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Women leaders a familiar sight on this campus
By William Carroll | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 9/7/2007 12:19 AM

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Quick read: "Since college students are still growing into an understanding of themselves, this institution tries hard to instruct women that it matters very much how they spend their lives. What they do and how they do it defines them."

Established in 1887 as an all-male college, St. Procopius College (now Benedictine University) first admitted women in 1968. They have been prominent on the campus ever since -- in classrooms, on faculties and on staff. The university continues to be a strong proponent of educating women for positions in the corporate world, industry and the work force. They not only fill important positions off campus when they graduate, they fill many positions at the university.

Rose A. Carney, Ph.D., made a historic breakthrough in 1947 as the first woman to join the faculty. She was the only woman on campus, for women were not admitted as students until 21 years later. Carney worked diligently at Benedictine as a professor and administrator for 42 years to break down barriers that separated women from studying mathematics and the sciences.

She strongly encouraged women to pursue careers in science as she had done. She retired in 1990, and died Feb. 21, 2007. Numerous faculty who studied under Carney remember her fondly.

In 1968, the first group of 44 women enrolled. In succeeding years, the numbers grew rapidly. In 2006, there were 1,523 female and 1,134 male undergraduates. In the graduate programs, there were 764 women and 503 men.

Women have become a dominant presence both as students and faculty. Women consistently bring a different way of thinking, understanding and nurturing to their work. They traditionally want to be part of social change, and are more inclined to form partnerships with people connected to a cause. They also want to see creative solutions to problems. In the last decade, we have seen a significant number of women in leadership roles in corporations, state and city positions in the United States, and abroad.

Since college students are still growing into an understanding of themselves, this institution tries hard to instruct women that it matters very much how they spend their lives. What they do and how they do it defines them. Since the university is a community, students and faculty are encouraged to take notice of the many people who come into one's life. One way or another, these people form a kind of tapestry in one's life.

Last year, Sandra Gill, Ph.D., the dean of the College of Business, received a grant from the U.S. Department of Labor-Women's Bureau to establish the 2007 Greater Chicago Women's Leadership Summit, the first of its kind in the Midwest. A team of women from the university, the women's bureau and the community came together and worked almost a year to design this summit. They were successful in contacting many sponsors excited to support the Women's Summit.

On Oct. 5, the Krasa Center of Benedictine University will welcome speaker Marilyn Miglin, president and CEO of Marilyn Miglin, who will discuss how to put your best face forward, and how her strategy to "stop dreaming and start doing" helped her become one of America's top 500 women business owners.

Emily Barr, president and general manager of ABC 7 Chicago, will address "Balancing on the High Wire," in which she will discuss her career success and how she balances work and family.

Tammy Duckworth, director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, will speak on "Leading Well in a Man's World," and will share her personal stories of leadership success. The emcee is Kristine Cohn, the U.S. Department of Education's regional representative.

The women's leadership summit is designed for local professional women interested in developing their leadership skills while also providing a forum for networking.

I look forward to welcoming women leaders to our campus on Oct. 5.