Women share journeys of success at expanded symposium

Some 180 faculty, staff take part in annual event

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Personal journeys of success in personal and professional settings and the techniques that help make them possible were among the topics addressed during this year's University of Colorado Women Succeeding Symposium.

The event, Feb. 24-25 at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, drew more than 180 faculty and staff participants from all four campuses. The CU Faculty Council's Committee on Women has sponsored the annual symposium for the past eight years as part of ongoing efforts to advance and support the success of women in academia.

This year saw the expansion of the symposium to include a dinner event Thursday evening. Karen Jonscher, co-chair of the Faculty Council Women's Committee, said 86 people attended the dinner, which focused on networking between the different campuses.

"It was fabulous," Jonscher said. "The dinner and Network Café focused on support of women at CU and what we can do together and individually."

Jonscher said the committee received positive feedback after last year's symposium. "We've heard of people from last year whose lives were changed by the symposium," she said. "We hope that is happening again this year."

Friday's events began with an early breakfast and keynote address by Susan Avery, president and director of the Woods Hole (Mass.) Oceanographic Institution. Avery previously served as a member of the CU-Boulder faculty and was provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs.

Avery spoke of the decisions and journey that took her from the University of Illinois to CU-Boulder and finally to her current post. She said every decision she has made required the courage to change.

"I've made my decisions based on the potential for personal and professional growth," she said. "I ask myself, 'Can I make a difference and would I enjoy it?'"

Participants spent the rest of the morning attending breakout workshops, with topics ranging from creating sustainable change to the challenge of balancing a career and motherhood.

"I'm a new department chair and all the practical information ... was very useful, especially the use of negotiation in our day-to-day work," said Julaine Field, associate professor in the College of Education at UCCS, on the session addressing negotiation and the gender divide.

Field, chair of counseling and human services, also led a workshop addressing workplace bullying.

"I want people to feel nourished with all the new information and ideas," Field said. "Knowing that someone else can identify with your experiences is empowering and validating."

After the breakout sessions, participants regrouped for lunch and the presentation of the Elizabeth D. Gee Memorial Lectureship Award, which recognizes and honors an outstanding CU faculty member for efforts to advance women in academia, interdisciplinary scholarly contributions and distinguished teaching. Established in 1992, the award honors the late Elizabeth Gee, wife of former CU President Gordon Gee and a faculty member of the CU College of Nursing.

This year's honor went to Laura M. Borgelt, associate professor of clinical pharmacy and family medicine at CU Denver.

"I've been to several symposiums," Borgelt said. "I never thought I'd be up here receiving the award."

She asked attendees to write down a personal passion that made them feel like their truest self. "Whatever you wrote down," she said, "that is your key to academic success."

Borgelt's keynote address outlined her six "Pearls to Success," using her passion of swimming to illustrate each element: being in the moment; exploring the unknown; asking others to engage; uncover your passion and make it your focus; treating yourself and others with empathy, respect and integrity; and knowing you are beautiful.

"I hope you can see that this award honors all of us," Borgelt said in her closing remarks. "We are all beautiful."