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Two receive Women’s Philanthropy Council Champion Awards

October 29, 2009

An emeritus professor of public affairs and political science and a professor in the departments of Bacteriology and Plant Pathology are the recipients of the Women’s Philanthropy Council (WPC) Champion Awards at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The Champion Awards are presented to a man and a woman from campus nominated by their peers for outstanding advocacy to women. The recipients will be honored at the WPC’s Biennial Forum today (Oct. 29), and each will have the opportunity to designate a $5,000 grant to a program benefiting women at the university.

Dennis Dresang is an emeritus professor of political science and public affairs and director of the Center on State, Local and Tribal Governance. He also was research director for a policy initiative of Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor to improve the status of women. For his research and public service on pay equity, he has received distinguished service awards from the Women’s Political Caucus and the Wisconsin Equal Rights Council.

Jo Handelsman is a professor in the departments of Bacteriology and Plant Pathology. She has been active in achieving equity for women and minorities on campus, for which she was recognized in 1998 with the Cabinet 99 Recognition Award and, in 2006, with the YWCA Woman of Distinction Award. She contributed to the creation of the Women in Science and Engineering residence hall; chaired the provost’s Climate Working Group, an initiative dedicated to improving the campus climate for women and people of color; and, through a National Science Foundation grant, was one of the co-founders of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute (WISELI).

“For nearly 40 years, Dennis Dresang has worked tirelessly to advance career opportunities for women and to increase their leadership and management skills, challenging and breaking down barriers to their advancement along the way,” says Carolyn Heinrich, director of the La Follette School of Public Affairs and professor of public affairs. “His commitment to finding ways to improve the climate for women on this campus and throughout government is inspiring.”

Molly Carnes, director of the Center for Women’s Health Research and co-director of WISELI, says, “It is difficult to think of a single person who has done more to advance issues of women in science on the UW–Madison campus and nationally than Jo Handelsman. She has made substantial contributions at the university on many fronts in: the microbial sciences, science education, training mentors, advancing women’s issues and championing diversity.”

Founded in 1988, the Women’s Philanthropy Council is a program of the UW Foundation. The council pioneered new national standards for women as philanthropists, and it is the first major-gift organization for women at a co-educational institution encouraging women’s gifts to all areas of the university. Part of the council’s mission is to advance women at UW–Madison.