RIT writing awards named for Mary Sullivan, former COLA dean

Student writers of subjects involving Women’s and Gender Studies topics eligible for $250 prize




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Mary Sullivan, who was dean of RIT’s College of Liberal Arts from 1977 to 1987, and current COLA Dean James Winebrake last December.

Two awards for Rochester Institute of Technology students writing about issues relating to women and gender will be named after Mary C. Sullivan, a teacher and administrator at RIT for more than 33 years.

The awards, sponsored by the women’s and gender studies program in RIT’s College of Liberal Arts, will be given March 23 at the Henry and Mary Kearse Distinguished Lecture and Student Writing Award Ceremony in RIT’s University Gallery. Sullivan plans to attend the event to personally deliver the two awards, which will each be accompanied by a $250 prize.

“She models an impressive combination of scholarship, teaching, writing, leadership and community activism which we know inspires our students,” said Laura Shackelford, an associate professor in the Department of English and current director of the women’s and gender studies program. “She’s inspiring because of her relentless efforts to not only increase knowledge and awareness, but to put her insights into practice and share these with multiple and global communities through writing, speaking, fundraising and advocating efforts of many kinds.”

Sullivan was formerly the chair of RIT’s Academic Senate and headed the English department. In 1978, Sullivan was named dean of RIT’s College of General Studies, which became the College of Liberal Arts in 1982. She served as dean until 1987.

Sullivan, a member of the order of the Sisters of Mercy, is also an internationally known expert on Catherine McAuley, who founded the order. She also is a core member of Mercy Focus on Haiti, which responds to the needs of residents in Haiti.

“She still has a commitment to building knowledge and helping people around the world,” Shackelford said.

One of the awards will recognize an outstanding written essay that addresses a topic of importance to women’s and gender studies, which could include gender, sexuality, culture, ethnicity and race. The second will recognize an outstanding community-based knowledge-building project involving women’s and gender studies issues, either on campus or in a local community.

“We are delighted to establish these new writing awards that recognize and celebrate student work in women’s and gender studies,” said James J. Winebrake, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “And we are especially pleased to name the awards after Dean Sullivan, who remains an influential and inspirational figure for our students and faculty.”

Instructors may nominate entries for submission by March 1. Submission guidelines will be available on the women’s and gender studies program website or by contacting Chris Henry Hinesely, co-director of the women’s and gender studies program.