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University of Iowa News Release


March 31, 2010

Annual tribute to women at the UI to be held April 7

"A Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women," the University of Iowa's annual tribute to the accomplishments of women at the university, will be held Wednesday, April 7, in the Senate Chamber of the Old Capitol.

A reception will begin at 3:30 p.m., followed by the awards program at 4 p.m. Susan C. Curry, dean of the College of Public Health will present the keynote address for this event, which is free and open to the public. Nicole L. Nisly, interim chief diversity officer, will be master of ceremonies.

This annual event recognizes outstanding scholarship, research, service, leadership and activism among UI undergraduate, graduate, staff and faculty women.

The UI Distinguished Achievement Award will be given to Jennifer Niebyl, professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine, and the Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award will be given to UI Sexual Misconduct Response Coordinator Monique DiCarlo.

NiebylThe Distinguished Achievement Award is presented to staff or faculty members who have significant years of service within the university community, who are pioneers in their work or service, and are role models for women and girls. Niebyl was chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology from 1988 to 2009; she is currently a full professor and active clinician.

"Young women -- or people of any age or gender, for that matter -- seeking an inspiring role model need look no further than Jennifer R. Niebyl, M.D. Through a long and distinguished career at the University of Iowa and elsewhere, she has broken down barriers, discovered and shared new biomedical knowledge, nurtured the careers of hundreds of obstetricians and gynecologists, treated countless patients, and achieved excellence," according to the nomination materials for the award.

Beyond her work teaching clinical and research skills to obstetrics and gynecology trainees, Niebyl's life offers lessons as well in perseverance. She was discouraged early on from considering a career in medicine, and then from specializing in obstetrics and gynecology. She was turned down for residencies in the field by several university hospitals because she was a woman. But after graduating from Yale University Medical School in 1967, Niebyl not only specialized in her field of choice and excelled at it in positions with the New York Hospital/Cornell University Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Hospital, but she pioneered women's leadership in the field. In 1988 she became the first woman to head a department at the UI's medical center, and only the third woman to head a department of obstetrics and gynecology in the United States.

"She has fostered the careers of so many women in this department and in the school at large that it would be nearly impossible to count them all! Dr. Niebyl was personally responsible for recruiting more women faculty members to the Carver College of Medicine than any other single individual, and the department today is made up of a majority of women faculty because of her efforts," said Kimberly K. Leslie, professor and current head of Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. "Many faculty members at the University of Iowa have gone on to become leaders in the field in part because of her many efforts on their behalf."

Niebyl was profiled in the National Institutes of Health publication "Changing the Face of Medicine: Celebrating America's Women Physicians" and was featured in a 2003 exhibition about female physicians at the National Library of Medicine. In 2004 she was named a "Local Legend" by the American Medical Women's Association, and in 1997 she was inducted into the Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars.

The Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award is named for a professor of anatomy who fought an uphill battle for more than a decade to defend herself against slander and sexual harassment from faculty in her department, a struggle that she ultimately won. Given annually by the Council on the Status of Women and the Women's Resource and Action Center, the award honors a faculty, staff or student member of the university community who has demonstrated outstanding effort or achievement in improving the status of women on campus.

dicarloThis year's recipient is Monique DiCarlo. As sexual misconduct response coordinator, DiCarlo is responsible for leading the campus in fostering an environment that promotes and expedites prompt reporting of and response to sexual misconduct, stalking and domestic violence cases involving students. She will also continue to serve as the coordinating contact point to ensure that victims receive appropriate and responsive care and that the university meets its legal responsibilities and strategic goals.

DiCarlo, who has a Master’s of Social Work from the University of Michigan, was the UI Women's Resource and Action Center director from 1994 to 2009. During her tenure, the center created programs that taught social justice skills like Iowa Women Initiating Social Change and the Social Change Training Program, provided resources such as diversity conferences and dialogue circles and a support group facilitators training curriculum. DiCarlo more recently established the Iowa N.E.W Leadership Institute, which engages undergraduate women in public service, and the Men's Anti-violence Council, a program that teaches bystander intervention.

"I have seen her serve spaghetti, paint walls, demand fairness, generate excitement and enthusiasm among crowds of people and raise a great deal of money for WRAC through ingenious fund raising and philanthropic development and cultivation. I have seen her comfort and counsel others and negotiate social situations where a lot is at stake. I believe she is inspirational to students on campus. She is amazing," said Rachel Williams, UI associate professor of art education, in a nomination letter for the Jean Jew award.

DiCarlo is an adjunct instructor in the School of Social Work in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She has also worked with an array of community organizations and initiatives, including the YWCA in the Quad Cities, Iowa Shares and the Iowa City Council Task Force on Violence Against Women.

"Her dedication to women and students at the University of Iowa is contagious and so are her efforts she has made to improve their lives. Our university would not be the same without her and neither would my college experience," said UI student Miranda Welch, who worked with DiCarlo as a WRAC board member. "As an undergraduate student at Iowa, I am particularly thankful for the work Monique has done to foster equality, safety and access to resources for women in the community.

Student scholarships will include the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship, which will be presented to two recipients: Jessica Jacobo, an undergraduate student in interdepartmental studies and clinical lab sciences, and Shandhini Raidoo, a student in the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.

This award was created by a designated bequest to the UI Foundation to recognize qualified female applicants who demonstrate financial need and are committed to women's issues, diversity and social activism. WRAC administers the scholarship and selects its recipients.

The Adele Kimm Scholarship will be given to Jo Butterfield, doctoral student in history and women's studies. In 1992, a bequest from Adele Kimm in memory of her brother S. Conrad Kimm and his wife, Hilda, made it possible for the Women's Studies Program to award the this scholarship to a deserving women's studies student.

The Wynonna G. Hubbard Scholarship will be presented to Jessica Lynn Alston, an undergraduate student majoring in biology and pre-medicine. Established by the late UI Vice President Emeritus Philip G. Hubbard in memory of his wife, the award is given each year to an African-American woman with a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher who demonstrates an unusual interest in the well being of others.

The Ada Johnson/Otilia Maria Fernandez Women's Studies Fellowship will be given to Conner Spinks, an undergraduate student majoring in women's studies and political science. The fellowship is named in honor of two Iowa graduates who are among the first African-American and Latina women to be found in University records. Begun in 1993, the award is given alternate years to an undergraduate or a graduate woman.

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires an accommodation in order to participate in this program, call 319-335-0548 in advance.

For more information, see

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Judie Hermsen, 319-335-3553, or Laura McLeran, 319-335-0011, Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women committee; George McCrory, University News Services, 319-384-0012,