Office of the Provost

Stephanie J. Lee named 2019 Phyllis Law Googasian Award winner

Award recognizes those who contribute to the advancement of women at Oakland University

icon of a calendarMarch 29, 2019

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Stephanie J. Lee named 2019 Phyllis Law Googasian Award winner
2019 Googasian Awards
Stephanie J. Lee, pictured here with her son and her brother, was recognized March 28 as the 2019 recipient of the Phyllis Law Googasian Award.

In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the advancement of women at Oakland University, Stephanie J. Lee, administrative associate to the Provost, has been named the 2019 Phyllis Law Googasian Award winner.

The award, which is presented jointly by Oakland University and the American Council on Education Network for Women Leaders, was established in 1992 in honor of Trustee Emerita Phyllis Law Googasian. It honors a member of the OU community who has contributed to the advancement of women at the university through distinguished leadership, scholarship, advocacy, mentoring and program development.

“I’m truly honored and humbled to receive this award,” Lee said. “It’s great to know that over the years I’ve made an impact on the lives of everyone I’ve come into contact with. My goal was to move the needle, and to advance minorities and women of color. I think I’ve done that. Now my goal is to continue to do that, and to go even higher.”

Lee was presented with the award on Thursday, March 28 during the 27th annual Phyllis Law Googasian and Women and Gender Studies Award Luncheon, which was held in the Oakland Center. Members of Lee’s family, including her son and brother, were in attendance, along with her colleagues and university leaders, who praised Lee’s leadership abilities, generosity, compassion and dedication to bettering the lives of women at OU and beyond.

“There is no doubt that Stephanie has natural leadership abilities,” said James Lentini, senior vice president for Academic Affairs and Provost at Oakland University. “She also really cares, and that makes all the difference.”

Lee received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Oakland University in 1993 and is currently pursuing her Doctorate of Education in Organizational Leadership from the School of Education and Human Services.

She joined the Academic Affairs Office in September 2002 as the assistant to the Provost, after working in various departments at the university. As administrative associate to the Provost, Lee provides management support to Provost Lentini and serves as liaison to the offices of the President, Legal Affairs, and the Board of Trustees. She also is in charge of academic-focused special events, workshops, dinners, conferences and Oakland University commencement ceremonies.

Despite having such a busy schedule, Lee continues to work to improve the lives of women at all levels in academia. She has worked with undergraduate women, her peers and colleagues at OU, and the greater academic community to promote women’s advancement and well-being. She has particularly focused her efforts on supporting women of color in a university environment.

“Stephanie works hard and is dedicated to the advancement of women of color in higher education, but also across this great nation,” said Michelle Southward, director of Academic Advising and Student Services in the School of Health Sciences. “There are several women who have benefitted from Stephanie’s mentorship as they advance in their careers, and not just at Oakland University but at other institutions as well. She is a coach and a compassionate cheerleader, and if you have Stephanie on your side she will make sure people know who you are and where you stand.”

At OU, Lee is engaged with the Black Employees Resource Group (BERG), where she has served in a variety of leadership positions, as well as mentoring young professionals. In addition, she continues to support the Black Alumni Chapter at OU, mentoring alumni and keeping them connected to the university.

Lee has also served as board member and conference presenter for the Michigan ACE Women’s Network and coordinated the 2013 conference hosted by Oakland University for the Michigan ACE Women’s Network including the Women of Color Collaborative sessions. She currently oversees the Women of Color Collaborative, an offshoot of the ACE Network that works to connect underrepresented women in academia to address experiences of marginalization, bullying and isolation.

“When you stand next to Stephanie, you know you’re standing with a fighter for all women,” Southward said. “She’s dedicated to not just advancing women, but advancing everyone. We often forget that, in order for us as women to advance, we have to educate those who may not understand the woman’s plight. We thank Stephanie for making sure people understand that women are here and we’re strong, we’re mighty, and that 40 percent is not enough.”

2019 Googasian Awards
Gabrielle Schmidt, Dallas Lacross, Katherine Williams and Maya Ford. (Not pictured: Samantha Young) 

Several WGS students were also recognized during the 27th annual Phyllis Law Googasian and Women and Gender Studies Luncheon, including Dallas Lacross, Gabrielle Schmidt and Samantha Young, who were recipients of the Mary Van Sell Scholarship.

“Mary Van Sell was a professor at Oakland University in the School of Business Administration who was involved in creating the successful proposal to develop a degree program in Women and Gender Studies at Oakland University,” said Amy DeBaets, assistant professor of foundational medical studies in the OU William Beaumont School of Medicine.

“When she passed away, she willed that her house be sold to support the WGS program, and those funds were used to create an endowment to annually award students who have achieved excellence as WGS majors or minors, or students in the LGBTQ studies minor,” DeBaets added. “In addition to academic excellence, these students also serve as leaders within the community, within organizations devoted to gender studies and feminist endeavors.”

Lacross was also presented with the WGS Scholastic Achievement Award, which is given to recognize the scholarly accomplishments of students who are majors or minors in the WGS program or the LGBTQ Studies minor. In addition, WGS student Maya Ford received the Barbara B. Hamilton Leadership & Service Award, which is given to a student for excellence in voluntary leadership and service in feminist organizations and community agencies, and graduating senior Katherine Williams was recognized during the luncheon for her capstone work, which examines the relationship between the film, “Love, Simon,” and the critical reception that the film received to examine how public perception surrounding the LGBTQ media are shaped.

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