2007 Award Winners
Women’s Commission Campus Leaders 2007
On March 28, the Women's Commission presented awards to individuals who had made outstanding contributions to promoting equity, advancing the status of women, and serving as role models in our campus community.
Interim President J. Bonnie Newman opened the ceremony with a quotation by former women's studies program director, Cathryn Adamsky, who died in March of this year. In a 1985 Campus Journal article, Adamasky was quoted as saying, “The women's movement doesn't need martyrs; it needs good, strong women, who live to a ripe, old age.”
President Newman described Adamsky's advocacy for women's research and writing to become part of the mainstream and recalled Adamsky's words: “If it's relevant, it must be assimilated. It's Not ‘add women and stir'. We're asking people to take a new look at the world.”
Newman sited the work of the women's commission as it continues to work for equity. She said, “I am pleased to report that, this year, the commission has worked on compiling the Executive Summary for the Child Care Study Report; presented a lactation policy for review by human resources; responded to a plea for affordable family housing on campus; supported and responded to The Unwanted Sexual Experiences Survey Report; held dialogues on bias incidents in the residence halls; and collaborated across campus on programs that educate and build awareness.
“We appreciate the hard work and persistence involved in commission work and the ways that we continue to create environments free from sexism and discrimination in this community.”
The keynote speaker addressed the audience of over 80 campus staff, students and community members. Donna Freitas, Professor of Religious Studies and Gender at St. Michael's College in Vermont and visiting research faculty at Boston University spoke about the importance of knowing the history of women's rights, the meaning of feminism, and how knowledge of the past gives women strength to achieve their personal and professional goals.
Susan Varn, who attended the event, was reminded of the Feminist Health Center buttons reading feminist = equality, feminist = respect, feminist =choice. She and her colleagues created them to help educate people about what it means to be a feminist. She said, “I agree about the generation gap. I appreciate the reminder to stand tall!”
Recipients of the 2007 Women's Commission Awards were remembered for their depth and breadth of contributions to promoting equal educational opportunities for women by
- increasing the status of women
- serving as role models for women on campus
- making a difference with individuals, organizations, programs and policies.
Chair of the commission, Eleanor Hight presented the 2007 Women's Commission Faculty Award to Robin Hackett , Professor of English, dedicated to the topic of women's writing, enlightening students on the diversity of women's lives and struggles. One of her students wrote, “ I am grateful for teachers like Dr. Hackett who open our eyes to the historical and present realities women face. I think educating students about women's issues is a vital part of . . . advancing the status of women.”
Another wrote: “I take her classes because of her commitment to synthesizing issues of sexuality and gender-- with those of race and class.”
Her first book was Sapphic Primitivism: Productions of Race, Class, and Sexuality in Key Works of Modern Fiction . Her next major project is a volume that she has co-edited with Freda Hauser. Its title is At Home and Abroad in the Empire: British Women Write the Thirties . This collection will be a groundbreaking achievement in making visible the ways in which women writers of the 1930s were actively engaged with political issues and, through their writing, participated in the major intellectual movements of the time.
Of particular importance to both the English Department and the Queer Studies Emphasis Program, Robin developed a 700-level special topics course that she titled “Gay and Lesbian Writing, Queer Reading.”
She is also Core Faculty in Women's Studies and is co-chair of the President's Commission on the Status of GLBT Issues.
The Staff Award was given in honor of former Registrar Stephanie Thomas, who was a strong advocate for women's rights at UNH. She died of cancer in the early 90s. In 1991 as part of the Women's Oral History Project sponsored at the UNH Women's Resource Center Stephanie stated; " What's important to me is to get women to be more self-confident, and to realize how much they have to offer. So I say to women, 'Take risks!. . .'"
This year's Stephanie Thomas Staff Award was given to the Head Coach of the Women's Crew Team, Rachel Rawlinson . She has fought hard to stand up for women's rowing as a sport at UNH. When it was cut from a varsity sport to a club sport, Rachel was a successful team manager and leader by making sure that every woman who wanted to row at UNH was able to do that.
She put her energy into enabling the team to continue at a high level of achievement. To accomplish this, she had to start from scratch and work with Campus Recreation to build a rowing team based solely on the fundraising efforts of that team. One of the crew members said, “She is there at 6:00 a.m. every morning. She never complains! Even though she has two other jobs, our team comes first to her. When we need her, she is there.”
Another one of her rowers said, “. . . She teaches us determination and integrity. She has had a profound impact on my life, and when I graduate from UNH this year, I will strive to be as strong and admirable as Coach Rawlinson.”
The 2007 Joyce Gibbs Award was presented to Edward O'Brien, Professor of Psychology . The award was created in 1996 to honor Joyce James Gibbs, who served as a senior administrative assistant to the Women's Commission from 1990 - 1997. Joyce died in April 2001. Throughout her life, Joyce was the support and anchor for a wide circle of students, activists, and others in the UNH and Seacoast communities.
Professor Ed O'Brien challenges women to aim for full professor and not to settle for less .
Recent articles in the Chronicle of Higher Education show that there are very few women who reach the rank of full professor due to obstacles on the path to tenure and promotion. One colleague wrote: “He chooses to use his status to help women gain equal access.”
“Ed gives me advice on how to accomplish my goals. “He told us, ‘All you have is your name. Publish with integrity.'”
“He told us: ‘Anyone can go into a classroom and showoff how smart they are, but that's not teaching.'”
“He took the time to assess my teaching evaluations and provide constructive feedback. I cannot overstate how much it meant to have encouragement from another faculty member on this task.”
“He taught me that everyone isn't going to like me all the time, a lesson difficult to learn for some!”
“He insisted that I had every right to expect that people around me act with integrity.”
Dr. O'Brien encouraged me to be vocal and not be afraid to ask for things, to stand up for myself and expect fair treatment. In one particular case, I actually was not going to argue at all, for fear of being considered “difficult.” Ed convinced me that I HAD to stand up for myself, that it wasn't so much about the idea, but about how I was going to handle working relationships for the rest of my career.
“When I went on a job search this fall, I knew that I had every right to ask for a higher salary and more lab space!”
“He taught me to act ‘as if.' ‘As if' the stereotypes of women don't exist. ‘As if' others won't underestimate me at times because of my gender.”
The 2007 Women's Commission Student Award was presented to Rachel Geoghegan Umberger . She has served as a role model for her fellow students as an activist on campus, promoting equality and advancing the status of women.
She has worked at The New Hampshire and been an active member of
- the Women's Union
- American Women United Against Eating Disorders
- The charitable organization that knits afghans for Afghans
- and the Progressive Students Exploring Spirituality.
- She is the Founder and president of a new women's group on campus called Third Wave: A Place for Feminists, an organization with a mission to grow capacities for women's activism and involvement.
Ms. Umberger has also been an active board member of the United Campus Ministry, a volunteer at Pace e Bene, and has coordinated trips to Washington, D.C., for national marches, organized feminist film screenings and discussions, planned self-defense workshops and helped host a workshop on homosexuality and spirituality.
One of her professors said, “In Rachel Umberger we have a Dean's List, high-achieving student who clearly understands her responsibility as leader, role model, and active participant for women's equity, in particular, and for social justice issues, generally.”
One of her parents remarked that, when she was a child, she wrote to the governor of New Hampshire to ask why the state didn't have a Martin Luther King Day. She did this on her own, without outside encouragement. She was 7 years old.
The program concluded by Eleanor Hight, Chair of the Women's Commission, congratulating and thanking the four honorees on this 23 rd Annual Awards Celebration 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.