UI honors women during Celebration of Excellence

BY LINI GE | APRIL 02, 2009 7:42 AM

Donna Pearcy still laughs when she thinks about her remarks at a discussion last year with her colleagues in the UI Risk Management Office regarding the flood-recovery plan.

“ ‘We can do this. We are the University of Iowa,’ ” said the chief risk officer, referring to herself as a “cheerleader.”

Pearcy was a leader in the UI’s flood-recovery efforts, winning her the Distinguished Leadership Award at the UI’s Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women on Wednesday afternoon in the Old Capitol.

The award — the first of its kind presented at the annual tribute — was given to Pearcy for her coordination of various units both on and off campus that led the university to receive more than $83 million in state and federal aid for flood recovery.

“Finding these magnificent women scattered across the campus is always a real treat,” said Janice Warren, student program administrator of the Belin-Blank Center, who chaired the committee that selected Pearcy as the winner.

( Daily Iowan video feature )

Video in QuickTime format, click here for free player download

“When we recognize the accomplishments of women faculty, staff, and students, we are reaffirming the values that this institution stands for — the core values of diversity and gender equity,” UI Provost Wallace Loh said in his keynote speech.

Keri Hornbuckle, the executive officer at civil and environmental engineering, won the Distinguished Achievement Award. As the first chairwoman in the engineering school, she is a role model for many of her students.

“I remember her mentioning the fragrance research she was doing and it sparked a curiosity in me,” said Jessica Smith, a UI senior majoring in environmental engineering and studio art. “Keri is a wonderful idol for how women can pursue and achieve great feats in engineering.”

The Jean Jew Women’s Rights Award went to Rachel Williams, an associate professor in the College of Education. What made Williams stand out from roughly a dozen nominees was her work bringing art programs to prisons and juvenile facilities in Iowa, said Laurie Haag, program developer at the UI Women’s Resource and Action Center, who chaired the committee that selected Williams as the winner.

“Working with women who are disadvantaged is very hard and important work,” Haag said. “It’s a population that a lot of people didn’t reach out to.”

Williams agreed, saying the programs helped women make sense of their lives.

“They are an invisible population and by helping them to make art and share it with others they can remember that they still have something to offer the human race,” she said.

Several scholarships awarded at the celebration covered both undergraduate and graduate students from a variety of disciplines. Wangui Gathua, a graduate student in counselor education, received the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship.

Since coming to the UI in 2005, she has traveled to many Iowa towns to raise funds for girls in her home country of Kenya to receive education. Upon receiving the scholarship, she thanked Iowans for their generosity in contributing to her cause.

“I don’t know when it’s going to happen … but one day I would want to see the girl child in Kenya on the same level with the boy child,” Gathua said.

Daily Iowan Advertising
Today's Display Ads | Today's Classifieds | Advertising Info

Sponsored Links  
T-Shirt Design  
Insurance Leads Charlotte Web Design
Health Insurance Leads Home Equity Loans
Home Service Guides  
Life Insurance DMI Furniture
Custom Magnets Buy a text ad

Privacy Policy (8/15/07) | Terms of Use (4/28/08) | Content Submission Agreement (8/23/07) | Copyright Compliance Policy (8/25/07) | RSS Terms of Use

Copyright © The Daily Iowan, All Rights Reserved.