Six women will receive the 2009 WSU Women of Distinction awards and will be honored with presentations by President Elson S. Floyd during the Women’s Recognition Luncheon beginning at noon March 11 in the CUB ballroom.
Doors will open at 11 a.m. Anita Hill, lawyer, scholar and civil rights activist, will be the keynote speaker. During the luncheon, the Woman of the Year – chosen from among the Women of Distinction – will be announced.
Tickets to the event are $25 per person and are available at the Women’s Resource Center, Wilson 8. More information can be obtained by contacting Kim Barrett at 335-4386.
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 outstanding volunteer service.
The 2009 Women of Distinction are:
* Lori Carris, a faculty member in the Department of Plant Pathology, a pioneer in her field and a role model for many women. As one of her nominators said, “Distinguished within her own discipline, she has fostered the personal and professional growth of other WSU women through the many hours she has expended mentoring students and colleagues.”
She has advocated for expansion of childcare options and has been a strong force in the Association of Faculty Women, as well as serving on many committees that further the cause of women at WSU. She is well known for her willingness to go above and beyond expectations in assisting students to realize their full potential; she has been awarded an Outstanding Mentor of the Year award.
She has, again in the words of her nominator, “demonstrated her leadership in promoting, supporting and sustaining a diverse community of students throughout her 20-year career at Washington State University.”
* Theresa Schulz Norris, A WSU alumna and former employee. She has, in her nominators’ words “changed the lives of literally thousands of our planet’s poorest, forgotten people in many of the remotest parts of the world, and used her own resources to finance many of the projects.”
In 1999, she founded the nonprofit organization Women’s Enterprises International (WEI). Water, education and income are the three basic needs addressed by WEI, which forms partnerships with women in Kenya, Benin, Indonesia, Guatemala and Bolivia. Because of WEI, 6,000 people have clean drinking water, nearly 500 children have been able to attend school and 19 young women have had an opportunity to attend college.
As her nominator says, “She is creating hope where there was none and role models of success for younger generations. And she has done all of this while honoring the customs and beliefs of each community — and has done it all as a volunteer”.
* Margo Tamez, a poet, activist, mother, instructor and graduate student in the American Studies program at WSU. She is also the co-founder of the Lipan Apache Women (El Calaboz) Defense, a land-based indigenous people’s organization recognized by the United Nations.
She is nationally and internationally recognized for her work in calling attention to the violent effects on indigenous women and families of the fence being built along the U.S.-Mexico border. She is well known for her poetry, having won awards from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Tucson Pima Arts Council and others.
Her nominator said “Margo Tamez is a woman of distinction in her activism and creative work, which call attention to the struggles of all women against the violence of racism and sexism.”
* Heidi Stanton, who is described by her nominator as “a quiet hurricane, asserting change and giving voice through her advocacy, role modeling and art”. She is working on her doctorate, but she began her career at WSU working in Residence Life while earning her masters’ degree.
Her advocacy for underrepresented populations soon got her recruited to work for what is now GEISORC (the Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation Resource Center). Her tireless willingness to build bridges to all the WSU campuses eventually led to her being named interim assistant dean of students during the past year.
Her passion for helping students has taken her back to GIESORC, where she has organized many conferences and events and has worked to improve policies and procedures to assist all students in a successful experience at WSU.
Her quiet way of addressing challenges, promoting respect for others and working to build a collaborative campus is truly what makes her a woman of distinction.
* Gladys Jennings, the first woman of color to receive a masters’ degree from WSU. She taught at Syracuse University and North Carolina College, and waschair of the Home Economics Department at Spellman College. She returned to WSU in 1966 as a professor in food science and continued to teach even after her retirement in 1991.
Her nominator said “she has devoted her career to the promotion of health through nutrition and safe food. In the process, she has taught, mentored and guided hundreds of undergraduates, graduate students and colleagues through the WSU system.”
She chaired the University Committee on Minority Scholarships, and has been a successful recruiter for minority students. The library in the Talmadge Anderson Heritage House is named in her honor, and many students of color at WSU have had the honor of being personally congratulated at graduation by Jennings.
* Joan.O’sa Oviawe, a doctoral student in the College of Education specializing in cultural studies and social thought in education. She teaches a diversity class, serves on the Student Conduct board, is the employment liaison for the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and is a representative to GPSA.
Oviawe is also chair-elect for the national Research on Caribbean and African Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association, and is the founder of the Africa Special interest Group of the Comparative and International Education Society.
She has been asked to present at national and international conferences and has taken a leadership role in the Capacity Building Initiative for Scholars in Africa. She also has acted on her passion for making a difference in the global community by founding a nonprofit organization, the Grace Foundation, built on the principles of community-building and self-sufficiency through education, participatory action and accountability.