URI Association for Professional and Academic Women announces 2006 Woman of the Year

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KINGSTON, R.I — May 19, 2006 — The University of Rhode Island’s Association for Professional and Academic Women recently announced that Sociology and Anthropology Chair Helen Mederer is the 2006 Woman of the Year. The association held a reception and award ceremony in early May honoring the West Kingston resident for her outstanding work on behalf of women at the University.

“Helen’s goal is to transform the way URI deals with workplace issues and to make URI a more family-friendly and worker-friendly environment,” said Lenore Martin, association president and associate professor of cell and molecular biology.

Mederer, who joined URI in 1984, has been an active member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women at URI since 2004. In addition to her work as a professor of sociology, she is a member of the ADVANCE research grant leadership team, which creates greater opportunities for women in science. She was the primary author of the proposal for the new family-leave policy that has been accepted by URI President Robert Carothers.

The sociology professor has created new undergraduate courses, including Work and Family Life, Caring and Gender Equality and The Value of Caregiving. She also worked as the associate editor of the Journal of Family Issues and the Journal of Marriage and Family from 1998 to 2005 and has authored and co-authored eight publications.

Before coming to URI, Mederer worked as an assistant professor of sociology and research scientist at the University of Minnesota and as an assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn. She earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania and her doctorate in sociology from the University of Minnesota.

WOMAN OF THE YEAR: Helen Mederer, left, is all smiles as she accepts the 2006 Woman of the Year award from the URI Association for Professional and Academic Women. Joining her during the ceremonies is Grace Frenzel, right, a psychologist in the URI counseling center. URI News Bureau photo by Michael Salerno Photography