University holds annual Women of Influence Awards

By Shruti Bhatt

The President’s Commission on Women’s Issues hosted the annual Women of Influence Awards on March 14 to recognize the work and accomplishments of women on campus.

Ellin Scholnick, the commission’s chair and the event’s organizer, said the awards celebrate and “honor women on campus who are helping to create a better environment here at the university.”

According to the University of Maryland website, the awards “recognize members of our community who have distinguished themselves by working with and for women on our campus and in our community.”

A panel discussion at the event talked about the history of female faculty and staff at the university. Panelists Vivian Boyd, director of the Counseling Center, Emeritae, and Claire Moses, a founding member of the Women’s Studies program, spoke about the progress made and improvements that still need to happen.

Moses joined this university in 1977 as the first professor in women’s studies and said there were very limited resources back then.

“I had huge amounts of anxiety about lasting here,” she said. Back then, she said, the faculty in women’s studies had no opportunity for tenure. “It took time to be recognized as scholars and to be taken seriously.”

Boyd said progress for women is being made, though it may be slow. She said a question she often thinks of is why the makeup of the faculty is not representative of the students enrolled at the university.

“If we want to be this shining city on a hill, we really need to be models of this university with the notion of inclusion,” Boyd said.

University of Maryland President Wallace Loh also attended the event and said recognizing the work of women means recognizing the work of the university.

“We are involved in a process that happens incrementally,” Loh said. “But this is [a] fight about the heart and soul of our country.”

Six women from the faculty, staff and student body received the Women of Influence awards.

Anna Packy, an undergraduate mechanical engineering and kinesiology major, was one of the recipients. Packy was recognized for her leadership and mentoring for women engineers. She is also the co-founder and president of Women in Engineering Leadership Development (WIELD) on campus and serves as the outreach director for the Society of Women Engineers at the university.

Packy said WIELD is a supportive community that discusses how women feel about being leaders in engineering. She said she has seen many students grow out of their fears by having an open dialogue to voice their concerns.

Packy thanked her professors and advisors for helping her reach this achievement.

“I’m here today because other great women encouraged and pushed me to do my best,” she said.


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