University-wide Staff Awards
The 2010 Social Justice Award
Diversity programming is more than listening to a speaker or lighting a candle. It's about social change. At UNH, as director of Diversity Programs, JerriAnne Boggis makes history. The programs she creates are powerful, noticed, yet social and engaging.
She brings renowned speakers to campus for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. This weeklong celebration includes workshops, panel discussions, and informal interactions with students. She organizes the annual Black New England Conference and the Diversity Banquet, which recognizes and celebrates those who champion diversity and inclusive excellence at UNH. She also teaches for women's studies and mentors students.
“I work to raise awareness of how people see and understand those who are different from them,” Boggis says. “These programs are a chance for intellectual dialogue, and they're about taking action.”
In 2007, Boggis was awarded the state Commission on the Status of Women's 11 th Annual Recognition Award; in 2009, she was appointed to the U.S. Commission Civil Rights N.H. Advisory Committee.
Prior to her work at UNH, Boggis founded, and continues to direct, the Harriet E. Wilson Project in Milford, N.H. Wilson was the first African American woman to publish a novel, Our Nig , in 1859.
In an essay entitled, “Not Somewhere Else, But Here,” Boggis eloquently describes her transformation after reading this “forgotten” novel by a black woman who was born and raised in Boggis's hometown of Milford. Her essay begins: “I had always planned to move.”
Under Boggis's direction, the project has erected a statue to honor Wilson, staged events and a play, and established a Black History Trail that traces stops on the Underground Railroad and Wilson's difficult journey.
Jamaica-born Boggis concludes her essay noting that she is now “very involved in the town of Milford, this state of New Hampshire that is my husband's [and our two sons] . . . I have learned that the history I have craved is not somewhere else, but here.”
-- Carrie Sherman '76
-- photo by Lisa Nugent
The 2010 UNH Women's Commission Stephanie Thomas Staff Award
If there's one thing visitors remember about Erica Johnson, director of the UNH InterOperability Laboratory, it's not that she's a successful woman in a field traditionally dominated by men. It's that she demonstrates a rare mix of business acumen and an in-depth understanding of complex computer networking technology.
Founded in 1988, the lab she oversees is one of the nation's leading facilities for testing networking and data communications products. That means Johnson interacts daily with high-tech industry giants, and UNH faculty and students alike.
The lab employs more than 80 undergraduate and 10 to 20 graduate students at any one time. In fact, it has more graduate students working on research than any single department on campus.
One result: Students working in the prestigious lab enjoy high job placement and above entry-level pay in the field.
"Providing opportunities for students to grow is a huge part of what I find most rewarding about my job,” Johnson says. “I also take their career aspirations very seriously. I tell them, ‘If you want a position in computer networking, I will get you a job.' ”
In addition to her busy job, Johnson has served on the UNH Strategic Planning Steering Committee, co-led the working group that included the UNH Office of Sustainability, and collaborated with the Green Chemistry Demonstration Center initiative. She has also worked tirelessly to promote women in the sciences.
“I'm very proud that the percent of women working in IOL during my tenure has doubled,” Johnson says.
-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Mike Ross
The 2010 Joyce Gibbs Award
Ask Tricia Hanley about her biggest accomplishments during her 22 years with UNH, and her response invariably begins with the word: “We.”
By nature and avocation, Hanley is a collaborator who thrives on bringing together people and diverse communities to promote equality and advance the status of women.
“We're part of the University community, and we need to be change agents within the community,” says Hanley, a counseling psychologist and the associate director and training director at the Counseling Center.
Her work at the center includes survivors of sexual assault, sexual harassment, relationship abuse, and stalking. And when the University formed the first Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) in 2005, Hanley became the center's representative, helping advance SART's mission “to insure consistent, sensitive, and effective responses to all who experience sexual assaults within our community.”
At the center, Hanley oversees an internship program in professional psychology for doctoral degree candidates from across the country and a new fellowship program for doctoral professionals completing their last year of training prior to licensure. With the support of Hanley's hard work, the internship program achieved accreditation from the American Psychological Association, and the center has built a national reputation for excellence.
In addition to training and management duties, Hanley continues to serve as an on-call clinical psychologist.
“We have a really great group of dedicated professionals here, and being part of that is one of the things that's kept me here,” Hanley says.
-- Jim Graham
-- photo by Perry Smith
The 2010 UNH Professional Advising Award
For many undeclared first year students, the downside to choosing a major is losing Sarah Spates '06 as their adviser.
“Many ask if she can still be their adviser, even though they are declared,” says Judy Spiller, the University's associate provost for academic achievement and support. “That's the best testament to Sarah's skill.”
As an undergraduate psychology major, Spates worked in the College of Liberal Arts dean's office, answering phones and interacting with high school students who were considering UNH. Realizing she not only enjoyed those exchanges but also had a real aptitude for providing guidance, she jumped when a position opened at the University Advising and Career Center shortly after her graduation.
Assigned to the all-freshman Alexander Hall, she works one-on-one with undeclared students to help them come up with the best academic plan to fit their interests and aspirations, and to assure them that any major comes with a breadth of options.
“I love the fact that I may meet with five different students who all want to declare the same major, each with their own unique reason or goal,” she says. “Encouraging this sense of individualism is what makes my day-to-day far from routine.”
Spates balances her advising duties with her role as a coordinator for the University's PrOVES program, which provides first year-students with community service opportunities in the Seacoast area that help them develop leadership skills. Remarkably, she also finds time to continue her own studies. Currently pursuing her master's degree in public administration at UNH, she is only one requirement away from receiving her degree.
Perhaps it is this immediate connection to student life that makes Spates such a compelling and successful adviser. Her knowledge of the University community, activities, and student organizations, and her connection to individuals within departments and residence halls allows her to open to her advisees a wide world of opportunities—academic and otherwise—at UNH.
-- Kristin Duisberg
-- photo by Erin Gleason
The 2010 President's Excellence Through Diversity Award
Sean McGhee's personal mantra comes in the form of a quote from the 20th century African American writer James Baldwin: “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
As director of the University's Office of Multicultural Student Affairs (OMSA), McGhee has been facing some of the most important issues regarding life at UNH for more than a decade, helping to work toward a community where students of diverse races, cultures, genders, and sexual orientations are included and valued. By helping to bring greater visibility and synthesis to the campus's diversity efforts and expanding the definition of multiculturalism to be more inclusive, McGhee has played one of the leading roles in advocating for a more diverse UNH student body over the past 10 plus years.
“It takes an entire university to truly support its students,” McGhee says. “The University has been able to attract more underrepresented students and provide better support to the students who come here because the work we do in OMSA is part of a larger on-going effort to make UNH a more inclusive learning/living community. And there is always much more work to be done.”
A recipient of the 2006 staff excellence Social Justice Award, McGhee with his staff developed the MLK Student Leadership Summit, which will soon celebrate its 10th anniversary, and recently co-founded the New Hampshire Multicultural Student Affairs Consortium to address diversity in higher education at the state level. Since 1999, the student of color population on the UNH campus has more than doubled, from 2.5 percent to 6.7 percent.
Centrally involved in many of the University's diversity efforts, McGhee gives credit to his colleagues and especially to the many students who come to OMSA looking for support. McGhee says, “Many of the students have used the tools they've developed to become incredible leaders at UNH and beyond.”
Says one, “He expects us to put our hearts and souls into whatever we do. Then he gives us that little push, and we are surprised at what we can achieve.”
-- Kristin Duisberg
-- photo by Erin Gleason