Celebrating excellence and achievement

Celebrating excellence and achievement

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Annual event honors women leaders on campus April 9

Nicole Nisly champions the health rights of underrepresented diverse groups, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community, minorities, and imprisoned women.

Nicole Nisly
Nicole Nisly

Nisly, a University of Iowa Health Care physician in internal medicine, will be one of several women leaders on campus who will be honored at the annual UI Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 9, in the Iowa Memorial Union Second Floor Ballroom.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a reception from 3 to 3:30 p.m. and also honors promising student leaders.

Nisly will receive the Jean Y. Jew Women's Rights Award. Adalaide "Dee" Morris, English professor in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), and Cheryl Ann Vahl, advanced registered nurse practitioner in the Department of Internal Medicine in the Carver College of Medicine, will receive the Distinguished Achievement Award.

UI Tippie College of Business Dean Sarah Gardial will present the keynote address, and Laurie Haag, program developer at the UI Women's Resource and Action Center, will give the celebration introduction.

Jean Y. Jew Award

The Jean Y. Jew Award is given annually by the Council on the Status of Women and the UI Women's Resource and Action Center and honors a faculty, staff, or student member of the UI community who has demonstrated outstanding effort or achievement in improving the status of women at the university.

Nisly was nominated for this award because of her vision to help create and open the LGBTQ Medical Clinic at the UI Health Care Iowa River Landing clinic in Coralville and for developing educational programing to expose medical residents to care of underserved and vulnerable populations. She also founded the Complementary and Alternative Medicine Clinic and has been the director since 1998. Since 2007 Nisly has also served as the diversity officer for the Department of Internal Medicine, co-chaired the UI Charter Committee on Diversity for five years, and filled in as the interim UI Chief Diversity Officer and Associate Vice President.

According to one of Nisly's nominators, "She is a strong advocate for women…She also developed a medical rotation that exposes medical residents to health disparities, including providing health care at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women. She has received the Award for Best Doctor’s in America six times since 2007, and also received the Patient’s Choice Award in 2012 and the 2012 Most Compassionate Doctor Award. She also volunteers to staff the Carver College of Medicine's medical student led mobile clinic."

Distinguished Achievement Award, Faculty

Adalaide "Dee" Morris
Adalaide "Dee" Morris

Morris was nominated for a Distinguished Achievement Award because she is a "key cornerstone in the multi-faceted edifice of the English Department and the profession for an amazing 39 years." She is being honored as a leader, innovator, mentor, and role model who has garnered numerous awards and served in a variety of national professional roles. She served as the chair of the UI English Department from 1995-1999, an associate chair from 1985-88 and 2007-2010, and as director of graduate studies from 1991-1995.

"In these capacities, Dee not only guided us through difficult fiscal waters but also oversaw crucial faculty searches and mentored the next generation of department leaders," according to her nominators.

She is also an internationally recognized scholar in the field of American poetry who has also had an enormous executive impact on English departments across the nation. Morris will retire at the end of this academic year.

Distinguished Achievement Award, Staff

Cheryl Ann Vahl
Cheryl Ann Vahl

Vahl is an advanced registered nurse practitioner who holds advanced certifications in oncology nursing and hospice and palliative care. She is described by her nominators as "a highly valued and distinguished professional who has made a huge impact on thousands of dying patients and their families, friends, and significant others."

She has worked at UI Hospitals and Clinics for 42 years, 35 of those caring for oncology patients. She has been instrumental in developing the specialty of oncology nursing at UI Hospitals and Clinics; and was a co-founder of the UI Hospitals and Clinics Palliative Care Program in 1999.

Vahl has given more than 50 presentations, conducted research to improve the pain control for patients, assisted with orientation classes for nurses and doctors, published articles and newsletters, and served on many UI Hospitals and Clinics and Nursing Services and Patient Care committees. She has also received many honors including being named to "100 Great Iowa Nurses" in 2006. Her nominators write, "Yet, the greatest honor Ms. Vahl receives is the 'Thank You' from patients, families, friends, and significant others for the comfort she provides to them at the most difficult time: death of a loved one."

Student achievements

In addition, scholarship presentations will recognize six UI undergraduate and graduate students for their work:

Audrey Smith, an undergraduate student in English and creative writing in CLAS from Greensboro, N.C., and Darcelle Skeete, a graduate student in the UI College of Law who is also pursuing a master's degree in health administration in the UI College of Public Health, from Cutler Bay, Fla., will receive the Margaret P. Benson Memorial Scholarship. This scholarship is funded by a UI Foundation bequest that recognizes financial need and commitment to women's issues, diversity, and social activism.

Nicole Richardson, an undergraduate student in biology in CLAS from Waterloo, Iowa, will receive the Wyonna G. Hubbard Scholarship. Philip Hubbard, UI vice president emeritus, established the scholarship in memory of his wife.

Anna L. Bostwick Flaming, a graduate student in the UI History Department in CLAS from Edmond, Okla., will receive the Jane A. Weiss Memorial Dissertation Scholarship.

Ashley Parrish, a graduate student in the UI Department of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies in Interdepartmental Studies in CLAS, from Burlington, Iowa, will receive the Adele Kimm Scholarship.

Sylvea Hollis, a graduate student in the UI Department of History in CLAS from Birmingham, Ala., will receive the Adah Johnson/Otilia Maria Fernandez Scholarship

Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all UI-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. This program will be interpreted in American Sign Language.


Lois J. Gray, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0077


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