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Purdue to honor Violet Haas Award recipient

April 13, 2011

Purdue to honor Violet Haas Award recipient

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth, associate dean for discovery and learning in the College of Health and Human Sciences, is the recipient of the 2011 Violet Haas Award. She will be honored at a reception from 4 to 5 p.m. April 19 at the Armory. 
Established in 1990, the Violet Haas Award recognizes individuals, programs or departments at Purdue that have effectively facilitated the advancement of women in hiring, promotion, education and salary, or have generally enhanced a positive professional climate for women at the University. Wadsworth's name will be added to the Violet Haas Legacy plaque, located in Purdue Memorial Union outside Room 108.
Wadsworth came to Purdue in 1989 as an assistant professor of child development and family studies. She was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and to full professor in 2001. In 1996 she was appointed director of the Center for Families, and in 2000 she became co-director of the Military Family Research Institute (MFRI). In 2007 she became director of MFRI and was appointed associate dean in the College of Consumer and Family Sciences, predecessor to HHS.

Through her work as director of MFRI, Wadsworth has affected the lives of numerous women, both those in the military themselves and those who are wives of armed service members. She has helped ease the lives of wives and mothers left behind during a husband's deployment by reinforcing the efforts of Family Readiness Groups, which provide assistance to women and their families. Wadsworth has advocated for these women through her work with the Department of Defense and the leadership of the armed forces to improve and expand program offerings to better assist military wives and families.
Wadsworth also supports and encourages women on the West Lafayette campus. At MFRI, there are 28 staff members -- 23 of whom are women -- and 20 student employees, most of whom are women. She spends time with each staff member, counseling and coaching them in identifying and achieving their educational and occupational goals.

Wadsworth's work with women who are graduate students is equally impressive. She offers leadership opportunities through the two centers she directs and financial support to students working on issues relating to family health and well-being. Her students see her as an "excellent role model for success and leadership for women in academics." They learn from her direct mentorship as well as by observing her leadership style and skills.
This award, sponsored by the Council on the Status of Women at Purdue, is named for Haas, an electrical engineering professor from 1962 to 1986 who was instrumental in the early development of the Purdue chapter of the Society of Women Engineers. 
The Council on the Status of Women at Purdue was formed in 1988-89 to create a voice for women at Purdue by studying existing University practices and procedures, and addressing women's professional concerns. The group has been active in issues related to women at Purdue, such as advocating for the development of a child care facility and domestic partner benefits.

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