Ruth Schillinger Award

award winners

-- Ruth Schillinger, Ginny Higgins, and Dr. Helen McElree at the first Ruth Schillinger Award Reception -- 

The Ethnic and Gender Studies Program annually selects one person to receive the Ruth Schillinger Award, named after a long-time Dean of Women and ESU's first Affirmative Action officer. The award is given to an individual who has made extraordinary contributions to the women of Emporia State over a sustained period of time.

Past winners of the Ruth Schillinger Award include: 

  • 1996 Dr. Ruth Schillinger

ruth schillinger

In the 60's, women faculty, under the leadership and inspiration of the Women's Council and then Dean of Women, Ruth Schillinger, addressed such concerns as equity in pay, job satisfaction, questions of promotion, maternity leave, and sex discrimination.  This council looked at the lack of women in administrative positions, and its concerns were in part responsible for the hiring of several female administrators in the 1970's. 


  • 1997 Dr. Helen McElree


McElree  joined the ESU Biology Department in 1961.  She was elected as the first President of the new Faculty Senate in 1968.  She is the only ESU faculty member ever to be elected as Faculty President twice.  Her research in Microbiology has led to her feature in several articles and the reception of a number of grants.  She was honored as the 1982 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, and has written several commentaries for the Bulletin on Women's Rights.  She retired from the University in 1991.


  • 1998 Dr. Mary Bonner

mary bonnerMary Bonner began her career in Emporia in a sixth-grade classroom at Butcher Elementary School.  She took leave to study and upon returning, was placed in the Department of Administrative Curriculum and Instruction. In 1979, Mary's alma mater honored her with an honorary doctorate for her contributions to education and her humanitarian efforts.  She was an ESU faculty senator for three years, a member of the Kansas Standardization Committee, president of Emporia's National Association for the Advancement of Colored People chapter, listed in the International Directory of Distinguished Leaders and Noteworthy Americans, and she helped establish the first chartered sorority, Sigma Gamma Rho, to welcome African-American women at ESU.  Mary and her husband oversee the Bonner and Bonner Lecture Series at ESU.


  • 1999 Dr. Ginny Higgins

ginny higginsProf. Higgins has taught in the Department of Communication & Theatre since 1964, including Public Speaking, Interpersonal Communication, Group Discussion, Gender and Communication, Classroom Communication, and Contemporary Issues in Free Speech. For many years Ginny advised all the students who studied to be Speech, Theatre, and Debate teachers and taught the Methods course for the department. She also is the current chair of the university's AIDS Committee. Ginny was the first person to receive the Outstanding College Teacher of Speech award from the Kansas Speech Communication Association twice. She is also active as a community volunteer and currently serves as Chairperson of the Lyon County Chapter of the American Red Cross. 


  • 2000 Dr. Mary Headrick

Mary HeadrickMary Headrick served in various capacities at ESU before her retirement in 1992.  During the 27 years she was at ESU, Headrick taught classes and supervised graduate students, was a counselor, and served as the University's Affirmative Action Officer. Mary Headrick was a counselor in Student Affairs from 1968 until 1992, and the affirmative action officer from 1986 until 1992.  From 1975 until 1981, she lectured part-time in the counselor education department and founded the Biofeedback Lab and the Women's Resource Center in the early '70s. Additionally, Mary began the Women's Resource Center, the Biofeedback Lab, and the Susan B. Anthony Scholarship, which is awarded to the ESU student who demonstrates a beneficial impact on the growth and education of women on the ESU campus, demonstrates a need for financial aid, and displays academic competence. 

  •  2001 Sally Torrey

sally torrey

Sally Torrey retired from Emporia State in 1996 after 17 years of service, when she was the director of the Women's Resource Center.  Sally founded the Women's Programming Board, secured a grant to establish our Sexual Assault Prevention Program, was instrumental in establishing the Single Parent Program, and was active in other ways both on and off campus to better the condition of women, including work with SOS and the Girl Scouts of the Flint Hills.


  • 2002 Dr. Elizabeth "Betsey" Yanik

Betsey Yanik

Dr. Yanik, Professor in the Division of Mathematics and Computer Science at ESU, is the Assistant Director of the Women and Mathematics Network, a national organization for directors of outreach programs for young women.  She is a co-organizer of SMASH -Summer Mathematics and Sciences Holiday- a nonresidential summer program for 9th grade girls which is funded by Tensor grant.  Dr. Yanik is also co-organizer of MASTER IT -Mathematics and Science To Explore caReers Investigating Together- which is a residential summer program for 24 rising 8th grade and 24 rising 9th grade young women.  This is funded by a National Science Foundation grant.  Her major contributions include Sonia Kovalesky Day A day of recognition for women in mathematics; Expanding Your Horizons A day-long conference for middle school girls which includes workshops and discussions aimed at helping young girls say interested in math; Catching Your Dreams: An event for Girls Scout Brownies that centers around science and math activities. 


  • 2003 Dr. Tes Mehring

Tes Mehring

Arriving at ESU in 1981, Mehring advanced through the ranks from lecturer through professor. 

In 1993, Mehring was appointed associate dean of The Teachers College, Emporia State’s nationally-recognized teacher education program. She became dean of The Teachers College in 1995, and also served as interim Vice President for Academic Affairs for five months in the latter part of 2006. During her tenure as dean, The Teachers College was named one of four ‘model’ teacher preparation programs in the nation in the report, “Educating School Teachers,” written by Dr. Arthur Levine, president emeritus of Columbia University Teachers College. The Teachers College was identified in Edutopia magazine as one of ten schools of education that are blazing the trail to better teaching practices. 


  • 2004 Dr. Karen Manners Smith

Karen Manners Smith

Dr. Smith is a Professor of History, specializing in the history of American women. She teaches a variety of courses on women, including American Women's History, Introduction to Woment's Studies, Advanced Women's Studies, and Readings in Women, Gender, and Ethnicity. Additionally Dr. Smith offers courses in immigration and ethnicity, biography, the Gilded Age and Progressive Era, and modern England and Ireland . 

In September, 2007, Dr. Smith spent two weeks in Kenya as part of the Kenya Scholar Athlete Project, which annually prepares Kenya’s top dozen high school graduates for entrance exams and applications to U.S. universities.  


  • 2005 Dr. Connie Schrock

Connie Schrock

Dr. Schrock has been at ESU since 1989. Currently Dr. Schrock works with mathematics education majors by advising, teaching the middle/secondary mathematics methods, course, computer science methods, and supervising mathematics student teachers. During Fall semesters Dr. Schrock teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics. Another area Dr. Schrock works in is the use of technology in the teaching of undergraduate mathematics.


  • 2006 Dr. Joella Mehrhof

Joella Mehrhof

Dr. Mehrhof has published numerous books and journal articles, and is the current creator of the National Association for Sport and Physical Education’s Teacher Toolbox. Dr. Joella Mehrhof received the 2008 Vicki J. Worrell Service Award from the Kansas Associtation of Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (KAHPERD).



  • 2007 Dr. Ellen Hansen

Ellen Hansen

Ellen Hansen, Chair of Social Sciences and Associate Professor of Geography teaches world Regional Georgraphy as well as a variety of upper division courses, including Gender, Place and Culture, Geography in Latin America, Geography of the Great Plains and Kansas, Cultural Geography, Urban Geography, and Geography of International Development. She regularly offers upper division courses that are included in the Ethnic and Gender Studies curriculum, on the internet as well as in the classroom. Dr. Hansen's current research concerns the impact of immigration on small towns in the Midwest, geography pedagogy, and place and construction of memory. She is also interested in gender issues in international development, especially in Latin America. She worked as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Andes of Ecuador and has participated in several study abroad trips with ESU students. 


  • 2008 Dr. Susan Kendrick

Susan Kendrick

Susan Kendrick, Associate Professor of English, began teaching at ESU in 2001. She teaches courses in English Renaissance literature and British Women Writers before 1830. Dr. Kendrick represents the English division of the Department of English, Modern Languages, and Journalism in the Student Advising Center. She is a member of the Ethnic and Gender Studies Steering Committee and is on the editorial board of the University of Kansas Press.  


  • 2009 Elizabeth Locey

Elizabeth Locey

Elizabeth Locey, Associate Professor of Modern Languages and Literatures, arrived at ESU in 1997.  Since then, she has served as director of the French program, and since 2004, as Chair of Modern Languages.  Her research interests incldue French and Francophone women writers and cinema.


  • 2010 Leslie Lewis

Dr. Leslie Lewis

Leslie Lewis, former professor of English at Emporia State, was the founder and first director of the Ethnic and Gender Studies program. Under her direction, the program became a minor in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Ruth Schillinger Award was established. Dr. Lewis left ESU in 1999 for a faculty position at the College of Saint Rose. She became Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences and Professor of English at Ithaca College in 2008. She has taught with a focus in literary study, American studies, and the teaching of writing. In addition, she has taught African American literature and American literature, as well as a variety of writing courses. She was the Director of the American Studies program at the College of Saint Rose, where she taught interdisciplinary American studies classes as well as African American studies. 


  • 2011 Amy Sage Webb

Amy Sage Webb Joining the Emporia State faculty in 1996, Webb is Professor of English and Co-Director of the Creative Writing program. Besides being honored as the 2012 Roe R. Cross Distinguished Professor, other official accolades include receiving the Ruth Schillinger Award in 2011 for service to the women of Emporia State, as well as awards from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for Excellence in Teaching in 2007, and for Outstanding Service in 2008. 

  • 2012 Dr. Gaelynn Bordonaro 

Gaelynn BordonaroDr. Gaelynn P. Wolf Bordonaro, is the Director of the Emporia State University Art Therapy Program and an Associate Professor in the Department of Counselor Education. Prior to joining the faculty at ESU, Gaelynn taught art therapy coursework at Florida State University (Tallahassee, Florida), the University of Louisville (Louisville, Kentucky), and La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia). She has presented throughout the United States, Brazil, England, Jamaica, Haiti, India, the Islands of the Bahamas, Germany, South Africa, Thailand, and Australia on art therapy intervention in response to natural disasters, pediatric medical art therapy, using photography in therapeutic and special education settings, art therapy with geriatric populations, and art therapy with children with special needs.


  • 2013 Dr. Marie Miller

Dr. Marie Miller

Miller, who arrived at Emporia State in 1990, added dean of the School of Liberal Arts and Science to her repertoire in 2011. Miller earned a bachelor’s degree in music from Silver Lake College in Manitowoc, Wisc., a master’s degree in music from Northwestern University, and a doctorate in music education from Florida State University. She taught vocal and general music in classrooms in Antigo and Green Bay, Wisc., before moving to higher education, serving as an assistant professor of music at Silver Lake College and Southeast Missouri State University. 


  • 2014 Dr. Joyce Thierer

Dr. Joyce ThiererDr. Joyce Thierer's Ph.D. in American History, with an emphasis in agriculture, the West, and women, is from Kansas State University, where she also earned her undergraduate degree.  Thierer has a masters degrees in American History and in Library Science from Emporia State University.  She was a university librarian (Kansas State University and Wayne State College in Nebraska) for eleven years. In 2010, Thierer published Telling History: A Manual for Performers and Presenters of First-Person Narratives (AltaMira Press). The book has been very positively received and adopted for courses around the country.