Women of courage and vision reception: a new approach to how women are to be nominated for awards

This year, for the first time, three specialized awards will be given to a total of nine faculty, staff and students at the annual women of courage and vision reception. After considering the feedback received from previous years, three categories, namely: advocacy, sense of belonging and professional development support were put into place to personalize the awards.  

The President’s Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW), established in October 1995 by President Richard Rush, has since sponsored and cosponsored, along with Women’s Studies and the Women’s Center, several annual events, including receptions for the recognition of the extraordinary contributions of women at MNSU.  

The Women of Courage and Vision reception plays an important role in acknowledging and recognizing women who have faced gender inequity and aims to support their work. 

“I think both the President’s Commission on Diversity and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women are doing great work to support and advance social justice on our campus, and I think that events like the Women of Vision and Courage event make people aware of the work that folks are doing and recognize it in a unique and particular way,” says Brooke Burke, chair of the PCSW.

The event typically starts in the morning, where the first half hour is dedicated to attendees socializing and enjoying a meal. Followed by a welcome from both the president and members of the commission. Afterwards, awards and recognitions are given out, along with the announcement of grant award recipients. Another component of the program is the invited guest speakers, who deliver inspirational messages that highlight their significant contributions to the larger Mankato community. 

This year, there will be three awards, according to the commission’s strategic plan. Each is connected to the goals the commission established for the strategic plan designed to guide their work from 2024 to 2029. The awards correspond to the three main goals of the commission. 

 One is connected to advocacy for those who have faced gender inequities. In order to be nominated for that award, the nominee would have had to be actively engaged in advocating for the rights and policies of individuals who have faced gender inequities on campus.  

The second involves supporting the professional development of women who have faced gender inequities. This includes individuals who have worked to secure or support women to engage in professional development to support their professional growth and goals on campus. 

The commission and the president’s office also fund attendance at the HERS Leadership Institute as a unique opportunity for professional development. The PCSW accepts applications and passes on nominations to the president, who then selects a woman-identifying individual interested in leadership in a higher education setting to attend the leadership institute . 

The final award is for creating a welcoming and inclusive environment. To be nominated for this award, nominees would need to be actively engaging in work that is designed to ensure that people feel welcome and connected to one another in the campus community.  

In addition to the three awards, an extra award is given out to recognize a woman who is a staff member, student or faculty member nominated for exceptional work that they do for the campus. 

“Having specialized, specific awards and recognition to really acknowledge and make folks more aware of the work that amazing women and women-identifying individuals are doing on our campus is very important,” says Burke. 

As for recognitions, each year, around 200 women are recognized across campus among students, staff and faculty. All nominees are recognized during the reception. To nominate for recognition, a form can be accessed through the President’s Commission on the Status of Women web page found on the MNSU website. Nominations are due on March 1. 

The commission is open to providing students with the opportunity to get involved, and students can do so by reaching out through their email address at “We are always looking for more individuals to support the work of the Commission,” says Brooke.  

Write to Ephrata Bezuayene at

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