Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center April 2021 Newsletter

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Women's Center 2 E-Newsletter [Vanderbilt University]

April 2021 Newsletter

This spring, the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center named five individuals from the Vanderbilt community as recipients of its annual awards.

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Leadership Award honors an undergraduate or graduate student who demonstrates leadership in activities that contribute to the achievements, interests, and goals of women or that promote gender equity. This year, a junior at Peabody College was presented with this award.

As editor-in-chief of The Slant, Vanderbilt’s humor and satire publication, Madison Hitchcock has worked to challenge an organization that was formerly hostile to women’s leadership and to create in its place an inclusive and welcoming environment where women’s contributions are valued. Aware that comedy is itself a male-dominated industry, Hitchcock has worked to make The Slant a publication where women’s voices can be heard. According to her nominator, Hitchcock “deliberately focused her recruiting efforts on improving gender parity, and she succeeded. The imbalance of the staff she inherited was remedied” as the staff become 50% female. Another nominator writes: “Madison stands out as one of the strongest and most effective leaders within Vanderbilt’s student media organizations. And she’s funny.”

The Mentoring Award honors a member of the Vanderbilt University community who fosters the professional and intellectual development of Vanderbilt women. This year there are three winners.

The first recipient of the Mentoring Award is Stacey Floyd-Thomas, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Chair in Ethics and Society and Associate Professor of Ethics and Society. According to her nominator, Professor Floyd-Thomas “speaks honestly about the obstacles that women face in the academy and society, especially Black women and women of color, and offers invaluable guidance and support for women students in successfully navigating institutional barriers without sacrificing their wellbeing.” Nominators noted Professor Floyd-Thomas’s assistance as they learned how to maneuver through the academy’s organizational structures as well as the job market itself. One letter writer stated that, throughout “job interviews, contract negotiations, publishing commitments, and the enduring quest toward promotion and tenure, Dr. Floyd-Thomas has remained a steady guide.” Another stated that Professor Floyd-Thomas has always “wanted to do whatever she could to help me succeed.”

The second recipient of the Mentoring Award is Sharon Shields, Senior Associate Dean of Student Empowerment, Engagement, and Development at Peabody College. Dean Shields’s nominator remarks that Dean Shields is a “tireless advocate and staunch supporter” of students; her “generosity with her time, talent, and treasure are boundless.” According to another nominator, Dean Shields is the “moral compass for Peabody College”: “She makes us see what we might have missed otherwise in the heat of trying to solve a problem.” Several of Dean Shields’s nominators noted her talent for recognizing and nurturing potential; one nominator explains that, when she returned to graduate school, Dean Shields “saw a path for me that I was unable to see in the moment—a path that seemed daunting and overly ambitious—but her belief in me made the movement forward an adventure and a possibility.”

The third recipient of the Mentoring Award is Ally Sullivan, Executive Director of Facilities Business Operations. According to her nominator, Ms. Sullivan “demonstrates all the characteristics of a great leader: integrity, honesty, diplomacy, common sense, and personal responsibility. She has empathy for her staff without losing sight of the university’s priorities and needs.” Of Sullivan, one nominator writes that she is an example of a “professional woman who doesn’t have to compromise herself or her family to be successful.” The nominator explains that, through Sullivan, she has learned “how to make my voice and opinions known and respected”; Sullivan “is always willing to listen to her team, develop our ideas and goals, and work with leadership to make them a reality.” Another nominator writes that Sullivan translates leadership’s goals so that her team can achieve them: she provides “support and coaching such that we all feel that we can be successful.”

The Mary Jane Werthan Award is presented annually to an individual who has contributed significantly to the advancement of women at Vanderbilt University. The award honors three qualities characteristic of the first recipient for whom it is named: vision, persistence, and extraordinary skill in interpersonal and institutional relations.

This year’s winner of the Mary Jane Werthan Award is Susan R. Wente, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs. Provost Wente has been a trailblazer at Vanderbilt: she was the first woman to serve as Vanderbilt’s provost and the first woman to lead the university in her role as interim chancellor. In the latter role, she led the university through the early months of the COVID-19 global pandemic; one of her nominators notes that her work at this time required “profound empathy, commitment, transparency, and expertise.” Other nominators commended Wente for her work supporting women at all levels: for example, when she served as chair of the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, she dramatically increased the number of women in the basic sciences at Vanderbilt. As provost, she created the Office for Inclusive Excellence in 2017 and convened the WAVE Council in 2018. As interim chancellor, she appointed the university’s first woman athletic director. Through all of this work, as one nominator stated, Provost Wente served as “an invaluable source of inspiration and counsel as a strong, persistent, and visionary woman leader on campus.” Another nominator writes, “Susan Wente leads the way for those to come.”

Women and Money Management

Monday, April 5, 4:00 p.m. CT

Please sign up here.

AAUW Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop

Tuesday, April 6, 4:00 p.m. CT

Please sign up here.

Reading Days Self-Care Grab & Go

April 7–8

Pick up at the Women’s Center. Sign up here to reserve your bag.

This event is open to undergraduate, graduate, and professional students.

Period Piece

Monday, April 12, 7:00 p.m. CT

Sign up for a free ticket here.


Kids and Boundaries

Thursday, April 15, 12:00 p.m. CT

Please sign up here.


Pandemic Parenting Check-In

Thursday, April 29, 12:00 p.m.

Please sign up here.

Inclusive Book Group: Discussion of Circe

Wednesday, May 5, 12:00 p.m. CT

For information and to RSVP, contact

To get a copy of Circe, please fill out this form.

Project Safe SAAM 2021

For full Sexual Assault Awareness Month event calendar, click here.

Consent on Campus

Donna Freitas, author of Consent on Campus

Thursday, April 1, 5:00 p.m. CT

Please register here.

Reading Series: Making Sense of Now

Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood

Thursday, April 8, 6:00 p.m. CT

Email for Zoom information!


Economic Oppression

Thursday, April 15, 5:30 p.m. CT

The podcast club focuses on the disabled community’s experiences with reproductive oppression. It will be centering the experiences of BIPOC, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ community, and other marginalized groups.

Please register here.


SAAM Speaker Ashlee Haze 

Ashlee Haze, poet, spoken word artist

Thursday, April 15, 7:00 p.m.

Please register here.



VSG Textbook Drive

Monday, March 29 – Monday, April 12

Books can be dropped off at the Women’s Center, HPAO, BCC, the Commons, and Rand.

Apply for the OpEd Project! 

A two-day “Write to Change the World” workshop

Monday, May 17, 10:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. CT

Tuesday, May 18, 10:00 a.m.–1:30 p.m. CT

Application Deadline: Friday, April 23

The application is available here.




Rory Dicker, Director

Brianna Nesbitt, Assistant Director

Bailey Via, Program Coordinator

Zoraida Hu, Graduate Assistant

Libby Crew, Administrative Assistant

Women’s Center  |  Anchor Link Page
(p) 615.32(2.4843)  |

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