Delaware Gov. Carney signs Women’s History Month proclamation at UD

DE Governor Carney signs Women's History Month Proclamation

This article by Amy Wolf originally appeared in UDaily on March 28, 2024. It is reprinted with permission.

On Monday, March 25, Delaware Gov. John Carney visited the Women’s Hall of Fame Art Exhibition at the University of Delaware for a Women’s History Month proclamation signing.

UD is hosting the exhibition, in collaboration with the Delaware Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy, in Alfred Lerner Hall. The exhibition, open from March 2024 to Jan. 15, 2025, displays 169 watercolor portraits by Delaware artist Theresa Walton that capture the essence of these influential women and their impact on the state. More than half of the women have connections to UD as alumnae, former faculty, staff, parents and friends.

At the event, UD President Dennis Assanis encouraged attendees to learn more about the women by visiting an online showcase on the Office of Women’s and Advancement’s website, which features all inductees and their accomplishments.

“The key figures depicted behind me are role models to all of us, and their accomplishments serve as inspiration for our students, who after graduation will have the opportunity to make their own exceptional trajectories and contributions to the world,” Assanis said.

“We are inspired by your contributions that have shaped Delaware’s history and have made positive change throughout the state,” said UD First Lady Eleni Assanis.

UD is the third host of the exhibition. Delaware Technical Community College’s Owens Campus in Georgetown hosted the exhibition in 2023, and the Delaware Art Museum was the inaugural host the previous year. Prior to the opening of the exhibition in 2022, there was no public display of the women.

Established in 1981, the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame recognizes the achievements of outstanding Delaware women from across various fields. From artists to athletes to community advocates and scientists, members represent diverse backgrounds.

“One of the great privileges of being an elected official and being governor is you get to meet and work with lots of fantastic people,” Carney said. “When I first saw this exhibit at the art museum years ago … I was just blown away by all the unbelievable women that I’ve had the privilege of working with over the years.”

The 2023 honorees include two UD professors: Bonnie Meszaros, assistant professor of economics and associate director of the UD Center for Economics Education and Entrepreneurship, and Lynn Snyder-Mackler, a physical therapist and sports medicine researcher who was instrumental in making UD’s physical therapy graduate program the top-ranked program in the country. Other 2023 honorees include Patricia Dailey Lewis, CEO of the Beau Biden Foundation; Paulette Sullivan Moore, Delaware’s first African American female attorney; and Leslie Newman, former CEO of Children and Families First.

Past inductees include First Lady Jill Biden and U.S. Representative Lisa Blunt Rochester, both of whom are UD alumnae, as well as Emalea Pusey Warner, who successfully lobbied the State Legislature for funds to create the Women’s College at the University of Delaware; Winifred J. Robinson, the first dean of UD’s Women’s College; and Mae Carter, founder of UD’s Office of Women’s Affairs. About 20 inductees attended the March 25 event.

Fatimah Conley, vice president of institutional equity and chief diversity officer, said that recognizing the accomplishments of women, particularly those from different backgrounds, leads to higher self-esteem among girls and greater respect among boys and men.

“This gallery will offer our students and the entire UD community the opportunity to learn about the contributions of women in Delaware, several of whom are Blue Hens,” Conley said. “We draw strength and inspiration from those who came before us and those remarkable women living, learning and working among us today. They are part of our story in a truly balanced and inclusive history.”

State House Speaker Valerie Longhurst said the exhibition is a reminder that Delaware women should be celebrated year-round.

“Women’s History Month is today, but I think Women’s History Month is 12 months out of the year,” she said.

Applications for the 2024 Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame are open through April 7, 2024, and can be found at de.gov/women.

The Office of Women’s Advancement and Advocacy and the University of Delaware collaborated to organize the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame Art Exhibition. The exhibition receives support from the Delaware Department of Human Resources and the Delaware Women’s Hall of Fame Committee. Additional support is offered, in part, through a grant from the Delaware Division of the Arts, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

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