Editorial: Congratulations to UP’s women leaders

By The Beacon | September 5, 2013 1:49am

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Congratulations are in order for several of UP’s women administrators.

First of all, congratulations to Karen Peters, senior associate athletic director and senior woman administrator, for receiving the 2013 Administrator of the Year Award by the National Association of Collegiate Women Athletics Administrators.

Congratulations to Catherine Myers, a UP alum who is returning to The Bluff as the director of industry and community partnerships for the Shiley School of Engineering.

Congratulations also to Laurie Kelley, who was appointed last week to serve as interim vice president of University Relations following Jim Lyons’ departure from the University. Though it is an interim position, Kelley is the first woman to hold a position in the upper reaches of UP’s administration.

Kelley has been indispensable to UP and the success of the RISE Campaign’s launch. She is an excellent candidate for the next vice president of University Relations; the administration should consider her for the permanent position.

UP is also indebted to Joanne Warner, dean of the School of Nursing, who directs a thriving, competitive program for nursing students.

It is also notable that several departments traditionally dominated by men are led largely by women. Peters, for instance, is invaluable to the athletics department. Dean of the Shiley School of Engineering Sharon Jones oversees a top-notch school in a field where women are underrepresented.

Peters, Kelley, Myers, Warner and Jones, as well as other women leaders at UP, challenge the notion that Catholic institutions must be patriarchal places run exclusively by groups of old white men.

It is refreshing to see women leaders at UP. But there ought to be more.

Although women serve the University community on every level, there is still an inequality in the administration. Only 25 percent of the president’s Leadership Cabinet are women, and Kelley is the only woman vice president in UP’s history.

This percentage is especially shocking in light of UP’s student body. Almost 60 percent of UP students are women. The current administration, being overwhelmingly male, is unrepresentative of the students, who are ultimately the people for whom the administration exists.

Furthermore, compared to other Catholic schools, UP falls behind in administrative gender equality. At St. Edward’s University, a Holy Cross school, 11 of 17 administrative leaders are women, including the executive vice president. Seattle University, St. Mary’s College of California and Loyola Marymount University all have higher proportions of women in their senior leadership than UP.

Of course, the administration can’t change overnight. Current male administrators should not be ousted for gender equality. But hopefully when administrative changes happen in the future, the University will continue to recognize and promote women who serve UP with dedication and skill.

To Karen Peters, Catherine Myers and Laurie Kelley, congratulations. And to Sharon Jones, Joanne Warner and the multitude of women staff and faculty members shaping students and making UP a better place, thank you.

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