2015 Commission for Women award recipients announced, lauded for achievements

April 22, 2015

Each year, the Commission for Women honors women who have shown notable leadership and who are accomplished in their fields, have supported the University’s diversity efforts and promoted equal opportunity, and/or have contributed to human causes and public service activities. The 2015 Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award and the Achieving Women Awards acknowledge and exemplify the achievements and contributions among Penn Staters, reflecting the University’s mission of mentorship, leadership, service and promoting diversity.

The honorees received their awards at the ninth annual Commission for Women luncheon on Thursday, April 2. The keynote address was delivered by Susan Russell, Penn State Laureate and associate professor of theatre in the College of Arts and Architecture.

Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award

The Rosemary Schraer Mentoring Award was created in memory of Rosemary Schraer, former associate provost for Penn State. It honors a current University employee who exemplifies Schraer's giving of herself as a mentor. This year’s recipient was E. Michele Ramsey, associate professor of Communication Arts and Sciences and Women's Studies at Penn State Berks.

Ramsey has served the University for 16 years, and for six of those years has been a program coordinator for both American Studies and Communication Arts and Sciences. During her tenure at Penn State, Ramsey’s mentoring reach has extended from her faculty and staff colleagues to students and girls in the community. According to her nominator, Laurie Grobman, “Michele lives and breathes the notion that women are women’s best allies and that we learn best from one another. Furthermore, she feels and acts on a sense of responsibility to assist girls in our community to combat social constructions of gender that hinder their success.”

Achieving Women Awards

The Achieving Women Award recognizes Penn State women who have shown notable leadership and accomplishment in their fields, and have gone beyond the requirements of their employment duties and responsibilities in support of the University’s diversity efforts, promotion of equal opportunity or contribution to human causes and public service activities. The following people were honored:

Undergraduate Student

Jennifer Kearney

Undergraduate senior, College of Engineering

In 2014–15, Kearney was selected as Women in Engineering Program Orientation (WEPO) overall lead, the pinnacle of WEP leadership. In her highly visible role, Kearney affects more than 185 first-year women engineering students from campuses throughout the Penn State system and directs more than 50 upper-level undergraduates. In this role, she directed the WEPO Leadership Team of fifty-two people and coordinated all logistics for 235 undergraduates for a three-day immersion in the engineering career path.

Additionally, Kearney founded the Penn State Chapter of Bridges to Prosperity (B2P) in 2013, and served as B2P president from 2013–14. In this role, she planned, coordinated, and managed all aspects of a five-week trip to Panama in 2014 for a team of ten engineering students. The team designed and built a 240-foot pedestrian bridge connecting impoverished Panamanian citizens to education, healthcare, and resources on the opposite side of a torrential river.

Graduate Student

Aparna Parikh
Second-year doctoral graduate student, geography, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences

For her doctoral dissertation, Parikh is examining feminized labor and shifting urban landscapes associated with globalization, specifically by undertaking a comparative analysis of the experiences and labor of graveyard-shift call center workers, most of whom are women, in the Philippines and India. Her research interests in gendered labor and urban landscapes builds off of her master’s thesis work, which she conducted in Penn State’s Department of Architecture. She has been awarded a prestigious Social Science Research Council pre-dissertation to launch this research, and it is a project that reflects the social justice and equity orientation in Parikh's academic work.

Staff Nonexempt
Dianne Crust

Administrative support assistant, Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, College of Engineering

A 25-year employee of Penn State, Crust has served in various roles within the College of Engineering’s Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Co-nominator Karen Thole attributes the organization and success of the department’s inaugural Mechanical Engineering Alumni Society in 2006 directly to Crust, who saw the need to help organize and provide support to Mechanical Engineering alumni, even though such support was not part of her day-to-day duties. She attends society meetings on weekends and during off-hours, orders food and prepares information for special events, and also works at special events during off-hours as well. In her administrative support role, Crust joined the pilot program for Penn State’s purchasing card scanning system and has since worked with the purchasing department to upgrade the scanning system that is currently being used University-wide.

Staff Exempt
Marly Doty
Assistant Director of Student Affairs, Penn State DuBois

Doty’s various and innovative activities in support of and with campus students include: organization of a “Coming Out Day” and other programming in support of Penn State DuBois’s LGBT community; organizing and leading student participation in the regional Martin Luther King Day of Service for western regional campuses; designing New Student Orientation activities, including a community outreach day for approximately 200 first-time students; and planning and leading student volunteering trips over spring break week for the past eight years, with activities that included Hurricane Katrina clean-up, soup kitchen work in the nation’s capital, and working with children at Indian Reservation Schools in Arizona.

Technical Service
M. Tracy Millbyer

Food service worker, Housing and Food Services, Auxiliary and Business Services, Penn State Hazleton

Millbyer has been employed as a food service worker in the Higher Grounds Café, the full-service coffee shop at Penn State Hazleton, since its opening on campus seven years ago. She is currently the only full-time technical service employee in the café. She is noted by her supervisor as always punctual and consistent on the job, exemplifying professionalism in her skilled work, and displaying good judgment and a polite manner.

In her position, Millbyer trains student employees of the Café in all areas of the job. The Higher Grounds work space is compact, but she turns what could be a challenging work environment into a family atmosphere for the other employees and student workers. Even when constrained within a small space, she prides herself on offering service that is, as one supporting letter author stated, “fast and unflustered. I’m always impressed at how Tracy and her team work together to handle everyone’s orders as quickly as possible.”

Faculty (a tie, with two recipients)

Sarah Bronson
Associate professor, College of Medicine

Bronson was appointed director of Research Development and Interdisciplinary Research in the College of Medicine within the past year, and as such she engages with investigators at all levels to help them craft research projects, identify the best agencies to which to submit research ideas for funding, and brainstorm new funding opportunities using internal funds to support innovative applications to funding agencies.

Nominator Harjit Singh describes Bronson as “passionate” about her work. Her passion for her field is equally apparent inside the classroom working with students and outside the classroom working to develop better courses, better graduate programs, and a better environment for our graduate students.

Jo Dumas
Senior lecturer, College of Communications

Dumas has been employed by Penn State for 19 years, and has spent the past 12 years in her current position as a senior lecturer in the College of Communications. Although it is unusual for a senior lecturer in the College to have graduate-faculty status, Dumas’s work as a scholar has earned her that appointment. Her scholarly work, which almost always involves issues of gender, aligns with her teaching.

Nominator Marie Harden states, “As a senior lecturer -- not a tenure-track professor -- Dr. Dumas has no career-track reason to do research, as she carries a teaching load that does not easily facilitate it. But she has published around issues of gender and technology, and she has presented at conferences around the globe…but where Dr. Dumas’ contributions are unparalleled is in the area of service -- across the University and the community, as it relates to diversity and opportunity.”

Shari Routch
Director, University Relations, Penn State Altoona

Routch has served as the director of University Relations at Penn State Altoona for the past 15 years. As such, she also serves on the Chancellor’s Council. Chancellor Bechtel-Wherry, her nominator, notes that “Shari possesses critical thinking skills and an unflappable demeanor during emergencies that makes her an excellent adviser to the chancellor and other senior administrators.”

Routch is well respected by the local media and is widely acknowledged as one of the voices and faces of Penn State Altoona in the surrounding communities. Routch’s team took over the task of organizing the off-campus graduation ceremonies for the campus a few years ago, and the results have been a resounding success with positive remarks from all who attend.


Next year's Commission for Women awards luncheon will be held on Friday, April 8, 2016

The Commission invites all members of the University community to look around your area, notice that special person who deserves the honor of a 2016 Commission for Women award.  It’s never too early to start gathering letters of support.  When the nominations open for next year, you’ll be ready to submit your packet, and you’ll also be able to check the registration date at the same time.  Just put a note on your calendar to visit the CFW website near the end of January 2016: http://equity.psu.edu/cfw/awards

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 27, 2015