2022 UWHEN Conference Information
With the rising number of COVID cases in Utah and the uncertainty of future variants, the UWHEN Board of Directors has determined to offer the 2022 Annual Leadership Conference in a Virtual format. Given the success of last year’s virtual conference, we look forward to once again offering quality educational sessions, an engaging keynote speaker, an insightful leadership panel, and acknowledging our peers with our annual leadership awards. We recognize and thank Weber State University for their planning efforts thus far. Please mark April 8 on your calendars, more details to come.
UWHEN Announces New Board Chair
2021-2022 Board of Directors Changes
Welcome to Chair Teri Bladen
On July 1, Teri Bladen became the new Chair of the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN) Board of Directors. Teri Bladen was elected to serve as Chair-Elect for the UWHEN Board of Directors and will become Chair in July 2021. She is the Director of Campus Recreation at Weber State University (WSU), where she guides her team in creating opportunities that inspire engagement in healthy, active lifestyles. Bladen has been involved with UWHEN since 2013 and served on the Mission and Bylaws subcommittee in the creation of WSU's UWHEN chapter. She has served leadership roles in state, regional, and national associations, and embraces the idea of women moving forward together. UWHEN welcomes Teri’s leadership and appreciates WSU’s strong support of the UWHEN mission!
Looking Ahead: Debbie Tahmassebi, Board Chair-Elect
Prior to joining Westminster College as Provost in 2019, Dr. Tahmassebi served as Dean, College of Arts and Sciences (approximately 2,600 students, 350 faculty members, 130 staff), at Santa Clara University from 2015-2019. Her contributions there include launching a new program to support inclusive excellence post-doctoral/post-MFA Fellows across all College departments including a consortium among the AJCU institutions, leading the development of a new virtual reality laboratory space in the Art and Art History building, supporting the development of a new Neuroscience major that became the 7th top major among incoming students in 2 years, and increasing fundraising to the College including 4x overall gifts and 7x in Dean’s discretionary fundraising in 3 years. Prior to that, she served as Associate Dean of Program Development in the College of Arts and Sciences, Chair of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Special Assistant to the Provost at the University of San Diego. Her contributions included the development and support of new College programs and initiatives, oversight of assessment efforts, expansion of undergraduate research, and record growth in sponsored programs. In 2012-13, she was selected as an American Council of Education Fellow to work with President David Burcham at Loyola Marymount University.
Dr. Tahmassebi joined the faculty at the University of San Diego in 1999. As an organic chemist with interests in the synthesis and structural analysis of biologically relevant molecules, she studied novel nucleosides and amino-acid derivatives. Dr. Tahmassebi has mentored several undergraduate students in her laboratory and coordinated the Pre-Undergraduate Research Experience program, an initiative which supports socioeconomically disadvantaged students to attend the University of San Diego and become involved in research early in their academic careers. She earned her Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at the University of California, San Diego.
Gratitude for Past-Chair Angie Walker
Walker currently leads Salt Lake Community College’s online education division as the Director of SLCC Online & eLearning Services and teaches as an adjunct faculty member for Southern New Hampshire University. Regarding her new role, Walker shared, “I’m excited and grateful to have the opportunity to serve as the Chair for UWHEN this coming year! This is an amazing group of women who continue to inspire me. We have a great year ahead of us as we focus on expanding access to UWHEN’s events and resources to support all women across our growing organization.” Previously, Walker has worked across university and college levels as an educational administrator, project manager, assessment and instructional designer, and teacher. Walker holds a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of Utah and a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Instructional Design from the University of Wisconsin - Stout. She also has a graduate certificate as a Higher Education Teaching Specialist from the University of Utah. Walker is passionate about creating a positive and supporting environment for women working in higher education where they can network, learn, and grow. (And, she does precisely that!)
UWHEN 2021 Leadership Award Winners
UWHEN is excited to share the winners of the 2021 Leadership Awards!
Dr. Shalini Kesar, Distinguished Service Award Winner
The Distinguished Service Award this year was given to Dr. Shalini Kesar, Associate Professor and Director of MS-Cyber Security and Information Assurance at Southern Utah University. A nominator noted, “Dr. Kesar’s work and passion elevating women both in higher education and the field of technology is endless. She sits on many Boards to promote leadership and advancement for women. She is a mentor for women and is fearless in the face of gender equality.”
Linda Makin, Special Recognition Award
The Special Recognition Award this year was given to Linda Makin, Vice President for Planning, Budget, and Human Resources at Utah Valley University. A nominator noted, “During her tenure as Vice President, she has led efforts to implement a six-week paid medical maternity leave; introduce, fund, and expand Mamava Lactation Pods on campus for students and employees; measure, monitor, and publish UVU’s efforts related to the ElevateHer Challenge; publish an annual Human Resources report that includes data on women in UVU’s workforce; implement the Search Advocacy program to recruit and retain more female faculty and executives; and influence the revision and implementation of UBHE Policy R805 Gender, Race, and Ethnicity Representation Within the Utah System of Higher Education Workforce.”
Dr. Jessica Preece, Mentorship Award Winner
The Mentorship Award this year was given to Dr. Jessica Preece, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Gender and Civic Engagement Lab at Brigham Young University. A nominator noted, “Jessica actively works with and mentors undergraduate students by involving them in central ways in her research projects. From providing valuable advice and a listening ear to spending countless hours helping students improve their research skills, Jessica has been an incredible mentor and role model to dozens of undergraduate students at BYU, inspiring many to pursue an academic career. She keeps in regular contact with former BYU students who have gone onto graduate school, to ensure they have the mentorship and advice they need to be successful through PhD programs and into their first jobs. Jessica is a truly exceptional mentor.”
Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Emerging Professional Award
The Emerging Professional Award this year was given to Dr. Jennifer Johnson, Assistant Professor and Director of Simulation Education for the PA Program at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions. A nominator noted, “[Jennifer] proved herself to be an ally and has supported our LGBTQ students in times of distress. Over the past several years, she seems to be the faculty member that female students report incidents of harassment to because she creates a sense of safety for students, they know they can trust her, and they know that she will take them seriously, be supportive, make sure that they are heard, and make sure that issues are dealt with swiftly and equitably. Jennifer is a constant strength in the university and a natural leader.”
UWHEN would also like to highligh all of the outstanding nominees this year. They include:
Save the Date! 2021 UWHEN Annual Conference
2021 UWHEN Annual Leadership Conference: Looking Back, Moving Forward
Mark your calendars! The 2021 UWHEN Annual Leadership Conference will be held virtually on April 9, 2021. This year’s conference will include a keynote presentation from Utah Supreme Court Justice Paige Petersen, a panel discussion with UVU President Tuminez, DSU President Williams, WSU President Mortensen, and Westminster College President Dobkin, as well as several great breakout sessions. You won’t want to miss it! Watch for registration to open soon!
UWHEN Announces New Board Chair
2020-2011 Board of Directors Changes
Welcome to Chair Angie Walker
On July 1, Angie Walker became the new Chair of the Utah Women in Higher Education Network (UWHEN) Board of Directors. Walker currently leads Salt Lake Community College’s online education division as the Director of SLCC Online & eLearning Services and teaches as an adjunct faculty member for Southern New Hampshire University. Regarding her new role, Walker shared, “I’m excited and grateful to have the opportunity to serve as the Chair for UWHEN this coming year! This is an amazing group of women who continue to inspire me. We have a great year ahead of us as we focus on expanding access to UWHEN’s events and resources to support all women across our growing organization.” Previously, Walker has worked across university and college levels as an educational administrator, project manager, assessment and instructional designer, and teacher. Walker holds a Master of Arts in Art History from the University of Utah and a Master of Science in Education with an emphasis on Instructional Design from the University of Wisconsin - Stout. She also has a graduate certificate as a Higher Education Teaching Specialist from the University of Utah. Walker is passionate about creating a positive and supporting environment for women working in higher education where they can network, learn, and grow. (And, she does precisely that!)
Looking Ahead: Teri Bladen, Board Chair-Elect
Teri Bladen was elected to serve as Chair-Elect for the UWHEN Board of Directors and will become Chair in July 2021. She is the Director of Campus Recreation at Weber State University (WSU), where she guides her team in creating opportunities that inspire engagement in healthy, active lifestyles. Bladen has been involved with UWHEN since 2013 and served on the Mission and Bylaws subcommittee in the creation of WSU's UWHEN chapter. She has served leadership roles in state, regional, and national associations, and embraces the idea of women moving forward together. UWHEN welcomes Teri’s leadership and appreciates WSU’s strong support of the UWHEN mission!
Gratitude for Repeat Past-Chair Mary Anne Berzins
When asked to comment on her UWHEN experience as both a member of the inaugural UWHEN Board of Directors and as a multi-term UWHEN Board Chair, Mary Anne Berzins (University of Utah) commented, “As I transition to Past Chair, I have spent a little time reflecting on my experience with UWHEN. When I first joined the UWHEN board, as one of the institutional representatives from the University of Utah, being Chair was never a conscious intention for me. I thought I would participate on the board for the required length of time, rotate off, and quietly return to my own little space.”
Berzins continued, “What I did not expect was to enjoy the experience in the way that I have. Being on the board, and then board chair, connected me with many colleagues across the state in ways that I would never have imagined. Making these connections brought both new perspectives and knowledge on a wide range of topics. It is joyful to connect with so many talented colleagues who are generous in sharing their knowledge and experience. Sometimes, being board chair can be onerous, yet, this has not been my experience with UWHEN. I have enjoyed the experience of working with my board colleagues to make available professional development workshops, the annual leadership conference, facilitating the setting up of UWHEN chapters at several institutions, and engaging in substantive conversations about advancing women in the academy. I have grown through this experience, both personally and professionally.”
“Most of all, I have learned that it takes all of us to make UWHEN, as an organization, accessible and relevant to women in our institutions. Over the past ten years, we have achieved much, yet there is much more to do in our evolving landscape. Our work goes on; while it may look and feel different in this COVID 19 era, it is no less relevant today as it was when we started in 2010.”
As a Board of Directors and on behalf of the thousands of UWHEN members that have been served through Mary Anne’s efforts, we express our sincere appreciation for her passion and dedication. (We’re also thankful for a Past-Chair role in which we get to keep her on the Board for another year!)
UWHEN Announces Presidential Sponsor Transition
The UWHEN Leadership Conference is a highlight for many women in higher education across the state. It was a discouraging time when we chose to cancel the 2020 event; we look forward with enthusiasm to learning from each other, renewing and forging connections, and recognizing achievements.
At the Conference, we recognize our Presidential Sponsor and ceremonially transition to the new Presidential Sponsor at the end of the term. In addition to 2020 marking UWHEN’s 10th anniversary, it also is a transition year for our Presidential Sponsorship. While we cannot recognize President Biff Williams (Dixie State University) in person, we nonetheless want to acknowledge his contributions and express our sincere appreciation.
President Richard B. (Biff) Williams is the eighteenth president of Dixie State University. He has served as the UWHEN Presidential Sponsor for three years. From the beginning, President Williams showed enthusiasm, commitment, and advocacy for our organizational success. During his tenure, Dixie State University has hosted the annual leadership conference and developed a vibrant local UWHEN chapter on the campus. President Williams has participated at our Annual Leadership Conference by presenting and serving on panels and starting an ongoing fill-the-bus competition with President Deneece Huftalin (Salt Lake Community College and former UWHEN Presidential Sponsor) to encourage and promote the annual Leadership Conference regardless of its location.
Serving as a mentor to UWHEN Board Chairs, President Williams generously gave of his time and wisdom. “On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank President Williams for his mentorship, advocacy, and support for UWHEN. His energy and willingness to actively engage in our annual leadership conferences are especially appreciated,” said Mary Anne Berzins, UWHEN Board Chair. Thank you, President Williams, for your dedication to the UWHEN mission to advance women in higher education!
We are also pleased to announce our next Presidential Sponsor is President Astrid Tuminez of Utah Valley University. President Astrid Tuminez is the seventh president of Utah Valley University and the institution’s first female president. She brings to UVU a broad and rich experience in academia, philanthropy, technology, and business. Born in a farming village in the Philippine province of Iloilo, President Tuminez moved with her parents and six siblings to the slums of Iloilo City when she was two years old, her parents seeking better educational opportunities for their children.
Her pursuit of education eventually took her to the United States, to Brigham Young University, where President Tuminez graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in international relations and Russian literature. She earned a master’s degree from Harvard University in Soviet Studies and a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in political science.
Before assuming her current position, President Tuminez was a world leader in the fields of technology and political science, most recently serving as an executive at Microsoft, where she led corporate, external, and legal affairs in Southeast Asia. She is also the former Vice Dean of Research and Assistant Dean of Executive Education at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore (the premier school of public policy in Asia).
In 2012, President Tuminez authored a report on women’s leadership in Asia, sponsored by Asia Society and the Rockefeller Foundation, titled “Rising to the Top? A Report on Women and Leadership in Asia.” The report was launched in Shanghai, translated into Vietnamese, and used widely in Asia. As a researcher and advocate for women and leadership, she has given many keynotes on the subject to business, political, financial, and non-profit audiences in Asia and Europe.
President Tuminez and her husband, Jeffrey S. Tolk, have three children. In her spare time, she enjoys running, dancing, and martial arts.
Angie Walker (Salt Lake Community College, UWHEN Board Chair Elect), commented, “The UWHEN board is excited to have President Tuminez stepping in as our next presidential sponsor! We’re grateful for her willingness to bring her energy and passion to UWHEN’s work supporting women in higher education!” We welcome President Tuminez as our 2020-2023 Presidential Sponsor!
UWHEN 2020 Award Winners
Four women represent the top leaders in Utah’s Women in Higher Education Network for 2020.
The University of Utah’s Mary Anne Berzins received the Distinguished Service Award; the U of U’s Sumiko T. Martinez, Ph.D., received the Special Recognition Award; Utah Valley University’s Jessica C. Hill, Ph.D., received the Mentorship Award and the U of U’s Kirsten Mahoney received the Emerging Professional Award.
Mary Anne Berzins--Distinguished Service Award
When Susan Madsen, Ph.D., organized the UWHEN organization in 2012, Berzins was on the committee to get it off the ground and involve women from all the institutions of higher education. Since them, Berzins has been the cornerstone of this organization and served in almost every position, sometimes more than once.
As assistant vice president, division of human resources at the U of U, Berzins’ primary focus is identifying and supporting appropriate leadership and organization, development mechanisms across the U.
She designs integrated curriculum for leadership development; facilitates leadership development programs; develops integrated, organizational, strategic support for departments and colleges, provides individual leadership coaching; and works collaboratively with many units across the campus.
One of her nominators wrote, Berzins’ demonstrated phenomenal support to the UWHEN Board of Directors and its mission. Having previously served as chair of the board, she willingly agreed to step back into that role in 2018 when the incoming chair stepped down. Her leadership and service helped stabilize the board during a time of transition and if once wasn't enough, she agreed to do it again the following year.
She is the only woman to serve as the UWHEN board chair three years. In addition to her outstanding leadership, she directly demonstrates her commitment to the mission of UWHEN by helping women advance careers within higher education leadership.
“Earlier this year, I found myself in need of guidance related to changes within my position at my institution. Mary Anne took the time to meet with me one-on-one and offer great feedback and support that helped me take the next steps in my career advancement,” wrote the nominator.
The next nominator wrote, “An expert in professional development, leadership and mentorship, Berzins exemplifies characteristics essential to supporting the UWHEN mission. Her advocacy and support for underrepresented populations increased UWHEN’s success by expanding resources, innovating content and reaching our constituents in a variety of settings (e.g., conferences, fall events and invited training at the institutions and across communities). During her tenure, she filled a vital role in the continuity and mission fulfillment of UWHEN. In addition to regular responsibilities, she repeatedly represented UWHEN at the national American Council on Education Women’s Network State Chair’s Conference.
“On a personal note, I witnessed and was a recipient of Berzins’ mentorship. Her patient and thoughtful leadership encouraged me and elevated my own capacity to lead and contribute.”
Sumiko T. Martinez, Ph.D.--Special Recognition Award
Martinez is the associate director for scholarships and student funding for the U of U’s College of Nursing. Her responsibilities include managing a $1.6 million annual scholarship budget for 1,500+ undergraduate and graduate students, secure a dedicated fund for emergency scholarships for nursing students, advocate for students to get assistance in completing their programs, assist in supervision of TAs and work-study students, write a policy and procedure manual for critical functions and serve on the emergency preparedness committee plus the campus-wide-homeless- student-task force.
Her nomination letter said Martinez’s vision in creating a dedicated emergency scholarship in the U of U’s College of Nursing helped many women in higher education, often during particularly vulnerable periods of their lives. Research tells us that a $400 emergency can derail a student’s higher education, and Martinez was determined that should not happen to any of her students.
She led the university to formalize the scholarship into its own account so funds are clearly demarcated for students in financial crisis, making it an easier program for fundraising and allowing better data collection on the impact of emergency funds on nursing students. Since 2017 when she formalized this scholarship, 38 women benefitted directly, enabling them to continue their education in the face of homelessness, food insecurity, domestic violence, medical emergencies, loss of jobs or transportation and many other serious situations.
Her close collaboration with the university’s advancement team contributed to successfully securing a donor to endow the scholarship so it will exist in perpetuity. Martinez’s impact with the hardship scholarship continues to be felt for years to come, as students who received these funds graduate from the College of Nursing and work in healthcare and touch many lives. However, the ripple effect goes farther than the students who have already benefitted. She is leading a project in conjunction with colleagues in the University Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid to simplify student access to emergency funds across campus and ensure that students in financial crisis get a coordinated response that includes not only money to tide them over, but also resources and assistance to help prevent them from landing in a financial crisis later on.
Her vision in combining immediate assistance to women with long-term education for success is deserving of a special recognition from UWHEN.
Jessica C. Hill, Ph.D.--Mentoring Award
Hill is an associate professor of psychology at UVU where she admits to being a broadly prepared cognitive developmentalist who studies cognitive psychology in the context of lifespan changes. She’s an internationally recognized scholar on teaching and learning in higher education and an award-winning educator who incorporates culturally relevant and learner-centered teaching across delivery modalities. A prolific grant writer and published author, she teaches general psychology, cognitive psychology, cognitive psychology as a learning community with abnormal psychology, research methods, psychology of adjustment, graduate seminar in the teaching of psychology and introduction of undergraduate pedagogy.
Her nominator wrote that Dr. Hill epitomizes the mentoring of women; she focuses on building pathways for women to ascend to their professional goals. The following demonstrates her impact on faculty, staff, and students across UVU, the state of Utah and the nation:
1. Co-developer and co-director of the USHE Women's Leadership Exchange: UWLE was developed to provide USHE women with leadership training because USHE consistently lags behind the nation in women-senior leaders. Hill and Nancy Hauck, Ph.D. from Dixie State University advocated support for the program which, in its inaugural year, supports 21 mid-career women and their mentors from all USHE institutions through training in developing: a. a leadership vision, b. executing plans and evaluating outcomes, c. building relationships & navigating organizational complexity, and d. communicating with and influencing others. This demonstrates her dedication to advancing women leaders in higher education in Utah.
2. Society for the Teaching of Psychology Mentor: Since the inception of the program, Hill provided monthly support to junior faculty in psychology teaching across the nation. These faculty are on the tenure track. Her effort demonstrates her dedication to supporting female faculty.
3. Tenure and promotion mentor for UVU faculty: Since receiving tenure in 2018, Hill served as tenure mentor for two women in her department. In addition, she was asked by the provost's office to provide promotion mentorship to a woman in another college. The request was made because of Hill's commitment to mentoring women, high standards in writing and performance, and high regard for her integrity and ability to maintain confidentiality.
4. Undergraduate research mentor: Hill co-leads a research team for undergraduate students and purposefully recruits and trains women students in order to promote STEM as a career option. Thus far, she mentored 25 students.
5. Informal mentoring (2012 - present): Hill seeks opportunities to informally mentor women students, faculty and staff. This illustrates that mentoring is a primary focus of her day-to-day activities. She is active in identifying women who need assistance and offers it to them without any expectation of some sort of favor in return. She mentors because it is the right thing to do. It is impossible to calculate the broad impact of Hill's mentoring is intrinsic to her personality—such mentoring is seamless and unobtrusive yet rich.
Mahoney is the academic program manager for the U of U’s RN-BS nursing program where she is responsible for the student administration and programming for students in their academic program. Her responsibilities include recruiting associate-degree-registered nurses, overseeing student’s admissions and orientation processes, creating onboard programming, navigating campus requirements and advising life changes/difficult situations, crafting programs for individual student needs and assisting with graduation.
In her nomination letter, Mahoney exemplifies the qualities of a good leader – vision, honesty, integrity, dedication, courage, kindness, creativity, adaptability, and above all, being able to listen. She brings these qualities into her daily work at the U of U College of Nursing as the RN-BS program manager and her students and the college are better off for it.
She increased the capacity of multiple partnerships to ensure that women have more career opportunities, collaborating with the Salt Lake Community College Nursing Program to design an Express Pathway for seamless transfers for newly minted RNs pursuing a bachelor’s degree. She has also worked with both the University of Utah Health hospital and clinics system to help working RNs advance their careers by attaining a higher degree.
Additionally, Mahoney is developing partnerships with a network of rural hospitals across Utah and the Western United States, bringing educational options to women in geographically isolated communities. Everywhere she goes, she first listens to the needs of the people she is working with – never assuming she already has the answers.
Along the way, she implemented many policy changes to increase access to higher education for underserved populations – working professionals, older/nontraditional students, and women living in rural communities, including the American Indian reservations. Key among these policy changes is implementing tiered-admissions requirements removing unnecessary barriers based on experience, educational circumstances, and location.
Her perseverance and dedication to advancing the educational opportunities of underserved women have been remarkable, and she will succeed as a leader in higher education as she continues on this path.
UWHEN Leadership Conference POSTPONED UNTIL 2021
020 UWHEN Leadership Conference
“We have been closely monitoring the development of efforts to minimize the impact of COVID-19 and today, we made the hard decision to cancel the 2020 UWHEN Leadership conference, on April 3, at Weber State University. Although we hoped we could go ahead as planned, we have decided that it would not be wise to convene a large gathering at this time as our first priority is the safety and well-being of all of you and our presenters.
We will still be announcing our UWHEN awards for some of our colleagues during early April and also recognizing our current and incoming Presidential sponsors.
Additionally, we will explore options to increase the number of professional workshops in the fall.
Finally, we will be refunding registration fees for anyone who has already registered for the conference. If you have registered, you will receive an email from Eventbrite shortly confirming your refund. Important: Please note that individual attendees will need to cancel their own hotel arrangements.
We are disappointed that we will not see you at Weber State University in April and we look forward to seeing you at one of the fall workshops.”
Mary Anne Berzins
Chair, UWHEN Board