In the photo: President Ann Weaver Hart (center) with recipients of the 2006 Women's Commission Awards on April 25, 2006. Winners are (from left) Sarah Miles, Student Award; Meghann McCluskey, Joyce Gibbs Award; Judy Spiller, Stephanie Thomas Staff Award; and Toni Bisconti, Faculty Award.
Women’s Commission Campus Leaders 2006
Four women were honored for their work on equity and inclusion at the 22nd Annual Women's Commission Awards Ceremony and Celebration on April 25, 2006. Prof. Kerry Kazura, outgoing Chair, 2005-2006, opened the ceremony, introducing President Hart who spoke of the commission’s longstanding status as direct advocates for policy changes and actions toward women’s equity. She traced the year’s accomplishments to include recruitment and retention of faculty across disciplines, the administration of a childcare study, plans for more lactation centers across campus, and the institutionalization of Parental and Family Leave Policy for Operating Staff and Professional and Technical Staff.
Keynote speaker, Judge Kathleen McGuire, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court in Merrimack County, NH, and UNH alumna, praised the university’s advocacy for women, recalling the curfews and dorm sign-in/sign-out requirements imposed on UNH women students through the late 60s.
Focusing on UNH's ability to change young people’s lives for the better, she expressed her gratefulness for the administration’s resourcefulness in helping her and many others in need to attend school here.
Women’s Commission Awards were presented to people who had made outstanding contributions to promoting equity, advancing the status of women, and serving as role models for women on campus including making a difference with individuals, organizations, programs and policies.
The Staff Award, created in honor of former Registrar Stephanie Thomas, a remarkable advocate for women's rights at UNH, was given to a UNH community member who has displayed a long-standing commitment to women's issues and to the mission of the Women's Commission. Award winner, Judy Spiller, Associate Provost of Academic Achievement and Support was described as a champion for the equity of women, as well as for under-represented groups such as the disabled, sexual minorities, and those vulnerable to harassment on the UNH campus. As co-chair of the President’s Commission on the Status of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues, she currently supports inquiries into how the commission can better communicate with other organizations and departments on campus. She has led a group who is reinstituting the Safe Zones program for the GLBTQ population and its allies. She served as chair of the Women’s Commission in 1988 and participates on the Diversity Council.
One nominator said: "I have worked for her I . . . for 10 years, and . . . have seen the tremendous amount of work she has put into this University. She has fought and won domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples on campus, altered the First-Year Orientation program to include more focus on diversity issues and on violence against women prevention. She is a strong supporter of SHARPP (Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program) and has arranged for each orientation staff member to be educated on the issues of sexual harassment and rape on campus."
Student Award winner Sarah Miles was a volunteer for SHARPP, worked with SAGE (Students Advocating Gender Equity), and was a founding member of the grassroots feminist organization, the Women's Union. This connection led her to co-author a Student Senate resolution for the adoption of a code of ethics for student journalists and to participate in the ongoing debate on what freedom of speech is and what crosses the line into sexual harassment.
She had the courage to help create and inspire a women’s issues zine to give voice to the many who felt that they had no voice and to advocate for those who lack affordable housing on campus.
Sarah was recognized for her strong commitment to justice and human rights here and around the world to include her work in Tanzania with Professor Joe Lugalla.
The Faculty Award was given to Toni Bisconti for the ways she has helped change this University: its students, faculty and staff. She co-chaired the President’s Commission on the Status of GLBT Issues in 2004 - 2005, served as academic advisor for Kappa Delta, stood as faculty sponsor to the Alliance, led a workshop for and advised the Planning Committee of UNH’s Transgender Conference, spoke as a panelist at many events concerning diversity issues, and served as faculty advisor to the Undergraduate Psychology Club.
Besides research and teaching, she has contributed to life on campus with her passion for social change expressed through her spirited personality.
The final award, in memory of Joyce Gibbs, senior administrative assistant to the Women's Commission from '91 - '97 and anchor for a wide circle of activists, was won by Meghann McCluskey. Throughout her years at UNH, Meghann has been a valuable political organizer on campus and in the surrounding community around issues concerning women, gender, and sexual orientation. She has voiced her opinions both inside and outside of the classroom, challenging those around her to think deeply about the issues that affect our society.
Through her Carsey Institute Civic Journalism Fellowship at The Portsmouth Herald, she brought attention to issues such as mental health advocacy, funding for the arts, and affordable housing needs.
A member of the Phi Beta Kappa Honor Society, she presented research on issues of GLBTQ concern at the 2006 Undergraduate Research Conference.
In her first year at UNH, she founded UNH Students for Choice. She wrote numerous articles and opinion pieces for The New Hampshire on hot-button topics concerning women and issues of sexual orientation. She was a member of, and avid fundraiser for, the newly formed Women’s Union. She was co-organizer of the annual New Hampshire Transgender Resources for Education and Empowerment Conference (known as NH TREE) and was a representative for the Blue Ribbon Team, a newly formed committee of faculty, staff and students promoting gender identity awareness.
The program concluded by Andrea Ange, incoming co-chair of the Women’s Commission, congratulating the four honorees on this 34th anniversary year of the UNH President’s Commission on the Status of Women.
The mission of the UNH President's Commission on the Status of Women is to create equal educational and employment opportunities for all UNH women by promoting an environment free of sexism and discrimination through policy, advocacy and education.