LAWRENCE — Since 1970, the Emily Taylor Center for Women & Gender Equity has honored a select group of women to be inducted into the University of Kansas Women’s Hall of Fame. It honors and celebrates KU’s rich legacy of phenomenal women.
“These women are exemplary members of society in both overall impact and outstanding character,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, the center’s director. “This year’s inductees are leaders and trailblazers in their respective fields, reminding us of the importance of women’s voices, contributions and courage in bringing about change in our world. The influence of their numerous contributions and achievements is immeasurable, and these women serve as awe-inspiring role models for all of us.”
This year’s inductees include Sarah Deer, Terry Hoyt Evans, Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Saralyn Reece Hardy, Colleen McCain Nelson and Jan Bowen Sheldon.
In addition, the center recognizes as the Pioneer Woman an exemplary Kansas woman who has made historic contributions of local or statewide significance. This year’s Pioneer Woman is the late journalist and civil rights activist Lucile Bluford, a KU graduate.
A celebration to honor the Women’s Hall of Fame inductees and Pioneer Woman recipient will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, April 25, in the Adams Alumni Center, followed by the Women’s Recognition Banquet at 6:30 p.m. in the Kansas Union Ballroom. Sign up for the banquet online.
Sarah Deer is a scholar, activist and educator who, throughout her career, has centered the self-determination and dignity of survivors of violence with a focus on Native women. She will return to KU in fall 2017, joining the Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies and the School of Public Affairs & Administration in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences as a professor. She is currently a professor of law at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. She is a 2014 MacArthur Fellow and a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Her efforts were instrumental in the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. Deer received her bachelor’s and law degrees from KU.
Terry Hoyt Evans is a nationally renowned photographer, focusing on the Midwest and Great Plains, capturing the land and inhabitants while commenting on ecological and environmental issues of broad social and political importance. Her photography has been featured in museums across the country, including the National Museum of American Art, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Chicago Art Institute; the San Francisco Museum of Art; the Whitney Museum of American Art; the Library of Congress; the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the KU Spencer Museum of Art. She received an honorary degree from KU in 2016. Evans received her bachelor's degree from KU.
Bernadette Gray-Little is the chancellor at KU, serving in this role since 2009. She is the first woman and the first African-American to hold this post. She will be stepping down at the end of this academic year. She is a pre-eminent leader in higher education and a notable scholar and educator. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology at St. Louis University and served as executive associate provost, dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, and executive vice chancellor and provost at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, prior to coming to KU.
Colleen McCain Nelson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former political reporter who has chronicled three presidential campaigns, is a strong voice and leader in the field of journalism and mass communications. She has served as a reporter for the Wichita Eagle, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Dallas Morning News and The Wall Street Journal, where she served as White House correspondent. She currently serves as vice president and editorial page editor for the Kansas City Star, where she shapes the newspaper’s voice and editorial agenda while fostering community conversations. Nelson received her bachelor’s degree from KU.
Saralyn Reece Hardy is the first Marilyn Stokstad Director of the Spencer Museum of Art. Recognized as a national leader in her field, she served as director of the Salina Art Center and director of Museums and Visual Arts for the National Endowment for the Arts and has been involved at the national, regional and local levels in shaping the way in which art is presented, supported and disseminated, seeking new voices and perspectives. Among her many accomplishments, she has led a large-scale renovation of the Spencer. Hardy received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from KU.
Jan Bowen Sheldon is a leader in advancing the quality of life for women and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities and at-risk youths through her research, teaching, service provision and advocacy. She helped found Community Living Opportunities and developed the Truancy Prevention and Diversion Program in the Lawrence community. She also has served as the director of the Edna A. Hill Child Development Center. She is a professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science and is a courtesy professor of law. She has written numerous articles and publications that have influenced policy and practices in her field. Sheldon received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees from KU.