URI professor selected ‘Woman of the Year’

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Karen Stein chosen by R.I. Commission on Women

KINGSTON — September 5, 2007–The Rhode Island Commission on Women has named Karen Stein one of three “2007 Women of the Year.” Stein is a University of Rhode Island English professor and one of the founders and the current director of URI’s Women’s Studies Program.

The Rhode Island Commission on Women is a 26-member commission. The non-profit state agency’s mission is to advance women toward full equity.

The commission’s annual award recognizes women who demonstrate a significant positive impact on the lives of women in the state through their work as role models and mentors.

Stein, a Kingston resident, began as a part-time lecturer for the URI English Department in 1970, focusing on modern North American women writers. Two years later, she helped found and develop the Women’s Studies Program at the University. The program began with 200 students and 10 faculty members. With Stein’s guidance, it has grown to encompass more than 1,000 students involved in more than 25 interdisciplinary courses.

In addition to developing the introductory course in women’s studies, Stein helped develop the senior seminar, which helps launch women’s studies majors into their professional lives. As an English professor, she developed more than 12 courses on women writers and American authors.

During her years at URI, Stein has headed various committees to improve working conditions for part-time faculty, who are primarily women. She served for two years as the co-chair of the URI President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and helped to develop a new parental leave policy. The URI Commission is currently working on new strategies to address sexual harassment and other issues of concern to women. In 1993, the URI women’s group, the Association of Professional and Academic Women, named Stein its “Woman of the Year.”

Stein has dedicated her time to promoting the equality and advancement of women, not only within the university community, but throughout the state as well. She volunteered as an English as a second language tutor for two years, and prepared women from Iran, China, Korea and Brazil, to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language. This test, if passed, enabled the women to enter college and be certified for professional jobs similar to ones they held in their home countries.

“I’m excited, humbled, and grateful,” Stein said about winning the award. “This award is not just for me, I’m like the tip of the iceberg. Many people helped build the organizations that I currently represent or work for, so I am enormously grateful to accept the award on their behalf.”

The “2007 Women of the Year Award” dinner will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 3, at the Radisson Airport Hotel in Warwick. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., followed by dinner and the awards program at 7 p.m. Tickets for the event cost $45.

For information on this event, or to purchase tickets, call the R.I. Commission on Women at 401-225-6105 or e-mail swells@ricw.ri.gov.