URI English professor named Woman of the Year

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KINGSTON, R.I.—April 28, 2008—Dorothy F. Donnelly, professor of English at the University of Rhode Island, has been named the 2008 Woman of the Year by URI’s Association for Professional and Academic Women. A reception and award ceremony to honor Donnelly for her ongoing commitment to equity and advancement of women was held earlier this month.

Throughout Donnelly’s 25-year teaching career at URI, she has made a lasting impact. Donnelly has served as chair of the English Department and chair of the URI Faculty Senate. She has led the effort on behalf of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) to organize and assist part-time faculty. Recently, Donnelly proposed a Faculty Development Program for the College of Arts and Sciences. The work on this project involved meeting with various faculty groups throughout the college and reviewing national literature dealing with purpose, function and design of faculty development programs. The proposal was approved and implemented by the Dean’s Office.

Although Donnelly is an English professor, she has been involved with the Women’s Studies program on campus as well. In her capacity as English Department chairperson she worked on a proposal for a tenure-track joint appointment with the URI Women’s Studies program. The proposal resulted in the first tenure-track appointment between Women’s Studies and another academic department at URI. In 2005, Donnelly established the Dorothy F. Donnelly Endowment Scholarship Fund with her own contribution of $25,000. Income from the endowment is used to fund scholarships for undergraduate students who chose to major or minor in Women’s Studies.

Donnelly received the University of Rhode Island 2005 Outstanding Outreach Award for her work as co-founder, with the Rhode Island District Court, of the Rhode Island Chapter of the nationally recognized Changing Lives Through Literature Program. The major goal of the program is to attempt to redirect the lives of criminal offenders through reading literature with a message of self-esteem and self-understanding. Donnelly was also the recipient of the Dorcas Place Community Partner Award in 2007 in recognition of her work with and support of the Dorcas Place Adult and Family Learning Center, which provides educational opportunities for low-income Rhode Islanders. She was also a past recipient of the URI Teaching in Excellence Award.

Donnelly has also authored numerous articles, publishing in the major journals in her field on such diverse writers as Plato’s Republic and Dante’s De Monarchia. Her most recent book, Patterns of Order and Utopia, was published in 1999. Her current projects include a biography of Emma Murdock Van Deventer, a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century novelist.

“On behalf of myself and APAW, we are honored to recognize Dorothy for her significant contributions for equity and the advancement of women at URI as well as in the community,” Gina Sperry, executive committee member of APAW.

“I am surprised but extremely pleased to have been selected as the 2008 APAW Woman of the Year,” Donnelly said. “It is an honor to join the earlier recipients who have earned this distinguished recognition.”

The association works to ensure equal recognition and advancement of professional and academic women. The association provides opportunities for URI women to meet and work together across departmental, college, and divisional lines. Annually, APAW recognizes a URI woman for her efforts to advance this mission. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of their active work for equity for professional and academic women at URI and the extent they exceed the requirement of their position in the University. “ The Association of Academic and Professional Women makes a significant contribution to the culture and professional environment at URI through its ongoing series of activities in support of women faculty and staff at URI,” Donnelly said.

Pictured above

WOMAN OF YEAR: English and Women’s Studies Professor Dorothy F. Donnelly, left ,prepares to cut a cake made in honor of her being named the Woman of the Year by Association for Professional and Academic Women. Gina Sperry, association president, joins in the festivities. Photo courtesy Mary Jane Palm, association secretary.