The Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis community gathered April 11 to celebrate 20 years of advocacy and support for gender equity on campus by the IUPUI Office for Women.
Speaking at the anniversary luncheon, Stephanie Mathews O'Keefe, the CEO of the International Women's Forum and the Leadership Foundation, and IUPUI Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar praised the office's work to empower women to reach their full potential. The office implements mentoring programs; professional development training; recognition awards; Women's History Month celebrations; and programming focused on the social justice needs of women, families and communities.
The International Women's Forum is a unique organization composed of more than 6,500 women leaders in 35 countries and 76 forums around the world. The mission of the forum is to is to build better global leadership by connecting the world's most preeminent women of significant and diverse achievement and to support their leadership.
The Office for Women marked the occasion by reintroducing its Pacesetter award, which it initiated in 2004. The Pacesetter recognizes women leaders who exemplify "initiative, courage, perseverance and excellence" in their chosen field or endeavor.
The awardees were:
- Tamika Catchings, Olympic gold medalist and retired Indiana Fever player.
- Betty Cockrum, chief executive officer, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky.
- Miriam Acevedo Davis, president, La Plaza.
- Mari Evans, poet and community activist (posthumous).
- Rabbi Sandy Sasso, Beth-El Zedeck congregation and Women4Change Indiana.
In her remarks, O'Keefe said some people describe the advocacy and support for gender equity by the Office for Women as a "soft thing that is about women."
"It is not," she declared. "These issues are about the economy and about society. Because not only are they the right thing to do, they are the smart thing to do."
"It should go without saying, but it has to be said. It has to be said because the reality is that there are not many women leading institutions of higher education in the United States," Paydar said, citing a recent study that showed only 26 percent of U.S. colleges and universities are led by women.
"At IUPUI, although a majority of our cabinet members are women, we have few female deans, and less than a quarter of tenured full professors are women," he said. "We need to concentrate on these areas."
"We strive to make everyone feel welcome, to recruit and retain the very best, and to encourage and support the highest levels of achievement," Paydar said. "These are the goals behind the Welcoming Campus Initiative."
Paydar said projects that are receiving funding through a $1 million Welcoming Campus Innovation Fund will be announced later this month. "Through these projects, we hope to continue to make a difference in the lives of women and the lives of everyone on this campus."