History 1981-2011

During fall 1980, a task force comprised of Barbara Bate, Cathleen Fields, and Pat Takemoto proposed to President William Monat a concept for an advisory group on issues important to women that would become the NIU Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW).


The first meeting of PCSW was held April 24, 1981, with Wilma Stricklin serving as interim chair. During summer 1981, Dr. Stricklin and 11 other founding members held organizational meetings. Membership on this initial group included: Madonna Cutsinger, Margot Feldman, Cathleen Fields, Lori LaPlanche, Patricia Hewitt, Sharon Howard, Pat Lattin, Muriel Mackett, Gloria Raigoza-Masias, Denise Rode, Diana Smith, and Wilma Stricklin. During July, operating procedures for the commission were developed, and planning of an open forum took place. By August, bylaws were approved, and Wilma Stricklin was asked to be chair. A survey based on "Everywomen's Guide to Colleges and Universities" was distributed to the deans and other administrators through the president's office to obtain data related to NIU's position on women's issues and concerns.

In fall 1981, President Monat appointed 14 continuing members to the PCSW. The membership consisted of two persons serving in an ex- officio capacity (Sharon Howard, director of University Resources for Women, and Patricia Lattin, director of Affirmative Action); three faculty (Lori LaPlanche, Muriel Mackett, and Wilma Stricklin); three operating staff (Margot Feldman, Patricia Hewitt, and Bennetta Stearns); three supportive professional staff (Michelle Emmett, Denise Rode, and Kay Van Mol); and three students (Jennifer Coates, Cathleen Fields, and Catherine Tobin). The charge given the commission was to advise the president on concerns related to women in the university community. The following mission statement was adopted:

The commission shall be the primary channel by which advice is given to the president on issues and concerns related to the status of women at NIU. It shall advise the president on research and actions needed but will not be the body primarily responsible for performing indicated research or information gathering. Commission members shall serve on behalf of the whole university community, in a spirit of independence and impartiality.

Minutes were taken by members to provide a written record of the commission's activities.

Two offices related to women's issues existed on campus at this time: University Resources for Women, a relatively new unit with one staff member, and the Women's Center, an office funded by the Student Association and run by volunteer students. The commission would work closely with these units. An open forum was held October 6-7, 1981, to assess the needs of women on campus; and most of November was spent considering the forum's results. Topics mentioned most often by all employees groups included several that continue to be of interest today: facilities and security, pay equity, sexism in the classroom, and faculty and staff development and promotional opportunities.

As a result of the forum and as recommended by the commission, a policy statement on sexual harassment was developed by the Affirmative Action Office and printed in the Northern Star and the Faculty Bulletin. Ten thousand copies were printed and distributed during January 1982. Also in 1982, the commission raised the need for better lighting near the lagoon (a recommendation stemming from the forum) and took on responsibility for and sponsorship of the Women Student Leadership Awards, previously handled by University Programming and Activities. The April 1983 awards ceremony was the first fully sponsored by the commission.


During 1982-83, under the leadership of Patricia Hewitt as chair, the commission compiled statistics from a survey on sexism in the classroom, reporting results to President Monat in July. Recommendations on eliminating sexist language in job titles, raising the rate of increment for low paying jobs that require several skills, and instituting an apprentice program in the skilled crafts for women and minorities were also forwarded to President Monat. (The apprentice program was established the following October.) During April, the commission held career development workshops for women student leaders. Projects also initiated in 1982-83 included an undergraduate study of sexism in the classroom (report completed in September 1983), a survey of gender-related problems of women faculty (report completed in January 1984), and distribution of a graduate student sexism study similar to the previous undergraduate study.


Patricia Hewitt again chaired the commission in 1983-84, a year in which a main goal was to expand awareness of the commission's role. New faculty and staff were sent mailings informing them of the commission's work, and follow-up letters were sent to all departments reminding them of problems identified during the sexism in the classroom survey. The commission was also given the charge of reviewing the Code of Ethical Behavior then used by NIU and was asked to assess the university's commitment to Title IX.


Judith Bischoff chaired the commission in 1984-85. Results of the undergraduate sexism study and the graduate sexism study were discussed at length. During October 1984, a student leadership workshop was held which led to a seven-session workshop on career issues during spring 1985. The commission supported the change of the no-rank faculty title to Supportive Professional Staff, reviewed the comparable worth issue, and held a second open forum on January 28-29, 1984. During February, the tenure clock issue and the status of the women's studies coordinator position were main priorities. Other activities supported by the commission were a reception for Jane Byrne, a presentation by Vice President Peggy Barr on "Women as Leaders," and the Women Student Leadership Awards.

Laura Frankiewicz served as interim chair during summer 1985, a period in which the commission began a study of the operating staff. Judith Bischoff returned to the position of chair in the fall. The commission worked on a final report for the president on a survey on gender-related problems affecting faculty; a pamphlet, "Have you Checked Your Sexism Lately," was distributed during fall 1985; a questionnaire for women operating staff regarding sexism in the work place was distributed; and the graduate student sexism survey data analysis began. The commission also sponsored a reception for Senator Doris Karpiel during Women's History Month and the Women Student Leadership Awards during April. The bylaws were updated, and a request to establish a budget for the commission's ongoing activities was forwarded to President Wingfield.


The commission was chaired by Laura Frankiewicz in 1986-87. The operating staff and graduate student sexism studies continued, and a survey was completed regarding video display terminal use. The commission published a bibliography of scholarship and artistry by NIU faculty and staff on the subject of women. About Women was distributed at a Women's History Month luncheon to which members of the Board of Regents were invited. The commission supported the formation of a student women's caucus, sponsored a debate between Phyllis Schlafly and Sarah Weddington, co-sponsored Andrea Parrot speaking on the topic of "acquaintance rape" during sexual assault awareness week, and again held the annual Women Student Leadership Awards.


Sue Mellard was elected chair for 1987-88. The commission went through an internal restructuring which increased the amount of faculty representation and otherwise expanded the size of the commission to approximately 15 members. It also completed the operating staff sexism report, continued its analysis of data from the graduate student sexism survey of 1984, analyzed data from the VDT survey, and submitted a report to President John La Tourette on eating disorders among women on campus. At President La Tourette's request, the commission began an intensive study of conditions for women at NIU based on "The New Agenda of Women for Higher Education: A Report of the ACE Commission on Women in Higher Education." This report, distributed under the auspices of the American Council on Education, described the characteristics of campus life that provide a supportive setting for women faculty, staff, and students. The commission also responded to problems caused by the loss of the child care play lot, supported a reception for women in the sciences during Women's History Month, and held the Women Student Leadership Awards.


Sue Mellard returned to the position of chair for 1988-89. At this time, the office of University Resources for Women offered to house the written materials related to the work of the commission and to provide the commission with ongoing clerical support. The review of the ACE agenda continued. During this time, the commission worked on issues related to child care (survey, April 1989), reviewed the minority incentive recruitment hiring plan (implementation, January 1990), completed the graduate student sexism survey report, reviewed the maternity/parental leave policy (draft recommendations submitted in May 1989), and developed "stop the clock" tenure policy recommendations. As a result of information gathered in a two-session women's forum, the commission recommended an increase in career development opportunities for women faculty, staff, and operating staff employees and that a women's center be opened on campus. (The second recommendation was realized through an expansion of University Resources for Women with a new location and mission in November 1990). The Women Student Leadership Awards were held during March, and procedures for the awards were reviewed.


In 1989-90 the commission operated with its own budget for the first time. Chair Carole Minor led the commission in following through on recommendations stemming from the report on the ACE agenda submitted to President La Tourette in November 1989. The commission developed a subcommittee structure to address the four major areas identified in the preceding year's forum: salary equity, campus climate for women, family issues (including child care and dual career support), and career advancement opportunities. Other materials submitted to President La Tourette during 1989-90 included a proposed family leave policy (September 1989), a proposed tenure policy that would "stop the clock" for faculty under certain conditions (October 1989), results of the NIU child care survey (September 1989), the NIU women's forum summary (April 1990), and recommendations for a gender balance hiring incentive plan (May 1990). The commission also developed a policy for the handling of complaints about women's issues on campus. Work began on production of a video tape on sexual discrimination in the classroom; and Uma Sekaran, an administrator at Southern Illinois University, spoke to the commission during Women's History Month. The Women Student Leadership Awards were renamed "NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards," and the awards ceremony was held on Honor's Day in conjunction with other awards.


Kathy Hotelling was elected chair for 1990-91. With the beginning of the 1990-91 academic year, membership was increased to 21 in an effort to achieve wider representation of faculty, staff, and students. In fall 1990, the opening of the Women's Center (expansion of University Resources for Women) took place. In September, the sexual discrimination in the classroom video (ACT) was completed for use on campus and for marketing to external users. The commission also reviewed progress on the recommendations in the report on the ACE agenda. A second publication of About Women, including achievements of NIU faculty and staff since the first volume, was published in the spring semester. A VDT policy, the result of the commission's survey, was issued in May. A series of workshops on women and leadership were held, with Jeri McArthur as a special speaker. The NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards ceremony was again held on Honor's Day.


Chair Virginia Cassidy and the 23 members of the commission followed the progress of past recommendations and moved on to new areas in 1991-92. A reception was held for newly-employed NIU women to encourage networking and a supportive climate. A civil service salary equity report was forwarded to President La Tourette during the fall, and a new version of the gender balance incentive hiring plan was drafted. Spring brought a series of career development workshops and the NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards ceremony.


Marybeth Koos chaired the commission during 1992-93. A major new project undertaken by the commission with financial support from President John La Tourette's office, was a conference for the professional development of women at Northern. Titled "Empowering Women," the conference was held November 19, 1992, and attended by 250 women. Zerrie Campbell, an NIU graduate and now the President of Malcolm X College in Chicago, spoke at the luncheon. The commission also purchased a video, "The Chilly Climate for Women in Colleges and Universities," produced by the University of Western Ontario, to complement the video produced at NIU. These tapes are housed at University Resources for Women and other NIU offices and are available to be checked out. The commission reviewed the NIU Health Service's gynecology clinic policy and made recommendations to the director for wording health forms in a more sensitive manner. The gender balance incentive hiring plan was approved, and initial funding was provided. The Community Coordinated Child Care office (4-C) released a report on local child care needs (to which NIU contributed) during April. The annual NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards ceremony was again held on Honor's Day.


During 1993-94, with Linda Tillis as chair, the commission organized its second campus conference. "Empowering Women II" was held in November with 550 women in attendance. Susan Gillette, an NIU graduate and CEO of DDB/Needham, a major advertising firm, was the luncheon speaker. The commission again sponsored the NIU Outstanding Women Student Awards and the Women's History Month poster contest. During the year, the gender balance incentive hiring plan was implemented by the provost's office. The commission decided to revise and update the ACT video in cooperation with Media Services. Also, the commission met with Tom Mitchell, Vice-President for Development and University Relations, to discuss ways in which it could participate in the university centennial and the capital campaign. As an outgrowth of this meeting, the commission members and recent past chairs engaged in a one-day retreat at the Woodstock Conference Center in summer 1994 to discuss commission goals and to identify projects, programs, and activities for women faculty, staff, and students that could be fundraising targets for the capital campaign. These ideas were communicated to the development and university relations staff.


In 1994-95 Lynn Neeley served as chair until December 1994. She resigned when she was appointed the Associate Dean for the College of Business. Linda Tillis served as chair for the remainder of the term.
During this year the Commission published a "Commission History" and a brochure "Brief Facts"; hosted a reunion for all past members at the end of March; and participated in the Benefits Fair and received many suggestions from participants. One of which included a study of secretary salaries, since secretaries earn less than janitors and yet need more complex computer and communication skills.

The Commission discussed the proposal by the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) to end the policy of reimbursing retiring faculty & staff for unused sick days. There was concern that this policy would have an adverse effect on the individuals at the lower end of the pay scale, many of whom are women. The proposal was not passed at this time.

The PCSW Award for Enhancing the Campus Climate for Women was established by the Campus Climate & Quality of Life subcommittee. The recipient is someone who has enhanced the climate at NIU for faculty, staff, or students. Lois Self was the first recipient and was presented the award at the Outstanding Women Students Award ceremony held on April 23, 1995.

The PCSW was one of the commissions assessed by the University Council to evaluate the number and size of all university committees. The proposal was to combine the individual commissions into one Social Justice Coordinating Committee containing administrative representatives and representatives from each former commission. It was determined that each commission would remain the same.


During 1995-96, the PCSW, along with Toni Tollerud as chair, began the year by responding to the suggestions and recommendations of the Committee on Committees regarding restructuring. Commission meetings will be cut to once a month, with subcommittees meeting more as needed. They also agreed to reduce the size of membership to 15 rotating members plus 5 appointed representatives from the Provost's Office, Women's Studies, URW, Affirmative Action, and Athletics.
Four subcommittees convened to handle a variety of projects and concerns. They were Strategic Planning, Personal and Professional Development, Campus Climate and Quality of Life, and The Empowering Women Conference III. PCSW discussed having a Child Care Subcommittee, but postponed the adoption of this until there was a clear understanding of the University-wide Child Care Committee. A representative from PCSW was named to this University Child Care Committee.

Sharon Howard was named as the Presidential liaison of the PCSW in September.

The Commission formally decided to name the Award for Enhancing the Campus Climate for Women, The Wilma D. Stricklin Award. A reception was held for Wilma in May and she presented the second recipient, Sharon Howard, with a plaque. Dr. Stricklin was also given a plaque and a gift from President LaTourette to honor her on this occasion. A perpetual plaque will be placed at URW with the award recipients names. Twelve women were nominated for this award and the PCSW expects this number to grow in the future. Fifty-two women were honored at the Outstanding Women Students' Award ceremony in April.

The Empowering Women III Conference was held in November and drew nearly 400 participants. There were four keynote speakers, two luncheons, and over 36 workshops. Evaluations indicate this is a valuable and worthwhile event that brings together women from campus and the community who are students, faculty, civil service and support staff.


Linda Jennings chaired the commission in 1996-97. During this year, extensive planning was carried out for the Empowering Women IV Conference, to be held Tuesday, October 28, 1997, with the theme A Balanced Lifestyle. Nancy Long conducted a workshop on how to develop a program proposal and give a conference presentation in order to encourage students to submit program proposals for the conference.
Procedures for the nomination and selection processes for the Wilma D. Stricklin Award for Enhancing the Campus Climate for Women were reviewed and refined. Dr. Judith Bischoff, the third recipient, was presented with the award in April during the Outstanding Women Student Award ceremonies.

The PCSW Excellence in Journalism Award was established to recognize journalistic effort contributing to greater awareness of women's issues on the NIU campus. The first recipient was Jamie Jordan, who was awarded with a plaque and $100 at the Journalism Banquet in April. A perpetual plaque with the recipients' names will be placed in the office of the Northern Star.

At President LaTourette's request, the issue of sexual assault on campus was researched by the Commission. In this significant undertaking, the PCSW researched the available data regarding the incidence of sexual assault on campus, researched programs and policies that are in effect on other college campuses, and met with key individuals who are involved in NIU's existing sexual assault prevention and response program. Subsequent to lengthy review, consideration and discussion of the available information, the PCSW's Report and Recommendations Regarding Sexual Assault on the NIU Campus was developed and submitted to the President.

A PCSW home page was developed with assistance from Samantha Thompson, a graduate student working on her Master's in counseling. The address is-- http://www.niu.edu/depts/women/pcsw. The New Faculty/Staff Information Packets were revised and updated, and are available through the Affirmative Action office to any campus department to use as a resource when recruiting and interviewing potential faculty and staff. In addition, Resources for DeKalb Area Women, a convenient, foldout business card that lists more than 120 services and resources for women, was developed with the assistance of Margaret Mills, graduate assistant in the Women's Studies Program.


Patricia Etnyre-Zacher, chaired the PCSW during 1997-1998 with Michele Crase serving as vice-chair.  The membership consisted of 15 rotating members plus one appointed representative from each of the following offices:  Provost, Women's Studies, University Resources for Women, Affirmative Action, and Athletics.   At the end of the 1997-1998 year, the PCSW decided to replace the research subcommittee with focus groups for specific identified topics of study as needed.  Also, a separate awards subcommittee will be formed to free the Campus Climate and Quality of Life subcommittee from that arduous commitment. 

The commission provided a response to questions from President LaTourette regarding the Sexual Assault Report.   On October 28, 1997 The Empowering Women IV Conference “A Balanced Lifestyle" was held on campus.  The conference began with brunch followed by the keynote speaker, Carolyn Thompson.  Participants were able to attend three 1 ½  sessions of their choice selected from the 15 different presentations that were offered throughout the day.  In addition, small roundtable discussions were held over the noon hour.  The evaluations suggest that the conference was enjoyable, inspirational, and allowed time for focusing on balancing oneself.   The PCSW will continue to support the university's effort to recruit and retain qualified and diverse faculty and staff. 

Events that were co-sponsored this year included:  Voz de la Alianza Latina Estudiantil (VALE) Leadership Conference, February 1998; Women's History Month, March 1998; and African-American Leadership Conference, April 1998.    The Resources for DeKalb Area Women was put on-line attached to the homepage.  The homepage was also updated.

Fifty-three women were recognized as Outstanding Women Students.  Carole Minor was the 4th recipient of the Wilma Stricklin Award for Enhancing the Campus Climate for Women.  Rachel A. Michaels, received the Excellence in Journalism Award. 

A letter was sent to Robert Boey, Chair of the NIU Board of Trustees, commending the board for approving the new and extended child care facility.  The Commission encouraged the addition of a wing to accommodate the Child Development Laboratory to achieve some of the synergies that were part of the original plan.   


Michele Crase chaired the Commission in 1998-1999, with Sheri Kallembach as vice-chair.  The original report to the president on the ACE Agenda of Women for Higher Education was presented to President LaTourette in 1989.  This report was revisited during this year, reviewing the changes in university community during the past ten years, and a written report provided on the findings.   The original report had fifteen items of interest.  Since that time an additional five items have been added to the ACE report (The New Agenda Revisited, 1992).  All twenty items were reviewed, researched and discussed as they relate to the NIU community.  The final report, including specific recommendations, is expected to be submitted to the president at the beginning of the year 2000.

Steve Cunningham and Anne Kaplan came to a commission meeting to discuss the reorganization of Affirmative Action and Equity Services at NIU.  Various aspects of planning the new program were reviewed.  In addition the new NIU Policy and Procedures Statement on Sexual Harassment Prevention was distributed.

The Resources for DeKalb Area Women foldout was reprinted.  Eight thousand were given out over the past two years.  PCSW received additional funding from Dean Zar, Associate Provost for the Graduate Student Research and Dean of the Graduate School to defray costs.

The Wilma D. Stricklin award recipient for 1999 was Kay Forest; artist Jennifer Knavle presented Kay with an original artwork.   Laura Gigsby received the Excellence in Journalism Award. 

It was brought to the commission's attention that several women employees on campus found it difficult to find a secure location for pumping breast milk at work for their babies.  Various alternatives were discussed and agreement to develop a database of those individuals with private office space or conference room space that could be used on occasion for this purpose was developed.  Employee Wellness and Assistance Program will coordinate this effort. 


Chair Sheri C. Kallembach and Vice-Chair Amy Levin were the officers for 1999 – 2000. The final report on recommendations to the president on the twenty items reviewed from the ACE Agenda of Women for Higher Education was released to President LaTourette on February 2, 2000. 

On October 21, 1999, approximately 220 people attended Empowering Women Confernce V, a one-day personal and professional development conference. The theme was “Across the Spectrum” and provided a multi-faceted approach to discussing and experiencing contemporary women's issues. Nine sessions highlighted women's issues that extended beyond gender differences to encompass racial, ethnic, and age barriers. Dr. Rosita Marcano, assistant professor and chair of NIU's Department of Leadership and Educational Policy Studies, was the keynote speaker.

PCSW's major objective during that year was increasing its profile and attending to the campus climate. The Networking Luncheon was initiated to address this objective. It serves as a retention tool to welcome and retain new faculty and staff. PCSW will pay for the new staff member's first luncheon in order to include them in campus activities.

PCSW was a co-sponsor of Women's Lives, Women's Voices, Women's Solutions: Shaping a National Agenda for Women in Higher Education Teleconference which originated at the University of Minnesota, held March 27 and 29.

Lynne Waldeland was the Stricklin award recipient for year 2000. This year it was decided that an artist would be commissioned for five pieces to be presented to the award recipients starting with this year's recipient. The Enhancement for Journalism award was presented to Whitney Carnahan

The issues of stopping the clock for tenure track and proposed policies were researched. The Commission also participated in the Clothesline Project during April.


Amy Levin was chair during 2000-2001, assisted by Vice-Chair Hope Williams. The Networking Luncheon series has been continued and is very successful with an average participation of 40 individuals in attendance. The Empowering Women Conference was postponed and may be replaced by the Networking Luncheons.

The Excellence in Journalism Award was renamed after Martha Cooper and will be referred to as the Martha Cooper Journalism Award for outstanding writing on women's issues.

As a result of a PCSW recommendation during FY2000 the Policy on Lactation was incorporated with FMLA procedures concerning maternity leave requests for employees of all categories. Implications of extending this policy to students will also be considered. Other topics discussed by the PCSW this year were: “domestic partner” benefits; contraceptive insurance coverage; stalking, especially cyber stalking; review of salary information regarding the wage gap for women; Stop the Clock policy. President John Peters released the updated report on the status of women at NIU.


Stacie Allie served as chair of the commission during 2001-2002 with Sue Ouellette as vice-chair. The membership consists of 15 rotating members plus one appointed representative from each of the following offices: Provost's Office, Women's Studies, University Resources for Women, Affirmative Action, and Athletics.

A key agenda item for the Commission during this year was the development of a policy for the university on stalking. Members of the Commission spoke with NIU Ombudsman, Tim Griffin, regarding this issue. Research reports were also examined and discussed. Communication was established with Kathy Hotelling and Blanch McHugh regarding the grant awarded to the university by the Department of Justice. The Commission is currently reviewing and providing feedback on the draft policy statement on domestic violence and stalking that resulted from this effort.

Another goal of the Commission has been securing insurance coverage for oral contraceptives. A letter articulating the Commission's position was sent to the University Benefits Committee, which recently agreed to support the Commission's recommendation.

Tenure issues continued to be of significant concern to the Commission during this year. Information regarding policies from other universities was gathered by the research committee and discussed by the Commission.

The PCSW has continued to advocate for a comprehensive salary equity study. The Commission met with Steve Cunningham who detailed plans to conduct a large-scale study on campus. The Commission has continued to advocate for interviews as a key methodology for studying this issue. PCSW representatives Patricia Vary and William Minor participated on the salary equity study planning committee.

PCSW has maintained communication with the AADR Advisory Committee. A PCSW representative was present at the AADR Advisory Committee meetings. AADR staff attended PCSW meetings and regularly participated by providing information on their activities. AADR assisted the Commission in printing the DeKalb Area Women's Guide. PCSW continued to receive information on and react to goals 18 and 19 of the ACE agenda.

The PCSW continued to support networking efforts by sponsoring a series of networking luncheons. Speakers included Charlotte Rollman, Shirley Richmond, Jaya Gajanayake, Chris Sorensen, and Karen Baker. One luncheon was held in conjunction with International Women's Day. Networking luncheons replaced the Empowering Women conference this year. The Commission plans to reassess the possibility of offering the conference next year.

The Wilma Stricklin award was presented to Patricia Vary. The Martha Cooper Journalism Award was given to Stephanie Christian. Forty-eight students were honored with Outstanding Women Students awards at the annual ceremony. The Commission voted to begin work next year toward revising the criteria for the Stricklin award. The intent is to create a mechanism for acknowledging the range of contributions made by outstanding women on campus.

The Commission expressed interest in the concept of mentoring and began identifying mentoring programs that are available on the NIU campus.


Stacie Elder was the Chair for the fall of 2003 and Barbara Burrell was the chair in the Spring of 2004. The PCSW has four committees: Campus Climate and Quality of Life, Research, Awards and Recognition, Personal and Professional Development.

In 2003-2004, the Personal and Professional Development Committee organized two Networking Luncheons. The speaker at the November luncheon was Athletic Director Cary Groth who spoke about the Title IX Commission she was serving on, and the spring luncheon speakers were Dr. Mary Pritchard, Associate Dean, College of Health & Human Sciences and Dr. Aimee Prawitz, Associate Professor, School of Family Consumer & Nutrition Sciences. The title of their presentation was "Eating from the Bare Pantry: Food Insecurity Challenges."

The Campus Climate Committee continued to work with Micki Emmett, Student Affairs, Diane Pospisil-Kinney, Counseling and Student Development, and Blanche McHugh, Student Housing, to get more exposure for the issue of domestic violence and its effect on our students. This initiative involved working with the Voices for Change workshops and the issue of their being required. They were scheduled as of the beginning of the fall semester of 2004 not to be required. An effort was made to increase the number of UNIV 101 classes that will focus on domestic violence.  Robert Self, English, agreed to work with Counseling and Student Development and perhaps offer TA instruction and include domestic violence as a research topic choice in English 104

The subcommittee also discussed emergency communication on campus and invited Chief Grady to address the commission and talk about the current system of call boxes and a more high tech system using cell phones. Chief Donald Grady met with the PCSW and made a presentation about changes in the operations of the Public Safety Department. Tim Griffin, NIU Ombudsman, also met with the PSCW to update the Commission on the number and types of inquiries made to his office by women on the NIU campus.

The Research Committee began two initiatives. The first involves an analysis of how the Family Medical Leave Act is working on campus. This initiative will involve surveying departments regarding practices and procedures, surveying the campus to determine knowledge, use and issues with FMLA. One goal is to provide information on good practices that department chairs have implemented to facilitate compliance with this act.

The second initiative involves the development of a Status of Women Report that will be updated annually or biannually. It will include information on the tenure status of women faculty, distribution and graduation rates of women undergraduates and graduate students in NIU colleges and departments. A second phase of the project will involve women in leadership positions across the campus.

Awards and Recognition Committee chose forty-five women as Outstanding Women Students who were presented with awards on Honor's Day. Deborah Pettit of the Public Safety Department received the Wilma D. Stricklin Award. The recipient of the Martha Cooper Journalism Award was Jamie Lynn Luchsinger.  

In addition to committee work, Sherri Kallenbach presented the possibility of a potential half-day fall workshop dealing with women's leadership to be held at NIU. The PCSW is working with her to develop such a program.

2004 - 2005

Barbara Burrell was chair fot 2004-05.  The PCSW again has four committees this year: Campus Climate and Quality of Life, Research, Awards and Recognition, Personal and Professional Development.

The Campus Climate and Quality of Life committee focused on the issues of campus safety, mainly stalking and underaged drinking.  In gathering data we discoverd that the University Stalking Policy was near completion but not making progress.  We sent a letter of support encouraging movement of the Stalking Policy completion.  In researching the crime data related to alcohol abuse we discovered a University-wide Alcohol Task Force had been formed and been given three charges:  benchmark other universities data; audit surrounding communities; submit recommendations.  We halted our research and monitored their results. We also closely monitored the progress of the Family Medical Leave Act; the Domestic Partners Benefits Proposal; and the Tenure Clock Proposal as it worked it's way through the University's Legal Council, UCPC, University Council and was made official. The committee also created a listing of all women on campus receiving awards and sent congratulatory letters to them.   

The Research committee was involved with the Salary Equity Task Force and their Focus groups, collecting trend data and generally being overwhelmed with meetings and data.

The Awards and Recognition committee presented two major awards this year.  There were fifty-eight Outstanding Women Student Awards presented this year. The Wilma D. Stricklin Award was presented to Kathy Hotelling. She was one of five nominated this year (Michele Crase, Gail Jacky, Amy Levin, William Minor). The Martha Cooper Journalism Award only had one entry this year and therefore the award was not given this year.   The committee also spent time this year discussing the development of additional award(s) to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to women on campus, many of them deserving recognition but not fitting the Stricklin guidelines.  They did not come up with any finalized awards to date.  A series of four sculptural ceramic vessels by artist Audrey Purdy were purchased for the Stricklin artwork to be given to the next four Stricklin Award recipients.

Personal and Professional Development held four Networking Luncheons this year.  The web site was also given a new look.

2005 - 2006  

Josephine Umorem was chair for 2005-06. This was an exciting year for PCSW as we celebrated our 25th anniversary in style with the assistance of President John Peters. We held a gala in April 2006.  A 25th Anniversary Gala was held to celebrate honoring 25 Amazing NIU Women.   Over 115 women were nominated as amazing women from which only 25 were chosen to be honored.  President Peters was very supportive of the event held in the HSC Ballroom with a buffet meal, motivational speaker Gail Blanke and music by Mosaic.  Souvenier booklets and CDs were provided with biographies of the 25 women for all those who attended. 

The Salary Equity Task Force disbanded.  The results were generally positive but members were concerned about the way data was collected and reported.  There was also concern that it only focused on faculty issues.  Several Task Force members were asked to meet to summarize the results and explain the process to members. 

The Campus Climate and Quality of Life Committee continued to monitor results and feedback of the Alcohol Task Force.  They also created a draft of a survey on campus morale which may be used in the fall.

The Personal Professional Development Committee focused its networking luncheons on the celebration of the PCSW's 25th anniversary.  Three luncheons were held. The last one was an oral history panel of NIU women -- "Women at NIU: Looking Back Over Three Decades."  All luncheons were well attended. CD's were made available of the panel.

The Awards and Recognition committee suspended the Wilma D. Stricklin Award this year because of the Amazing Women Awards.  Fifty-six Outstanding Women Students were chosen to receive awards this year.  Anne Kaplan and Lynne Waldeland were gracious enough to compose the bios for the Amazing NIU Women Awards.  Rasmieyh Abdelnabi was chosen to receive the Martha Cooper Journalism Award.  Jason Akst, Yu-Li Chang Zacher, and Brian Thornton from the Communications department comprised the selection committee.  There were six other entries by four individuals.  There was also a Fall Welcome held for all new female employees. 

The Research  committee worked on a Report on Status of Women for President John Peters which took on a life of its own and consumed many hours of data collection.

2006 -2007

Josephine Umoren chaired the PCSW for her second term.  At the end of the 2005-2006 academic year the Salary Equity Task Force presented their results which indicated that while there were no significant differences between the variables examined, shared governance was highly valued.

Specific goals for the Commission were to:

  • Finalize the ACE Agenda Recommendation Review Report and submit it to President Peters.

  • Continue to work on avenues to support female employees on campus.
  • Continue to find ways to award and recognize the achievements of all female employees on campus
Campus Climate and Quality of Life:
  1. The report on the state of Women and Gender Equity in response to the ACE Agenda Recommendation Review Report of January 2000 which recommended that the university develop a comprehensive and candid annual status report was finalized. Yhe Presidential Commission on the Status of Women reviewed data on the presence of women among employment and student groups at NIU from 1998 through 2004/5. The final report was delivered to President Peters March 7, 2007. The President's response to the report will determine the direction the Commission will take.

  2. External funding: The Commission reviewed the ACE report and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation call for grants for Faculty Career Flexibility. It determined that NIU was not eligible to apply for this grant. The Commission may review the results in the future. On the request of the Commission, Steve Cunningham wrote a letter to administrators asking them to be flexible when arranging leaves for women who become pregnant during their first year at Northern, when there is a gap in coverage. The Commission also determined that a guide for explaining FMLA Flexibility for department chairs would be created. Creation of a general survey was indicated for the following year. 

  3. Dr. Hemphill was a visitor at the March 2007 PCSW meeting in his goal to meet with all the Presidential commissions. He expressed his support for the campus climate survey requested also by the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation. He provided an update on the new housing for students with dependents and graduate students, and the search for the WRC director position. PCSW has representation on the Strategic Planning Committee to ensure inclusion of the Commission’s concerns.

  4. The PCSW which works in close cooperation with the Women’s Resource Center was asked to help in transition of the Center. The Chair of the PCSW was asked to serve as Acting Director until a new director was hired to replace Sharon Howard who retired after a number of years. Summer 2006, Dr. Hemphill solicited input from the Commission regarding the job description for the WRC director and participated in the search process. The PCSW will continue to work closely with the WRC in the improvement of campus climate for all females on campus.

  5. The Commission is represented on the Affirmative Action Diversity Resources committee. PCSW participates in campus-wide searches for administrative positions and will continue this activity. PCSW met with the other Presidential Commissions and participated in the report requesting President Peters to support a campus wide climate survey. The Commission will participate in a meeting of all the Presidential Commissions again.

  6. The PCSW continued to work collaboratively with the Women’s Studies Program. The Commission contributed $800.00 to the Women’s History Month activities. Members also participated in the October 2006 Conference for Young Women and attended the National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference. PCSW will participate the next year.

  7. The Commission promoted the personal and professional development of women by hosting four networking luncheons with speakers this year. Next year the Commission has proposed to host more luncheons. The FCNS Catering will be contacted earlier for room availably.

  8. The Commission worked with Dr. Tom Krepel, from the President’s Office, to revise and finalize PCSW membership composition and criteria. PCSW recommended inclusion of a member of the Secretarial Advisory Council be appointed by the Provost.

Awards and Recognition:

2007 Recognitions and Awards:

In recognition of the newness of these two awards, the Commission, in consultation with Dr. Peters, tabled the Stricklin Award in 2007. The first recipients were Dr. Amy K. Levin for the Outstanding Mentor Award and Judy Lynn Skorek for the Women Who Make a Difference Award. However, the PCSW would continue to award all of its awards annually.

  • The Commission awarded fifty-five Outstanding Women Student Awards

  • Recognition letters were sent to thirty (30) female faculty members on campus who had earned tenure and/or promotions in the 2006-2007 academic year.
  • The Martha Cooper Journalism Award went to Kathleen M. Trusk. 

2007 -2008


The PCSW had a busy and productive year, 2008-2009. Rhonda Robinson served as Commission Chair, and Shirley Mashare served as Assistant Chair. This report highlights our activities in four sections: activities and accomplishments, issues and concerns, requests, and future directions.


The Commission maintains four committees to focus attention on our areas of interest more specifically.

Personal Professional Development Subcommittee

In order to provide networking opportunities for NIU community members, the PCSW with the President’s support sponsored six networking luncheons during the 2008-2009 academic year. The topics and speakers represented a variety of topics from several disciplines, offering interesting and wide ranging presentations for all on campus. An average of 40 attendees per session appreciated the lunch, speakers, and learning opportunities. By the end of this year, a PPD Subcommittee Protocol Binder was created and shared with the new PCSW Chair, so that the next subcommittee had clear detailed information for next year’s planning.

Speakers included: Laura Johnson, Assistant Professor, Educational Technology, Research and Assessment, presented: “Repaying the Sea.”

Winifred Creamer, Presidential Research Professor, Anthropology Department, presented: “21st Century Research on Ancient Civilization: Past to Future.”

Aline Click, e-Learning; Jassamine Cooke-Plagwitz, Foreign Languages; and Sharon Smaldino, College of Education, presented: “Designing for Learning in Second Life."

J. Elizabeth Miller, Associate Professor, School of Family, Consumer, and Nutrition Sciences, presented: “The Academic Portfolio: A New and Innovative Approach to Documenting Faculty Performance.”

Beverly W. Henry, Assistant Professor, Nutrition, Dietetics, and Hospitality Administration, presented: “Aging America?!!: Yes, We Can Prepare For It.”

Sharon Howard, Employee Assistance Program and Deborah Haliczer, Director Employee Relations, Human Resources Services presented: “Keeping Your Cool In Spite of Financial Concerns.”

Research Subcommittee

The primary goals of the Research Subcommittee are as follows:

The focus of the committee this year was derived from the completion and release of our most recent Research Committee Status Report, given to the President in summer, 2008. Our work in 2008-09 directly related to an action item from Page 25 of the PCSW report on the Status of Women (2008), which suggested:

“Creation of a data matrix that can be updated annually. A number of variables which pertain to women at all levels of the university should be formulated and tracked. These NIU data should be compared with IBHE and national data each year. A set of benchmarking and inspirational institutions could be included in the matrix for critical comparison.”

The short annual report from this subcommittee included in this report shares information regarding an approved plan for the annual updating of our Status Report. Please see this attachment for details and tables. Updating will be in progress regularly as data are made available.

Other subcommittee reports requested included information gathered on mentoring by Amy Levin and Lesly Rigg, and information sought and gathered about Affirmative Action policies and practices regarding candidate interviews for NIU positions and search committee training regarding fair practices.

Members of this subcommittee were invited to participate in the Salary Equity Study conducted by the university last spring and completed for release over the summer, 2008. Related to our Status Report, this salary equity concern is a repeated issue of the Commission. After some research on practices in other universities, the PCSW representatives suggested ways in which data could be collected and analyzed and displayed in order to help uncover inequities for both women and minorities. These techniques suggested were adopted and did in fact allow the study to uncover unexplained inequities for over 20 faculty which were then addressed by the Provost’s Office.

Awards and Recognition Subcommittee

The AR subcommittee is charged with the facilitation of PCSW awards for outstanding women on campus, students, staff, and faculty. They design and promote the awards competition, they select candidates for the awards, and they plan and create the awards ceremony in April. Awards include:

  • Outstanding Women Student Award

  • Martha Cooper Journalism Award

  • Wilma D. Stricklin Award

  • Women Who Make a Difference Award

  • Outstanding Mentor Award

Over 50 nominations for Outstanding Women Students were received and selected.  The Awards Ceremony was hosted in the HSC on April 19, 2009; Dr. Alden presided over the ceremony, along with PCSW members and Chair. Over 150 guests attended, including faculty who nominated students and many parents and family members.

Campus Climate Subcommittee

The subcommittee gained PCSW support to sponsor, facilitate, publicize, and engage in a new campus opportunity. The WAGE Workshop “$mart $tart” was invited to campus for multiple presentations. On April 1, 2009, the Wage Project’s Anne Houle, National Director for Campus Initiatives, visited NIU to hold two $mart $tart workshops. Aimed at women about to enter the workforce, the goal of this event is to help women improve their skills to negotiate fair and equal pay for their work. The workshop provided a set of specific steps that participants can take to understand the pay range for jobs they are considering and helped them develop strategies to use during the process of negotiating for a position.

This workshop taught attendees how to determine a fair and reasonable salary expectation for their desired job after leaving NIU, and to negotiate for fair and equal pay.

Approximately 20 students, graduate and undergraduate, participated. The low numbers seemed to be caused by late publicity and by crowded schedules of interested students.

‘Train the Trainer’ sessions were held to prepare NIU faculty and staff to promote further workshops in 2009-10, and PCSW members were very interested in continuing this effort.

PCSW plans to repeat the workshops next year with different arrangements for rooms, times, and publicity.


The PCSW had a productive 2009-2010 academic year by engaging in regular activities as well as launching a new initiative. Adrienne Holloway served as PCSW chair. Dr. Laura Vazquez is the incoming chair.

Research Committee

The focus of the research committee was to explore the various mentoring activities, both formal and informal, that exist at NIU. Preliminary conversations revealed that no formal campus wide mentoring program exists. Several Commission members were interested in increasing mentoring activities, particularly for women staff and faculty. The agenda will be revisited in the 2010-2011 academic year. However, in an effort to demonstrate commitment to an increased presence of formal mentoring at NIU, PCSW Commission members are planning to reformulate the PCSW “Outstanding Mentor” award so that the winners of the award are required to deliver a presentation on mentoring strategies and techniques to the NIU community.

Awards and Recognition Subcommittee

Of the over 90 unique nominations for Outstanding Women Students, 49 students were recognized at the April 17th Awards Gala. In addition to the student awards, the following persons received the remaining PCSW awards:

  • Martha Cooper Journalism Award-Rikki Cottrell, Student, Northern Star

  • Wilma D. Stricklin Award-Virginia Cassidy, VP for Academic Planning & Development, Provost’s Office

  • Women Who Make a Difference Award-Sue Saari, Business Manager, Vice Provost’s Office

  • Outstanding Mentor Award-Julie Robertson, Professor, Nursing & Health Studies

Campus Climate Subcommittee

This academic year, the committee chose to focus on raising awareness and improving the content of NIU lactation, stalking, and domestic violence policies. In conjunction with the Women’s Resource Center, NIU Human Resources Department representatives and other NIU committees, Commission members reviewed existing policies and encouraged administration to provide a status report on the acceptance and implementation of such policies.

Furthermore, the Commission discussed an action plan designed to market, publicize and educate the NIU community on available campus wide lactation resources. Work completed towards this end includes the development of a draft database that contains the locations of existing lactation spaces. The committee proposes to make the database and policy available on the Commission website as well as on other pertinent websites (i.e. WRC; Women’s Studies, Human Resources).

The committee will explore how to support university efforts in publicizing information about stalking and sexual harassment. The committee is also interested in advocating that these draft policies are made official university policies.

The committee managed two successful initiatives this academic year: Wage Project "$mart $tart" Workshops and Monthly Networking Luncheons.

Wage Project "$mart $tart" Workshops

Committee members received Commission support and financial support from the President’s office to facilitate two Wage Project "$mart $tart" workshops. Last academic year, two Commission members, Winifred Creamer and Alice Ralph, received training from Wage Project staff to deliver "$mart $tart" workshops. The workshops are designed to provide women entering the workforce salary negotiation skills that will assist them in securing fair and equal pay.

The two workshops were delivered during the Spring Semester. Our first workshop on March 23rd had 12 participants and was held in Gabel Hall. Our second workshop on April 7th had 17 participants and was held in Barsema Hall. The workshops also facilitated the training of three additional trainers. Evaluations of the training were positive and PCSW plans to offer additional training sessions during the 2010-2011 academic year.

Networking Luncheons

In order to provide networking opportunities for NIU community members, the PCSW with the President’s support, sponsored six networking luncheons during the 2009-2010 academic year. The members of the committee instituted a new marketing campaign that included maximizing the benefits of conducting email blasts, posting flyers and using existing NIU electronic distribution channels. As a result of the added effort, our average attendance increased by 50% from the previous academic year.