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24th Annual Women's Commission Awards Celebration

May 7, 2008

The 24th Annual Women’s Commission Awards were presented on April 9 in the MUB Strafford Room. The Chair of the Women’s Commission Eleanor Hight opened the ceremony.

The annual celebration calls for nominations recognizing the diversity of women’s experience at UNH. Nominees this year included women in science who run support organizations, operating staff in Dining Services who help students battle eating disorders, women who work for equity in the field house, and women who have written letters to the editor to cite the need for inclusion.

2008 award nominees were considered for their contributions to promoting equal educational opportunities for women by increasing the status of women, serving as role models for women on campus, and making a difference with individuals, organizations, programs and policies.

Special recognition was given to student members and friends of the commission Marie Coyle, Miranda Fillebrown, Carli Stevenson and Cait Vaughan for doing the hard work of asking the tough questions that lead to positive change.

Opening remarks were delivered by Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Wanda Mitchell and Women’s Studies Program coordinator, Marla Brettschneider. Mitchell thanked those women who began celebrating UNH women’s work to bring changes in programs and policies to campus.

Brettschneider recalled the testimonials on the status of women in the 1970s, in the 1990s and in 2002. She quoted those who had taken the microphone and speak out on the need for convenient child care facilities, women’s access to tenure track faculty positions, equal access to sports, and fair hearings in sexual harassment suits. She said that while life on campus has changed for the better, we continue to ask how women are being supported in the fields of math and science, athletics, the tenure and promotion process, research, classrooms, and positions of leadership. She invited members of the audience to take time each week “to remember those who take the risks and speak up.”

The 2008 award winners were faculty member Carol B. Conaway, undergraduate student Carli E. Stevenson and staff members Amy J. Culp and Peter L. Welch.

Carol Conaway accepting the 2008 Women's Commission Faculty Award

Conaway is a frequent contributor on committees, commissions and education panels where she shares her knowledge of politics, pedagogy, feminism, and multicultural issues. Her interdisciplinary scholarly traditions in communications, political science, and rhetoric attract students to her classes, where discussions on racism, classism, sexism, and sexuality challenge perceptions of self and privilege.

Her recently published collection of essays, “Black Women’s Intellectual Traditions: Speaking Their Minds”, recently won an award for excellence. This co-edited work reveals important but forgotten women figures, one of the major branches of scholarship in women's studies.

Dawn Zitney, incoming vice chair of the Women's Commission, presenting Amy Culp with the 2008 Stephanie Thomas Award.

The 2008 Stephanie Thomas Staff award was presented to Culp, direct services administrator for the sexual harassment and rape prevention program. She served as interim director during a recent transition and kept a steady hand to make sure that those who needed her received the same high level of service.

Though she has direct knowledge of one of the ugliest crimes in our society and sees its damage daily, she continues to train advocates, serve as an advocate, and support others in that role so that survivors of sexual assault receive the tools they need to make positive choices and take control of their future.

Peter Welch receiving the Joyce Gibbs Award

The Joyce Gibbs Award was presented to health educator and counselor Welch, who has been a mentor to women in their personal and professional development. For more than 20 years (and most of them at UNH), Welch has been educating women in counseling sessions, classrooms and residence halls on the importance of learning how to lead rich emotional, physical and spiritual lives. He is committed to educating all students on the importance of finding integrity as they work on their sexual, spiritual, mental and physical selves. Using holistic research to help women live the fullest of lives, Welch helps women to claim their rights to healthy sexuality.

The Student Award winner was Stevenson, a student representative on the SHARPP Task Force appointed by Vice President Mark Rubinstein. She has been a member of Students Advocating Gender Equality (SAGE), the Women’s Union, the UNH Alliance, the UNH Peace and Justice League, Seacoast Peace Response and the Student Environmental Action Coalition. She has worked for awareness on the labor implications of UNH contracts with private companies and on the lack of affordable housing. She has made people aware of women’s oppression, economic disparity, and the alarming incidence of rape where there is war and military occupation. She helped arrange free HIV testing on campus. Carli speaks “truth to power,” in the spirit and tradition of many great women revolutionaries throughout the ages, and by doing so, she has made our campus a better place.

Keynote Eileen McNamara was invited to deliver “Gender and Race As They Apply to the 2008 Presidential Elections”.

In her career at The Globe, McNamara covered research on women’s issues and on urban violence, and she is currently a professor at Brandeis University in their journalism program.

She cautioned listeners to take care not to use entitlement when voting. She said, “Just because someone is female or black, that does not entitle them to get our vote. Instead, why not use Martin Luther King’s criteria: to judge them by their character. Her parting word was “Vote.”


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