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Elizabeth Cole, Professor of Women's Studies, Psychology and Afroamerican and African Studies and Chair of the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies was honored with a 2013 Sarah Goddard Power Award for her research on women and her leadership in support of diversity. The ceremony for the 29th annual awards, presented to individuals who have demonstrated scholarship, leadership and support of women faculty, took place on February 13, 2013. Professor Mieko Yoshihama of the School of Social Work and Professor Avery Demond of the College of Engineering also received the award.
Professor Cole’s research is rooted theoretically in women's studies and methodologically in psychology. Her work examines the social construction of categories such as gender, race, and social class through a combination of theoretical and empirical work. She has been strategic and effective in her scholarship demonstrating the feminist theoretical tool, intersectionality.
As Chair of the Women’s and Gender Studies Department, she has led the department in successful searches for new women professors, guided junior colleagues, and executed a triumphant and memorable celebration of the 40th anniversary of Women’s and Gender Studies at Michigan. Her leadership and ability has transformed the department and brought visibility to its faculty and students.
She has supported the role of women and scholars of color by examining policy issues that disproportionately affect those groups. She has participated in task forces for the division of the psychology of women and has played a continuing leadership role in the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI). Professor Cole was instrumental in leading the Global Feminisms Project, creating oral history documentation of the US women's movement. This project has created an important archive for future scholars.
She takes an active role in education, and as Chair has taught the large (250-student) introductory course. Under her leadership, Women’s and Gender Studies received the LSA Departmental Excellence Award in Undergraduate Education. She is described as an inspiring and caring colleague, and an encouraging, attentive and active mentor. Professor Cole seeks opportunities to advance the professional careers of women and scholars of color. She supports the careers of students by including them in key roles in research, and inviting them to coauthor papers and participate on panels.
The award was presented by the Academic Women's Caucus, which was founded in 1975 by women working to overcome inequity issues in the workplace. It aims to support academic women and presents the Sarah Goddard Power Award to distinguished faculty and senior administrative staff including instructors, lecturers, primary researchers, librarians and curators affiliated with the university. Awardees are nominated based on their contribution to the betterment of women through scholarship, leadership and service.
The award was established in memory of Sarah Goddard Power, a former regent who was a strong advocate for women within the university.