April 25, 2013
Danielle Lacey

Women's Commission Honors 2013 'Women of the Year'

Six women were recognized for their contributions and commitment to the University on Wednesday during the commission's annual luncheon.

The 2013 Women of the Year are, from left, Susan Heaney, M.D., MPH; Meg Connolly; Judith Carlson; Hallie Lucille Kaiser; Virginia Westermeyer; and Cynthia Stollhans, Ph.D.
The 2013 Women of the Year are, from left, Susan Heaney, M.D., MPH; Meg Connolly; Judith Carlson; Hallie Lucille Kaiser; Virginia Westermeyer; and Cynthia Stollhans, Ph.D. Photo by Danielle Lacey

Women from around the University were honored Wednesday at the 34th annual Women of the Year luncheon, sponsored by the Saint Louis University Women's Commission.

This year's event saw a record number of attendees, with more than 400 guests fill the Wool Ballroom, to honor the 2013 award winners. Due to an increased number in nominations, this also marked the first year that six women were recognized, as opposed to only five.

Since 1977, the Women's Commission has selected University women to be honored at an annual springtime luncheon. These administrators, faculty, staff and students are recognized for their contributions, commitment and lives of service to the University and their community.

The 2013 Women of the Year are:

Judith Carlson, associate professor at the School of Nursing

Carlson is celebrating her 40th anniversary at the School of Nursing, with the title of associate professor and coordinator of the traditional option for baccalaureate nursing education. She earned her baccalaureate and master degrees from the University, and immediately was invited by the dean to accept an appointment to the Faculty.

She has played an important role in the development of the School of Nursing, as it reacted to the many societal and educational changes of the past forty years. For example, in recent years, she has developed a nursing education program for our students in Madrid, with her Blackboard courses and conferences with faculty, and she works with the Madrid students when they come to campus. She was among the faculty and administrators who championed the new Interprofessional Health teaching program, and she serves on a wide variety of University academic and student development committees.

Meg Connolly, associate vice president for Alumni Relations

After receiving both her bachelor's and master's degrees from SLU, Connolly joined the University Development Department eighteen years ago. She has never stopped in her commitment to providing programs and events which keep alive the alumni "family ties" with alma mater. 

In St. Louis, she has developed the annual Easter Egg Hunt on campus into a not-to-be-missed event for Alumni parents and grandparents. In her position, Connolly has developed valuable connections with the Office of Admission and the Department of Athletics, involving alumni in far-flung cities in the process of recruiting students, providing a "Summer Send-Off," and helping local alums organize group attendance at SLU athletic events in their cities.

Susan Heaney, M.D., professor of pediatrics

Heaney has been a member of the Saint Louis University community for 25 years. Her distinguished career in her profession includes eight years as vice president for Medical Affairs of SSM Cardinal Glennon; seven years as chair of the Faculty Affairs Committee of the School of Medicine and chair of the Dean's Task Force for Women in Education. Her nominator provided the Selection Committee with an extensive list of Service Awards and of her contributions to community Boards and agencies. 

Heaney has a long-standing and genuine interest in encouraging and mentoring women in the medical profession. She has served on a variety of committees and commissions in this area, including the Women's Liaison Advisory Office of the School of Medicine, the Women's Support Group of the Department of Pediatrics. She also served a 26-year term on the School of Medicine Admissions Committee.

Hallie Kaiser, senior in the College of Arts and Sciences

Early in her life as a student at Saint Louis University, Kaiser was attracted to the work of the Christian Life Community and Campus Ministry, and became a dedicated servant leader. She became facilitator for a CLC group and the de facto spiritual guide for a handful of freshman women, a challenging responsibility.

Finding a leadership void in the organization "Students for Life," she offered to serve as external vice president and then recruited three other students to serve on the executive board, including the president. Motivated by the desire to provide women on campus with health information and services, she also helped organize a health fair, inviting 10 SLU departments and organizations to contribute.

Cynthia Stolhans, Ph.D., associate professor of fine and performing arts

For 26 years, Stollhans has been the "constant" in the Department of Fine and Performing Arts. She has played a significant role in the growth and development of curriculum offerings, and numbers and quality of professional staff, serving for nine years as Chairman of the Department. Because administrative duties interfered severely with her personal Scholarship, she stepped down from the chairmanship, only to be called upon last year to accept the newly created position of associate chairman of fine and performing arts. 

Stollhans takes her role as scholar very seriously and is internationally recognized as one of the leading experts of the depiction of St. Catherine of Alexandria. Her active publications and conference presentation agenda demonstrates the richness of her intellectual life. Her administrative expertise is vast and acknowledged. She transitioned a small service department into a vibrant collection of arts programs with award-winning faculty.

Virginia Westermeyer, business manager for the Department of Family and Community Medicine

In a constantly changing health-care climate, Westermeyer has been a steady hand, assisting the leadership of the department as it transitioned into new areas of service, the addition of qualified practitioners and staff, and of negotiations both within and outside the University. Virginia brought with her 20 years of experience in cable television and telecommunications, and a year with Cardinal Ritter Senior Services. After so many years in the corporate world, she wanted to make a mid-career change to, in her own words, "something that was meaningful to me." 

Because of her skill and expertise, Westermeyer has received numerous awards for her work ethic, work performance and other accomplishments, especially the financial success of the department.

Find out more about the Women of the Year Award, including a complete list of winners, online at the Women's Commission website.

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