Past Distinguished Woman in Higher Education Leadership Award Recipients


Ann Austin

Ann E. Austin, professor of higher education, adult and lifelong education and associate dean for research for the College of Education, Michigan State University

Austin has been a pillar of MSU’s College of Education for more than 20 years. Austin’s focus on strategies to support women in STEM education is recognized nationally in her service as co-leader of the Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning, supported by the National Science Foundation. Austin is also co-chair of the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Mathematics Roundtable on Systemic Change in Undergraduate STEM Education. She continually strives to increase the future for women through service on the NSF ADVANCE Program to increase the advancement of women in science and engineering careers.

Kay Keck

Kay Keck, vice president for student and community services, Kellogg Community College

Keck earned an associate’s degree from Kellogg Community College and has continuously served the college for four decades. Now as vice president of student and community services, Keck had been dean of enrollment, registrar and worked in the financial aid office. Keck launched the KCC Equity and Inclusion Committee, and serves as a mentor, role model and advocate in helping women to identify and navigate successful career paths. She launched KCC’s first chapter of the MI-ACE Women’s Network and recruited its first institutional representatives.

Keck earned a bachelor’s degree from Spring Arbor University, master’s degree from Central Michigan University, and doctoral degree in higher education leadership from Western Michigan University.


Cindy Allen

Cindy Allen, vice president for Administration and Human Resources at Jackson College

Allen has held increasingly responsible positions throughout her 35-year tenure at Jackson College. She was instrumental in the founding of a Campus Health Clinic and spearheaded the creation of the Jackson College Oasis Center, which provides behavioral health services. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and master’s degree in organizational leadership from Siena Heights University.

Olukeim Fadayomi

Olukemi (Kemi) Fadayomi, professor of biology at Ferris State University

Olukemi (Kemi) Fadayomi, professor of biology at Ferris State University

Fadayomi is a faculty-in-residence at the Faculty Center for Teaching and Learning at Ferris State. She co-founded and chaired the Women’s Leadership Program at Ferris, mentored faculty, and helped create fully funded training for eight female faculty at HERS. She is a Fulbright Scholar and served as a visiting professor at the University of Namibia in southern Africa.


Theresa Stephens-Lock

Theresa Stephens-Lock, chief/executive of public safety, Mott Community College

Stephens-Lock is a member of the Michigan Association of Chiefs of Police, graduate of the Law Enforcement Executive Leadership Institute and the FBI National Academy, among a long list of professional credits – most of which broke a gender barrier. She earned Alpha Kappa Alpha’s Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award, and was named Peacemaker of the Year from Genesee County in 2016.

Christine Wallace

Christine Wallace, vice president of the Kettering Global Campus Clinical Faculty, Kettering University

Wallace has shared her verve and talents with women’s symposia, leadership summits, program development and community groups, impacting all ages. She founded a chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (in Georgia), and worked with state boards and area hospitals to convene fetal and infant mortality research in Kalamazoo at a time when the area had the highest African American infant mortality rate in the state.


Margaret Crouch

Margaret Crouch, professor of history and philosophy at Eastern Michigan University

Crouch’s undergraduate and graduate education in philosophy of women, feminist theory, social justice, human rights, and global ethics demonstrate her passion for issues impacting women. She served as the director of EMU’s Women’s Studies Program and currently chairs the university’s Women’s Commission.

Patti Trepkowski

Patti Trepkowski, associate provost and dean of instruction support and interdisciplinary studies at Grand Rapids Community College

Trepkowski began her career at GRCC nearly 40 years ago, when she was head aide in the Laboratory Preschool. She has held roles of assistant dean, dean of instructional design, dean of instructional support and interdisciplinary studies, associate provost and interim provost. She facilitated the creation of a Women’s Studies (now Gender Studies) curriculum and was an early advocate for study abroad.


Margarita Mosqueda

Margarita “Margaret” Mosqueda, vice president for Student and Educational Services at Delta College

Mosqueda directs and leads student development and success across campus. In her support of student success, she has implemented a divisional strategic plan, led a team in providing a welcoming and supportive environment to attract and retain students, developed institution-wide objectives that promote student persistence and success, and co-lead Delta’s strategic initiative for diversity.

Roberta Teahen

Roberta Teahen, associate provost of Accreditation, Assessment, Compliance and Evaluation at Ferris State University

Teahen’s commitment to the advancement of women in their professional and personal goals is demonstrated by her participation in events to encourage middle and high school girls to enter STEM fields; efforts to increase female enrollment in Ferris’ engineering technology programs, and encouragement of women to engage in professional development, pursue higher degrees and apply for leadership positions.


Martha Pollack

Martha E. Pollack, provost for the University of Michigan

Pollack joined the U-M faculty in 2000. Prior to being named provost, she served as the university’s vice provost for Academic and Budgetary Affairs, dean of the School of Information, and associate chair for Computer Science and Engineering. Pollack is a path-breaker in her male-dominated field. When she joined the faculty in computer science and engineering at U-M, she was the only woman in that division of more than 40 faculty members. She has been instrumental in improving the campus environment for underrepresented groups, particularly in STEM disciplines.

Rene Shingles

René Shingles, professor and program director of Rehabilitation and Medical Sciences at Central Michigan University

Shingles was one of the first 20 African American women to become a certified athletic trainer. In 1988, she served as head athletic trainer at Newberry College, breaking gender and racial barriers by taking on athletic training responsibilities for its football program.

Shingles takes time to mentor CMU’s young women on a personal level, mentor and promote women in athletic training and in graduate programs, and has been the advisor for the Student Athletic Training Organization and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority. She has received many professional awards and recently received the Isabella County United Way Quality of Life Award.

Lillian Frick

Lillian Frick, vice president for Finance and Administrative Services at Mid Michigan Community College

Frick joined Mid Michigan in 1999 as an accountant and rapidly was promoted to CFO in 2002. As vice provost, Frick has overseen the most robust renovation and construction projects in the college’s history, including the development of an entirely new, full-service campus at a secondary location.

Frick is very active with Zonta International, which seeks to advance the status of women internationally in legal, political, economic, educational, health and professional realms. Last year, she received the Eagle Award from the Mount Pleasant Chamber of commerce for her volunteerism.


Laurie Chesley

Laurie Chesley, dean of arts and sciences, Grand Rapids Community College

Chesley has worked at GRCC since 2005. Chesley is known among her colleagues for her strong leadership and mentoring skills. She has supported faculty-led conferences that have raised awareness of women’s issues on campus and in the community. She is a past recipient of the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Faculty Excellence Award.

Phyllis Vroom

Phyllis Ivory Vroom, deputy president of Wayne State University

Before being named deputy president of Wayne State, Vroom served as dean of the university’s School of Social Work until her retirement in 2011. Vroom has written book chapters and articles on women of color in leadership positions; she has also been widely recognized for her mentoring skills.


Deborah Hautau

Deborah Hautau, biology instructor, Alpena Community College

Hautau has helped students succeed at Alpena Community College for nearly two decades. She serves as a science mentor for Girl Scouts and directs the Michigan Science Olympiad held annually in Alpena. She also created a study abroad program in Costa Rica. Hautau received the 2011 Alpena Community College Endowed Chair Award, and the Outstanding Leader Award from the Girl Scouts of Michigan. Hautau’s Girl Scout units received the green angel award for service.

Caroline Simon

Caroline Simon, professor of philosophy and interim dean for social sciences, Hope College

Simon joined the faculty at Hope College in 1988. She is one of two faculty mentors for Lilly Network’s national Lilly Graduate Fellows Program for selected doctoral students at elite universities.She directs Hope’s Teagle Systematic Improvement of Student Learning Grant, and also serves as a member of the college’s Dean’s Council. Simon has served as a member of the executive committee of the Society of Christian Philosophers. She is now serving as provost and executive vice president of Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington.

Marcy Weston

Marcy Weston, senior associate athletic director, Central Michigan University

Weston joined Central Michigan as a physical education instructor and head coach for field hockey in 1972. She was women’s volleyball coach from 1974-88. Weston moved into athletic administration in 1989. A noted basketball expert, Weston refereed two NCAA Division I national championship women’s games, and has held several committee positions for NCAA Division I women’s basketball. Weston was National Coordinator of Women’s Basketball Officiating from 1994-2007. Weston was promoted to executive associate director of athletics in 2012 and joined the NCAA Women’s Basketball Issues Committee in 2013. She served on the CMU committee that added women’s golf for 2014 and lacrosse in 2015.


Gilda Gely

Gilda G. Gely, provost and executive vice president, Grand Rapids Community College

Gilda G. Gely is a dedicated leader who throughout her career has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to advancing diversity and organizational change. She serves as a champion for women’s issues, social justice and gender equity. A native of Puerto Rico, Gely earned a doctorate in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1993. In addition, she received a master’s degree in Spanish Language and Literature from the Middlebury College-Madrid in 1990, and a bachelor’s degree in radio and TV as well as Spanish from Kansas State University in 1986. Gely recently served on the Literacy Center Board of West Michigan and is currently a board member for the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Her portfolio at GRCC has expanded to include leadership of the Financial Aid area, the Grant Office and the compliance for disability services at the institution.

Fatma Mili

Fatma Mili, professor and chair of computer science and engineering, Oakland University

Fatma Mili earned a doctorate in computer science at the Universite Pierre et Marie Currie in Paris in 1984 and joined Oakland University at that time. She has also served as the interim associate dean of the School of Engineering and Computer Science. As a minority in her chosen discipline, Mili knows and understands very well the challenges her colleagues and female students encounter in this field. Her teaching assignments have taken her to Canada, France, and Tunisia where she also has served to inspire women and girls in the fields of engineering and computer science.  Read more about Fatma Mili


Martha Warfield

Martha Warfield, associate vice president for diversity and inclusion, Western Michigan University

Warfield received her bachelor’s degree in social science from Western in 1961, her master’s in education from the University of Oregon in 1969 and a doctorate in counseling psychology from Michigan State University in 1979. She also was a post-doctoral fellow at MSU’s Institute for Research in Teaching.

Kathleen Wilbur

Kathleen M. Wilbur, vice president for development and external relations, Central Michigan University

As vice president for government relations and public affairs at Central Michigan University, Kathleen (Kathy) Wilbur has been a leader within government and education for many years. During 2009 and early 2010, Wilbur served as interim president of CMU, the first female to ever serve in that position in the university’s 118-year history. Since her award, Wilbur has been appointed as the special assistant to the president on the establishment of the College of Medicine.


Gayle Davis

Gayle R. Davis, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Grand Valley State University

Gayle Davis earned a doctorate in American Studies from Michigan State University. She was named provost at GVSU in 2002. Since that time, “she has accomplished several tasks that people at GVSU said couldn’t be done, with firmness, charm, grace, fairness and good humor,” writes GVSU President Thomas Haas.  Of the 13 deans who now report to her, she has hired all but two, and the Deans Council has evolved from predominantly white men when she arrived to a more representative mix of genders. Davis has implemented an initiative to individualize faculty workload to make full use of each person’s strengths in meeting GVSU’s mission; initiating a project with the Education Advisory Board to use a sophisticated predictive analytics approach to student success; and further streamlining the process of faculty review for contract renewal, tenure, and promotion through the ranks. She is also on the board of directors for Goodwill Industries.


Stephanie Bulger

Stephanie R. Bulger, vice chancellor for curriculum and learning technologies, Wayne County Community College District

Stephanie R. Bulger holds a doctorate in higher education from the University of Michigan, where she received the 2000 Howard McClusky award. Under her leadership at WCCCD, distance learning enrollment has grown more than 250 percent (currently exceeding 8000 enrollments) in a division which includes four online certificate programs, more than 300 students in Eritrea, the Virtual Middle College for high school students, as well as online continuing education for professionals. Bulger was promoted to the district vice chancellor of educational affairs at WCCCD in 2009. As the chief academic officer, Bulger directs instruction for five campuses serving 72,000 students and involving more than 700 faculty.

Claudia Douglass

Claudia Douglass, chair of biology, Central Michigan University

Cited for her recruitment and mentoring of female biologists, Claudia Douglass received a doctorate in science education from at Purdue University. Douglass joined the biology faculty at Central Michigan University in 1976 where she was quickly promoted. Her career progressed steadily through a variety of challenging positions. As a grant specialist, she assisted faculty with writing grant proposals and gained GEAR UP, UPWARD BOUND, and McNair funding.  As a service-learning coordinator, she started the CMU Service-Learning Center and secured funding for its programs. Since receiving her award, Douglass has been associate dean of the College of Science & Technology and is now the interim vice provost for Academic Affairs at CMU.

Nancy Miller

Nancy S. Miller, dean for social sciences, Hope College

Nancy Miller has been a member of the Hope College faculty since 1968, serving in both the English and Education departments and, since 1985, as dean for the social sciences. She served as interim provost during 2001-2002 and as a faculty representative to the Board of Trustees, chaired the Hope committee that developed the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, which opened in 2005 and in 1995 delivered the baccalaureate sermon. She is on the national board of Bread for the World and is a member and officer of the Board of Trustees for Western Theological Seminary. She is now retired.

Mary Jane Thompson

Mary Jane Thomson, professional occupations department chair and instructor, Alpena Community College

Mary Jane Thomson is a first-generation college graduate, having earned an AAS Degree in Data Processing from Ferris State College. While working in the private sector she was chosen from 13,000 employees as the recipient of the James Duncan Award for Performance Excellence by First of America Bank Corporation. As a non-traditional student with three young children, Thomson attended Lake Superior State University and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration. She completed post-MBA coursework at Michigan State, Ferris State, Purdue, Boise State, St. Cloud State, and UCLA. In 2009, she received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Ferris State University.


Janet Pisaneschi

Janet Pisaneschi, provost and vice president for academic affairs, Western Michigan University

Janet I. Pisaneschi was recruited to head WMU’s College of Health and Human Services, where she led the development of the Bronson School of Nursing and established the Unified Clinics to provide clinical experience for WMU students and serve the Kalamazoo area. She oversaw the construction of a $50 million health and social services facility to house all the university’s programs in one building, and she has created a research enterprise at WMU that is one of the nation’s 10 largest for an allied health college of its kind.


Elizabeth Alexander

Elizabeth Alexander, professor, College of Human Medicine, university physician, Michigan State University

As MSU’s university physician, Alexander has helped define the position as the institutional public health officer, protecting the health of students, faculty and staff members, and incoming international students. She earned a master’s degree from Indiana University and a medical degree from the University of Kansas, where she was the first woman with children to be admitted.


Elizabeth Simmons

Elizabeth H. Simmons, director of Lyman Briggs School of Science, and professor, Department of Physics and Astronomy, Michigan State University

Elizabeth H. Simmons is director of the Lyman Briggs School of Science and a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at MSU. Completing her undergraduate work at Harvard University in 1985, Simmons earned her master’s degree in physics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar. She returned to Harvard for her doctoral degree and postdoctoral fellowship then spent a decade as a professor at Boston University before joining MSU’s faculty in 2003. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Aspen Center for Physics.


Barbara Mieras

Barbara Mieras, executive vice president for advancement, president of the foundation, Davenport University

Barbara Mieras is responsible for Davenport University’s advancement initiatives throughout Michigan and northern Indiana, expanding fundraising, broadening alumni relationships and increasing the involvement of the university in public and community affairs. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Education, master’s degrees in education and communications from Western Michigan University, and a doctoral degree from Michigan State University.


Barbara Steidle

Barbara C. Steidle, senior consultant to the provost, Michigan State University

Barbara C. Steidle has spent 36 years working in higher education in Michigan. She served as assistant provost at MSU, and dean of James Madison College at MSU. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Penn State University in history, master’s and doctoral degrees from Rutgers University. Steidle has held faculty positions at Central Michigan, MSU and Rutgers.


Jackie Zeff

Jackie Zeff, director of Master of Liberal Studies, Department of English, University of Michigan, Flint

At U of M Flint, Jackie Zeff has served in the Mentorship Program on the Women’s Center Advisory Council, on the Women and Gender Studies Program and as president of the campus chapter of the American Association of University Professors. She also has served on the Faculty Council and the Chancellor’s Council, an important advisory group on policy matters. Zeff earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, a master’s degree from Wayne State and a doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh.


Nancy Barker

Nancy L. Barker, vice president/office of the president, Northwood University

In 1979 Nancy Barker became the first woman officer of Northwood University and her responsibilities expanded to include the direction of nine departments and the nationwide constituents program of the university, active in 11 cities in five states. Barker served on the founding board of the Michigan Women’s Studies Association and is also the past president of the National Council of Women of the United States, headquartered in New York. Barker earned a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Michigan.