Advancing women’s issues and concerns: PCSW

NIU President Lisa Freeman has five Presidential Commissions in place to advise her on the issues that relate to many diverse groups on campus.

Each spring, the Office of the President invites nominations and self-nominations of faculty, staff and students for appointment to the presidential commissions. Commission appointments are made during the summer with terms beginning in the fall.

Throughout this month, NIU Today will highlight each commission and the great things they are doing on campus.

Presidential Commission on the Status of Women

For nearly four decades, the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women (PCSW) has been the primary advisor to the president on issues and concerns related to the status of women at NIU.

Laura Vazquez, Board of Trustees Professor in the Department of Communication and Director of Undergraduate Studies, joined the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women seven years ago because she wanted to make a difference on campus.

Laura Vazquez, chair of the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women

“When I first joined the commission, NIU had only ever had male presidents,” Vazquez, who is the commission’s current chair, said. “It was important for me to ensure that the women of NIU had a voice – a chance to express their needs – and the opportunity to help shape policy relative to all the things that make the university as strong as it is.”

Mission accomplished.

Commission members include faculty, staff and students who serve on behalf of the entire university in a spirit of independence and impartiality. Issues from family leave to campus safety to sexual harassment have been tackled, and the commission continues to be open to topics and issues brought forth by the campus community.

“All are welcome,” Vazquez said. “All you have to do is be willing to roll up your sleeves and work hard and you can be a part of the commission,” Vazquez said. “Whatever the project is I feel completely confident that our commission will follow through and make it happen.”

While the commission aims to enrich the campus community through investigations and research of topics that affect women at NIU, individuals also benefit from their membership. “I have met staff members, students and people who work in every office you can think of through the commission,” Vazquez said. “There are friendships that have been made with people across the university and it’s provided this wonderful network of support.”

The commission is always looking for new members, and Vazquez said it’s the kind of team she’s proud to lead.

“How wonderful it is to work with people who are competent, motivated and will do what they say they will do,” Vazquez said. “That doesn’t always happen in life but it happens with this commission and it happens a lot.”

If you are an NIU student or a faculty or staff member and are interested in joining the commission, please contact pcsw@niu.edu.

Forward nominations, including name, title classification (faculty, instructor, supportive professional staff, operating staff, undergraduate student, graduate student), campus address, email, telephone number and a brief statement summarizing your qualifications and desire to serve, to Pat Erickson, Office of the University Council, at pje@niu.edu.

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