The Tribute to MU Women event was held in Stotler Lounge on Thursday, and five MU women were honored.
The event was part of the Women’s History Month on campus. Presented by the MU Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies, the event presented two types of awards: the Tribute to Women Award and the Alumnae Anniversary Award.
The Tribute to Women Award was created to “honor women who are currently active MU faculty, staff or students and who have: worked above and beyond the expectations of her job responsibilities to help create an environment of equity, fairness and justice for women on the MU campus; demonstrated respect for the diversity of women’s experiences; and, helped promote the advancement of women through education, advocacy, support and activism,” according to the event program.
The WGST Alumnae Anniversary Award honors faculty women on the Columbia campus who are notable for their teaching excellence or other contributions to the education of women.
This ceremony combines two separate awards into one event. Usually, the Tribute to Women’s Award is presented in March and the Alumnae Anniversary Award is given out in the fall, said Ellen McLain, co-chair of the MU Chancellor’s Committee on the Status of Women.
The call for nominations was promoted through MU Info and emails to different listservs around campus, said McLain and Joan Hermsen, chairwoman of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.
Alumnae Anniversary Award recipient LeeAnn Whites, a faculty member of the department of history, was recognized for being an excellent educator and mentor to female students. Her efforts to address issues of gender inequality on campus were also recognized.
“It’s hard to put that into words,” Whites said. “This award that I got is actually from the students. And so, to me, that actually means a lot more to get this from the students, and so I’m very touched that the students would single me out and worked so hard to get me this award.”
The Tribute to Women awards followed the Alumnae Anniversary Award.
Milbre Burch, an honoree in the theatre department, said she felt thrilled and humbled, especially having heard and learned of the women that were honored with her.
“I’m a solo performer," she said. “I’m a professional storyteller and a playwright. I feel pretty convinced that anytime a woman steps on stage it’s an act of activism, and particularly when she is expressing the experience of a woman’s life. I have found ways to do that, that look at health care concerns, that look at domestic violence, that look at gender identity and performance, that look at diversity issues. So I am able to essentially do research in an area that I care about and perform that research.”
Besides promoting female causes through her stage work, Burch has also been involved in projects related to women in the science, technology, engineering and math fields and women’s health issues.
Among the other nominees was Amanda Colegrove, a graduate student studying geography. Colegrove was honored for her active work in Stop Traffic, an organization that aims to educate people about human trafficking and find ways to end it. She is also working in advancing legislation and law enforcement connected to human trafficking in mid-Missouri, which disproportionately affects women.
Women’s Center coordinator Suzy Day was honored for her work in educating the MU community about women’s issues and creating a safe and supporting atmosphere in the Women’s Center.
“I’m really excited and humbled," Day said. "I really appreciated that a student nominated me. That meant a lot."
Kim Lambert, a staff member of the Total Person Program, was honored for supporting female student athletes by developing programs such as Women 4 Women and creating a welcoming and supportive atmosphere among members in the MU community, even those on different athletic teams.
“I’m pretty honored," Colegrove said. "I think that there are a lot of great women on campus and to be chosen for tribute is quite special."