Ceremony to highlight ‘trailblazing women’


Photo by The Shield

Marcia Kiessling, associate provost for Student Affairs and Betty Rice, wife of former university president David Rice, admire Rice’s award at the 2015 Phenomenal Women Ceremony. Rice helped link the university to the rest of the Evansville community and would plan and hosts events on the campus during her time here.

As the Phenomenal Women ceremony approaches on March 23, The Shield talked to organizer and Multicultural Center Director Pam Hopson about the event honoring females in the community. The ten honorees this year include USI students, faculty and women from the Evansville area.

The Shield: What is the history of Phenomenal Women?

Hopson: We’ve been doing it for a while now. We started in 2003, and this will be our 14th year. Its purpose is to recognize contributions of women not only on USI’s campus but in the community. For the university’s 50th anniversary, we recognized 50 women… other years we’ve honored approximately ten women.

The Shield: How are honorees chosen?

Hopson: Our office is not involved in the selection process. Individuals who are not attached to the office and are impartial choose  based on criteria listed on our website. They’re primarily looking for females who have contributed in the areas of diversity and inclusion.

The Shield: Why is having an event honoring women so important?

Hopson: For so long, women were left out of history. They were included sometimes, but only in segments. It’s important for people to realize women excel in all areas. The honorees come from all different walks of life with varying experience.

It’s important for college-age students to see that as they pursue their career. It’s positive reinforcement, showing that yes, you can do whatever your heart desires.

The Shield: What’s special about this ceremony?

Hopson: We have a speaker, former honoree Lou Porter, the executive director of the Evansville African-American Museum. It adds some spice to hear from someone who’s received the award and what it’s meant to them. Also, the purpose of having a speaker is to inspire. Her theme will be “honoring trailblazing women.”

We don’t often get the recognition we deserve as women, and I think it’s always uplifting to see women from all walks of life celebrate one another. Not tear each other down, but lift one another up.

The Shield: What do you hope attendees gain from attending the ceremony?

Hopson: It’s an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments of the ten women being honored. I hope everyone walks away inspired and not feeling hopeless…I have yet to see someone leave not inspired by this program.

The ceremony is 6-8 p.m. March 23 in Carter Hall. Tickets are $5 for students and children and $10 for adults.