Week of Excellence recognizes women for commitment to EMU

During the Week of Excellence, women who illustrated some form of it were honored at the Women’s Resource Center’s Women of Excellence Awards.

At this luncheon more than 100 guests made up of students, faculty and staff from different departments and ranks, come together to recognize women who spent a great deal of time helping other women on and off of Eastern Michigan University’s campus.

Jessica Klein, the program director at the Women’s Resource Center, was the emcee of the afternoon. She explained what the Women of Excellence Awards mean.

“The people who started [the Women of Excellence Awards] were students,” Klein said.

“They didn’t have a full time staff and they wanted to recognize the women on this campus who has made a positive contribution to other students on and off campus.”

After contemplating how to execute the task, someone mentioned putting on an award show and since the early 1990s, the Women’s Resource Center has continued to put on the end of the year celebration.

This year Dr. Heather Neff, Sierra Hill from the Office of International Students and Courtney Williams, a student studying psychology, were among the 35 women nominated for an award.

Klein explained that while anyone can nominate someone for an award, the forms are only sent out to staff and faculty because “that seems to be the easiest way to do it.”

Before the winners received their plaque as their award, keynote speaker Kay Woodiel, who is the director of the department of Diversity and Community Involvement, gave a few words explaining how women have contributed to the success of the university.

“We’re really excited to have her as our keynote speaker because she has done amazing things for the Women’s Center and our department as a whole,” Klein said.

As Woodiel closed her speech with a poster of Rosie the Riveter with the famous phrase “We can Do it,” with the “can” crossed out and replaced with “will,” the crowd gave her a round of applause along with a standing ovation.

“This year [we had some] incredibly hard decisions [to make],” Klein said. “We based our decision off of specific criteria that reflects the mission of the Women’s Resource Center.”

“The women chosen for this year’s awards are definitely guilty of enhancing the lives of women on and off this campus,” Klein said with a chuckle.

The first award went to the president of Delta Zeta sorority, Holly Grunn. Klein said she engaged her sorority in conversation about the environment they are creating and she also expanded her influence to the community.

“This woman has moved mountains,” Klein said when introducing the next recipient of an Excellence Award.

“Under her leadership the women and gender studies program has become a department. Under her leadership the department has hired the first full-time faculty member,” Klein went on to say.

“Women’s history month programming has achieved its highest level of excellence. Linda Pritchard is truly a woman of excellence,” Klein announced.

Angela Baugher, the only student to receive an award this year got her plaque next. Klein said Baugher asserted the ability to think critically, and Klein has seen her make an assertive effort to create a better environment for the women at EMU.

When announcing the last award, Klein surprised a few people and also surprised herself.

“Someone in this room thought I only had three awards, but I actually have four,” she said with a smile.

“She has touched the lives of students, staff and faculty all over this community,” Klein said as she began to get teary-eyed.

“She represents a woman of great strength and courage, she has a representation of a an effective administrator and her work definitely benefits young women.

She also serves as a role model not only for issues of diversity, but also academic integrity and principled behavior.”

Klein then gave the last Excellence Award to keynote speaker of the afternoon, Kay Woodiel. As she went to accept her award, the crowd rose to its feet and applauded the last recipient.

While only four women received an Excellence award, the other 31 who received nominations took home a gift bag and certificate to honor their contribution to helping women during the 200-2010 school year.

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