Women's Studies

May 1, 1998

Women's Studies Consortium Wins National Award

By Amy Ozmun
UW-RF News Bureau

The University of Wisconsin Systems Women's Studies Consortium has been selected as the first recipient of the National Leadership Award in the category for Outstanding Women's Studies Programs.

For the last five years, The American Council on Education National Network for Women Leaders in Higher Education has honored individuals who have contributed significantly to the advancement of women and women's issues in higher education.

This year ACE created a new category of awards to recognize outstanding Women's Studies Programs. The awards were presented at the 80th annual ACE meeting recently in San Francisco, where consortium director Jacqueline Ross accepted the award on behalf of the Women's Studies Consortium.

The University of Wisconsin-River Falls Women's Studies Program was created in 1986. The program offers a Women's Studies minor as well as help in planning events such as Take Back the Night and Women's History Month.

Program coordinator Professor Kathy Tomlinson believes that the ACE award will help to create a growing awareness of what women's studies is and how it can be valuable.

"We are recognized as part of a highly recognized women's studies network. Recognition by ACE helps to move the positive effects of a women's studies background forward," says Tomlinson.

The consortium, which was founded in 1989, is comprised of the women's studies programs based on the 14 UW System campuses and UW-Extension. The mission is to ensure the continued development of women's studies, to maintain the state's current national prominence in the field, and to create a unique inter-institutional model for educational innovation. The Consortium offers over 300 courses to over 8,000 students each year and has recently established a women's studies major.

In addition to the courses and women's studies minor, the Consortium is also involved in a variety of different programs which help ensure the continued development of Women's Studies in the UW System. The UW-River Falls campus his highly involved in two of the projects, the Women and Poverty Public Education Initiative and the Women and Science Program.

Social work department Professor Ruth Kalms and UW-River Falls graduate Victoria Hanson, are working as representatives for the Women and Poverty Program. They are currently collecting information regarding the effects of W2 (Wisconsin Works) on western Wisconsin. Kalms and Hanson are also looking at how the welfare reforms are effecting women and children in western Wisconsin as well as providing support to women in poverty in the River Falls area.

The Women and Science Program is designed to attract and retain qualified women and minority students in science, mathematics and engineering. The UW-River Falls Women's Studies Program brings in distinguished professors, such as Cheryl Ney and Sherri Nichols, to work with faculty in developing techniques to keep women in math and science. Also, biology department Professor Kim Mogan and chemistry department Professor Barb Nielson work with faculty to continually develop techniques to retain women in the math and science studies.

The honor of receiving the ACE award will not only benefit the UW-System, but UW-River Falls as well. "Our program has grown. The number of students in women studies has gone up and down, but the number of courses offered has consistently grown," Tomlinson says. For more information on the women's studies program at the UW-River Falls, contact Tomlinson at 715/425-0619.

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