Thursday, May 01, 2008

Women's Center hosts annual Garden Party

By Courtney Westlake

The Women's Center held its annual Garden Party and Awards Ceremony on Thursday afternoon, May 1, at the Women's Peace and Friendship Garden at the campus pond.

The Center gave out two awards: the 11th Naomi B. Lynn Award for Contribution to Environment for Women at UIS and the 4th Women's Issues Caucus Student Activism Award.

Nominees up for the Naomi B. Lynn award were Dr. Heather Dell, associate professor of Women and Gender Studies, Amanda Page, student, and Dr. Kent Redfield, professor of Political Studies. Nominees for the student activism honor included Jimmy Brower, Amanda Looney, Katelyn Murray, Renee Rathjen and Ashley Rook.

Dell was selected as the recipient of the Naomi B. Lynn Award. She recognized that she could not have gotten the award by herself and thanked many of those who supported and encouraged her.

"Heather's work is deep in the core of human condition," said Lynn Otterson, director of the Women's Center. "Students respond well to what Heather Dell teaches, and how she teaches and mentors. The students I know never leave what they learn in Heather's class at the door."

Brower received the honor of the WIC Student Activism Award. Brower served as the chair of Queer-Straight Alliance, was involved with the Women's Issues Caucus and coordinated the Great Midwestern Wigout, among many other activism roles he held on campus.

"I think we can do great things at UIS; I'm committed to that, and I know all of you are," Brower said. "I couldn't be more honored to be one of the nominees with these five people. They're my peers, and I've worked with them so hard doing so many things over the past five years, and I owe a lot of that to all of you."

Before the awards were given, Otterson told the gathered crowd about the significance of the Peace and Friendship Garden, which was built in 1997. Many aspects of the garden, such as the chimes, bench, birdhouse and more, were added in honor of the recipients of the Naomi B. Lynn Award each year.

"This garden is a communal effort of the community; it's a wonderful thing," Otterson said. "It really does continue to grow every year."

Naomi B. Lynn, former UIS chancellor, was present during the event and commended the Women's Center for its work, as well as the efforts and dedication of the nominees.

"I wanted to congratulate each and every one of you," said Lynn. "You're our next generation; that's what it is all about, and that's why we're here."