her ability to connect with students, faculty, and administrators at all levels within the university.

Patsy Whitefoot, who was named the outstanding woman outside WSU, holds a master’s degree in education from Fort Wright College and has made outstanding contributions to WSU through her work in the Plateau Center for American Indian Studies, Native American Advisory Board to the President, and her support of Native American student programs in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and the Department of Teaching and Learning. For the past 30 years, Whitefoot has been a voice for American Indian education, working to improve access to educational opportunities and health care for Native Americans of all ages. She has been a teacher, counselor and preschool principal in the public school system and a tribal school superintendent. Her contributions have been recognized numerous times through awards from organizations such as the Washington State Indian Education Association, which honored Whitefoot in 1995 with both its Educator of the Year and President’s awards. She has been named an outstanding alumna by Heritage College, where she has served on the Board of Directors since 1991.