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University of Iowa News Release


March 25, 2008

Annual tribute to women at the UI to be held April 1

"A Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women," the University of Iowa's annual tribute to the accomplishments of women at the university, will be held Wednesday, April 1, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol. A reception will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by the awards program at 4 p.m.

This annual event recognizes outstanding scholarship, research, service, leadership and activism among UI undergraduate, graduate, staff and faculty women.

Executive Vice President and Provost Wallace Loh will present the keynote address for this event, which is free and open to the public. Rachel Williams (photo, left), associate professor in the College of Education, will be master of ceremonies. Giordano Godoy Pagotti and Marcelo Boccato Kuyumjian, graduate students in jazz studies at the UI School of Music, will perform at the event.

Special presentations will include the UI Distinguished Achievement Award to Keri C. Hornbuckle, professor and departmental executive officer of civil and environmental engineering in the UI College of Engineering, and the UI Distiguished Leadership Award to Donna L. Pearcy, chief risk officer in Risk Management, Insurance and Loss Prevention.

In addition, the Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award will be given to Rachel Williams, associate professor in the UI College of Education, and several student scholarships will be awarded.

The Distinguished Achievement Award is presented to staff or faculty members who have significant years of service within the university community, who are pioneers in their work or service, and are role models for women and girls. Hornbuckle (photo, right) joined the College of Engineering in 1998 and serves as the Robert and Virginia Wheeler Faculty Fellow of Engineering. In addition to holding a secondary appointment as professor of occupational and environmental health, she is a faculty research engineer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering and a researcher at the UI Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research.

Her current research interests include source and fate of consumer products in natural systems; atmospheric deposition of potentially toxic compounds into the Great Lakes; design of air and water sampling equipment; and engineering modeling. In September 2008, she announced results of a study that found potentially toxic substances -- byproducts of paint pigment manufacturing -- present in Chicago air. Currently, she is conducting a study of pollutants left in the soil of Cedar Rapids by floodwaters during the floods of 2008.

As the first woman chair in the College of Engineering, she serves as a mentor for women researchers and is "an inspiring example for the 10 other, more junior, women faculty in the College of Engineering," according to Michelle M. Scherer, associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, who nominated Hornbuckle for the award.

In June 2008, the university faced a potentially catastrophic 500-year flood. For the university to survive, this extraordinary event required an extraordinary response from its employees. In recognition of this fact, the Committee for the Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women is giving the Distinguished Leadership Award to Pearcy (photo, left), who was the UI's incident commander during the flood. She assembled a group of administrators from across the campus to plan a coordinated response to the flooding, coordinate activities during the flood, and, later, begin recovery efforts on campus.

In her nomination letter for the award, Judie Hermsen, senior assistant director in Human Resources, said of Pearcy: "She expected and received the cooperation and support of virtually everyone on campus and successfully motivated them to rally on behalf of the university as part of a prolonged effort to address the eminent threat. As a leader, Pearcy kept the sense of purpose front and center for everyone, engaging everyone to accomplish really great things that would otherwise not have been achieved."

The Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award is named for a professor of anatomy who fought an uphill battle for more than a decade to defend herself against slander and sexual harassment from faculty in her department, a struggle that she ultimately won. Given annually by the Council on the Status of Women and the Women's Resource and Action Center, the award honors a faculty, staff or student member of the university community who has demonstrated outstanding effort or achievement in improving the status of women on campus.

Student scholarships will include the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship, which will be presented to two recipients: Alexandra Keenan, an undergraduate student studying biomedical engineering, biochemistry and international studies; and Virginia Wangui Gathua, a doctoral student in counselor education. This award was created by a designated bequest to the UI Foundation to recognize qualified female applicants who demonstrate financial need and are committed to women's issues, diversity and social activism. The scholarship is administered and recipients selected by the Women's Resource and Action Center at the UI.

The Adele Kimm Scholarship will be given to Miranda Welch, an undergraduate majoring in women's studies and English. In 1992, a bequest from Adele Kimm, in memory of her brother S. Conrad Kimm and his wife Hilda, made it possible for the Women's Studies Program to award the this scholarship to a deserving women's studies student.

The Wynonna G. Hubbard Scholarship will be presented to Brianna Rosa Byrd, an undergraduate student majoring in journalism and mass communication. Established by the late UI Vice President Emeritus Philip G. Hubbard in memory of his wife, the award is given each year to an African-American woman with a grade-point average of 3.0 or above who demonstrates an unusual interest in the well being of others.

The Jane A. Weiss Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to Elithet Silva-Martinez, a doctoral student in the School of Social Work. The scholarship is named in honor of Jane Weiss, an assistant professor of women's studies and sociology at the time of her death in 1981. The award is made to doctoral students whose dissertations promise to expand understanding of important women's issues.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, call 319-335-0011 in advance.


STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Judie Hermsen, 319-335-3553 or Laura McLeran, 319-335-0011, Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women committee; George McCrory, Unversity News Services, 319-384-0012,