Purdue Today presenting profiles on Title IX service awardees

December 13, 2012  

To celebrate the 40th anniversary of Title IX, Purdue has recognized 40 individuals with the Title IX Distinguished Service Award for their significant contributions to the advancement of gender equity in education. Profiles on the recipients will be presented in Purdue Today each month. This month features Martha Oakley Chiscon, Barbara S. Clark, Sally Combs-Dunaway, Barbara Ivy Cook and Cheryl A. Cooky.

Martha Oakley Chiscon

Martha Oakley Chiscon was an instrumental player in creating equal opportunities for women in science disciplines.

Chiscon is professor emerita of biological sciences and associate dean emerita of science. In the mid-'70s, she taught the first Women in Science course in the country to be taught by a school of science, and was integral in forming the Purdue Women in Science Program..

Her leadership included demonstration of the potential for women to pursue science education while still having a family. Chiscon has been quoted as saying: "Very few women were in science when I started teaching. I let them know that a women could be educated, married, and have children and still be normal."

Additionally, Chiscon served as a Faculty Athletic Representative to the Big Ten Conference and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, and was part of the coalition of Faculty Athletic Representatives that brought women student athletes under the umbrella of both the Big Ten Conference and the NCAA 32 years ago.

Chiscon received her PhD from Purdue in 1971 and retired after working in the College of Science for 35 years. 


Barbara S. Clark

Barbara S. Clark was recognized for the Title IX Distinguished Service Award for her efforts to create a sense of community for women in science at Purdue.

As the director of the College of Science Diversity Office and the Women in Science Program, Clark works to provide outreach, mentoring and support programs for female students. WISP operates programs for both graduate and undergraduate women.  Undergraduate WISP is a living and learning community that includes a mentoring and social networking program, which has led to higher recruitment, academic success and student retention of women in the sciences at Purdue.

Clark also has contribute to  Purdue's ADVANCE program, which works toward the advancement of faculty women in academic science and engineering careers.  


Sally Combs-Dunaway

Sally Combs-Dunaway was recognized for her work to create and build women's athletic programs at both Purdue and in the West Lafayette community.

Combs-Dunaway taught physical and health education at Purdue from 1958 to 1967 as part of the women's physical education program. Simultaneously, she worked as the coordinator for women's athletics at the recreational gym.

In 1967, Combs-Dunaway began working for the West Lafayette Community School Corporation, and wrote a health education curriculum while teaching physical education and health. Due to the lack of existing programming, she pioneered a girl's athletic program in the system and was the girl's sports director until 1975.

Upon being invited to return to Purdue, Combs-Dunaway became the director of women's athletic promotions and public relations in 1975. In this position, she initiated a fundraising effort for the women's program called the Sportswomen's Society, which later merged with the John Purdue Club at Combs-Dunaway's retirement. The society was the major fundraising effort to provide scholarships for women's athletics. 

Combs-Dunaway retired from Purdue in 1988.


Barbara Ivy Cook

Memphis, Tenn.-born Barbara Ivy Cook was always aware of issues of gender inequality that were prevalent in society during the mid-20th century. When she asked a favorite professor at the University of Arkansas to write her a recommendation to graduate school, he refused, saying that he thought women shouldn't go to graduate school. Instead of deterring her dreams, that comment only emboldened her.

After earning a bachelor's degree in sociology from the University of Arkansas, Cook went on to earn a master's degree from Syracuse University and a Ph.D. from Purdue. She retired from serving as Purdue's dean of students in 1989. She served as advisor for Purdue's chapter of Mortar Board for 30 years, and Purdue's chapter is now named in her honor.

Cook came to Purdue in 1956 and worked with such pioneering women leaders as Helen Schleman and Beverley Stone. Cook was a faculty member in the College of Education and dedicated her career to advancing women's career opportunities and creating better student experiences. She served as president of the National Association for Women in Education and received the Distinguished Lifetime Mortar Board Member Leadership Award, among many other honors.

"I think women should be proud of themselves," Cook said in a 2006 interview for Purdue Libraries. " … I think women make a wonderful contribution to this world and we need them! And we need them to feel good about themselves."


Cheryl A. Cooky

Cheryl A. Cooky received the Title IX Distinguished Service Award for her work to educate on Title IX topics in both the academic and public setting.

Cooky is a jointly appointed faculty member in the Department of Health and Kinesiology and the Women's Studies Program, and she works to broaden the curriculum offerings in both areas. Her courses challenge students to examine forms of gender-based inequality in sports at the interscholastic and intercollegiate arenas, and give them an applied understanding of Title IX in the realm of athletics.

Cooky's research at Purdue studies how gender shapes cultural meaning, experiences and societal structures in the context of sports. She has published articles relating to the perceptions, barriers and facilitators of urban girls' participation in athletics. Along with publishing in academic journals, Cooky seeks to educate the public about Title IX issues as well, and her research has been discussed in acclaimed news sources such as the New York Times and the Washington Post.

To further her research, Cooky has partnered with the Women's Sports Foundation, the United Nations Development Program and the International Olympic Committee to study issues such as media coverage of women's sports and women in the Olympics, as well as women's and girl's participation in sports in other countries.

Cooky has been a faculty member at Purdue since 2009.


* Profiles on Evelyn Blackwood, Roger Blalock, Beth Brooke, Morgan Burke and Susan Bulkeley Butler

* Purdue's Title IX anniversary website

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