Hennings wins gender equity, teaching awards

Valerie Hennings, adjunct assistant professor of political science and scholar-in-residence at the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics, recently won awards for her efforts to achieve gender equity as well as her excellence in the classroom at Iowa State University.

In a ceremony on March 25, Hennings was presented with the 2014 Margaret Sloss Gender Equity Award. Presented annually by the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center, the award is given to individuals to acknowledge their commitment to helping women gain equity at Iowa State. Sloss was the first woman to graduate from the College of Veterinary Medicine at Iowa State in 1938. She grew up on the ISU campus, where her father was superintendent of grounds. Her childhood home is now the location of the Margaret Sloss Women's Center, which was established in 1981.

Hennings was nominated for the Gender Equity Award by Dianne Bystrom, Catt Center director, with letters of support from Krista Johnson and Morgan Todd, who worked with Hennings as undergraduate research assistants during the 2013-2014 academic year.

In her nomination letter, Bystrom noted Hennings’ work to develop and strengthen programs designed to promote the inclusion of more women in elected and appointed office in the state of Iowa, including at Iowa State – such as the Women in Iowa Politics database, Gender Balance Project, Ready to Run Iowa™ Campaign Training for Women and Campaign College – and for her efforts to enhance awareness for women’s issues in the classroom and community.

Johnson and Todd underscored these efforts in their letters of support. Johnson, who worked with Hennings to collect data for the Women in Iowa Politics database and to present Campaign College – which is designed to encourage more ISU women students to run for Government of the Student Body and other campus leadership positions – said, “she sets a great example to me and to countless other Iowa State women of what a great leader looks like and why gender equity is so crucial.”

Todd, who has been a student in classes taught by Hennings as well as an intern working on the Gender Balance Project she coordinates at the Catt Center, said “building relationships with students and creating an atmosphere of trust and academic excellence are among her greatest traits.” She added, “I have looked to Dr. Hennings as a role model as to what kind of professional and person I want to be.”

In addition to the Gender Equity Award, Hennings was notified on May 9 that she had been selected for an ISU Award for Early Achievement in Teaching in a letter signed by President Steven Leath and Senior Vice President and Provost Jonathan Wickert. According to their letter, the award recognizes Henning’s commitment to Iowa State, her professional reputation and esteem among her peers. She was nominated for the award by the department of political science. Writing letters of support for her nomination were Bystrom; political science professors Mack Shelley and Steffen Schmidt; political science graduate student Hallie Golay; political science undergraduate students Madeline Becker and Dakota Canning; and Sawyer Baker, who graduated in May 2013 from Iowa State with a degree in political science. Golay and Baker also worked with Hennings at the Catt Center.