Two women leaders at Wright State University received top awards from the ACE Women’s Network—Ohio during its annual statewide conference at Wright State November 1. Jacqueline McMillan, Ph.D., vice president for enrollment management, received the Excellence in Higher Education Leadership Award, the organization’s highest external honor. It recognizes an outstanding woman leader who has made significant contributions to higher education in Ohio.
Amber Vlasnik, director of the Wright State Women’s Center, was one of two recipients of the Outstanding Service by an Institutional Representative Award. Regina Sapona of the University of Cincinnati also was honored.
It was only fitting that Mary Ellen Mazey, Ph.D., another female trailblazer with Wright State roots, presented McMillan’s award. Mazey, president of Bowling Green State University, was the first female dean of a college at Wright State (other than the College of Nursing), serving as the dean of the College of Liberal Arts for seven years.
“The empowering leadership here—President Hopkins and others—really allow us to grow,” McMillan said. “And they’re not afraid to empower and support that growth,” she added. “It’s been a good fit for me.”
McMillan has mentored and supported countless women students, faculty, staff and other administrators during her more than 30 years at Wright State. She has held a succession of leadership positions, including director of financial aid, minority affairs and recruitment in the Boonshoft School of Medicine, executive assistant to President Kim Goldenberg and secretary to the Board of Trustees, and associate provost.
McMillan believes in Wright State’s mission and demonstrates that through extensive community service. Her work has included serving on the boards of directors for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Miami Valley, the Atlanta-based National Nathaniel Anthony Ayers Foundation, the Dayton Urban League, Dayton Council of Campfire USA and the Dayton Dialogue on Race Relations.
“As we work to build inclusive institutions where all can succeed, it is critical to provide continued support for women at all levels of leadership,” Vlasnik explained. “Women’s centers, statewide networks such as the ACE Women’s Network—Ohio, and other forms of institutional and inter-institutional networking and skill-building are needed to help identify and close the achievement gap for diverse women in higher education.”
Vlasnik provides leadership and vision to the Women’s Center, which is entering its 20th year of serving students, staff and faculty. She also engages in extensive professional service locally, regionally and nationally.
She was appointed Wright State’s institutional representative to the ACE Ohio Women’s Network by then WSU President Goldenberg when she arrived at the university. Vlasnik has served a four-year term on the Network’s Executive Board as the communications chair.
Mazey fondly recalled her time at Wright State. “My whole career started here at Wright State. It was people believing in me more than I believed in myself,” she noted. “If it wasn’t for Wright State, I wouldn’t be where I am today; Wright State is what propelled me.”
Since leaving Wright State, she was named the first woman dean at West Virginia University and the first senior female administrator at Auburn University. “I have a 10-year-old granddaughter and I hope she doesn’t grow up in a world of firsts,” Mazey said.
The ACE Women’s Network—Ohio is a network of women administrators, faculty and staff from colleges and universities across the state that is dedicated to the professional advancement of women. The awards value individuals who have contributed to the advancement of women colleagues in higher education.