Skip to main content

12 earn Cook Awards for improving campus climate for women

Cook awards luncheon
Jason Koski/University Photography
President David Skorton, far left, attends the Constance E. Cook and Alice H. Cook Recognition Awards recognition luncheon March 10 with honorees, front row from left, Yuan Kang, Anastasia Handwerk, Sarah Evanega, Theoria Cason and Eric Acree; and back row, Rebecca Donnelly, Michelle Forella, Charles Brittain, Anne Rocheleau and Safiya Miller-Benjamin.

Eight individuals and the officers of a women’s leadership organization received Constance E. Cook and Alice H. Cook Recognition Awards for their contributions to improving the climate for women at Cornell. The awards were presented by President David Skorton and the recipients’ nominators at a recognition luncheon March 10 at Willard Straight Hall.

The Cook Award Committee and the University Diversity Council select the winners from nominations made by members of the Cornell community.

The 2015 recipients are:

Eric Acree, director of the John Henrik Clarke Africana Library. Acree has served on the Cornell Advocates for Rape Education Committee and as a member of the Men Against Sexual Violence Committee. He was recognized for his consistent support of female students, staff and faculty.

Charles Brittain, professor and chair of the Department of Classics from 2007-14, who championed the hiring of two tenured women faculty and conducted a series of job searches resulting in the appointment of four female tenure-track professors and a postdoctoral associate in a department that was starkly underrepresented, adding previously unrepresented expertise to the department.

Theoria Cason, director of Ujamaa Residential College since 2011 and co-adviser to the Women of Color Coalition, which fosters community and leadership of black female students. She oversees and co-created the CORE RA program, which teaches undergraduates how to talk about and combat sexual violence.

Susan Daniel, associate professor of chemical and biological engineering, who founded her department’s female graduate student group, CBE Women, in 2009. The group, which Daniel mentors, has provided professional development opportunities to graduate students and hosted outreach activities for girls. Daniel also has championed an annual outreach event to inspire rural high school girls to pursue careers in engineering.

Sarah Evanega, senior associate director of International Programs in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, who fostered establishment of the IP-CALS initiative AWARE – Advancing Women in Agriculture through Research and Extension. AWARE ensures that gender is considered in all IP-CALS activities, and the program established a seminar series that hosts international speakers on gender in agriculture.

Safiya Miller-Benjamin, an MBA candidate at the Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, who offered herself as a resource to prospective female students by assisting with the MBA admissions processes and provided career mentorship to women. Miller-Benjamin was elected chair of the Johnson Student Council.

Julia Thom-Levy, associate professor in the Department of Physics, is faculty research adviser for the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program and is a leader of the Women in Physics group, which has expanded to include women faculty and staff in numerous departments. Through her membership in the American Physical Society Site Visit Program she has diagnosed problems related to the climate for women at Cornell.

Anne Rocheleau, a doctoral candidate in the field of biomedical engineering and a founding member of the graduate branch of Cornell’s Society of Women Engineers. The group has organized hands-on studies for local fourth-grade classrooms to inspire them about STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.

Michelle Forella, Yuan Kang, Anastasia Handwerk and Rebecca Donnelly, officers of the student chapter of the Women’s Veterinary Leadership Development Initiative. They have coordinated events aimed at encouraging female veterinarians to seek leadership positions.

The awards are named for Constance Cook, Cornell’s first woman vice president, and Alice Cook (no relation to Constance), one of the first women faculty members at the ILR School. Both were early advocates for women at Cornell.

Media Contact

Joe Schwartz