Melanie Campbell honoured for advancing the position of women in academia

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Professor Melanie Campbell and OCUFA President Kate LawsonPhysicist Melanie Campbell (left) has been awarded a 2015 Status of Women Award of Distinction by the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association (OCUFA). This award recognizes her work on improving the position of academic women through organizational, policy and educational leadership.

Few realize the instrumental role Campbell played in implementing spousal accommodation, parental leaves, the availability of day care on campus and more equitable hiring practices at the University of Waterloo.

I want to put policies in place so other people don’t have to be the first,” said Campbell, a Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and School of Optometry and Vision Science.

Leading by example, Campbell was the first woman graduate student in Applied Mathematics at Australian National University. She was also the first person to take maternity leaves as a CSIRO Postdoctoral Fellow and as an NSERC University Research Fellow.

Simply being the first, and succeeding so spectacularly is a great service to all of us, because by doing so she provides a role model for both men and women of a woman’s success,” said Carla Fehr, Chair, Status of Women and Equity Committee of the Faculty Association of the University of Waterloo.

Having broken new ground, Campbell turned around to support and promote the next generation of female academics.

Through her leadership roles on various local, national and international committees, Campbell has tirelessly worked to remove the barriers to the success of women faculty members. She spearheaded the NSERC University Faculty Awards (UFA’s), a salary award to facilitate the entry of women and aboriginals into faculty positions. At Waterloo, Campbell pushed for the availability of day care facilities for infants and reserved space for newly arrived faculty members. While working at NSERC, her advocacy for maternity and parental leave for NSERC-funded students and fellows resulted in a policy that supported women’s success in academia.

Leading by example, Campbell has encouraged, supported and mentored colleagues and students. Her nomination of two women candidates for NSERC UFA’s increased the number of female faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Campbell’s percentage of female doctoral students is 17 per cent higher than the national average. Many of her students have continued on to become faculty members, industry scientists and senior university administrators.

Fehr says Campbell’s sustained dedication and distinguished leadership while simultaneously developing and maintaining a career as a world-class physicist, provides evidence of a truly outstanding contribution to the status of women in the academy.

Campbell was nominated for this award by the Status of Women and Equity Committee of the Faculty Association at the University of Waterloo.

The other four recipients of this award include professors Sandra Acker (University of Toronto), Kathryn Church (Ryerson University) as well as Haideh Moghissi and Marcia Rioux (York University).

OCUFA is committed to advancing and protecting the personal, professional and academic interests of women in the academy,” said Kate Lawson, President of OCUFA. “That is why we are so proud to bestow this honour upon such an exceptional group of advocates for academic women.”

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