Feb. 2-8, 2001
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Louise Dudley

Two chosen for Zintl Award

By Anne Bromley

A biology professor and the University's head of public relations share the 2000 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award, which recognizes their high degree of service to U.Va.

Claire Cronmiller, associate professor of biology, and Louise Dudley, assistant vice president for university relations, will be honored at a cermony Feb. 23.

The U.Va. Women's Center created the award three years ago in memory of Elizabeth Zintl, a writer and journalist who served as U.Va.'s chief of staff in the President's Office until her death in 1997. The award honors Zintl's high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment to the University. It also recognizes that such leadership is found in many areas throughout the academic community.

Claire Cronmiller
Rebecca Arrington
Claire Cronmiller

"We are honored to present the 2001 Zintl Leadership Award to two women who have contributed so generously to the University community. They are both extraordinary leaders, but represent excellence in two very different ways. Claire Cronmiller's mentoring of University women in science--both students and faculty -- has been remarkable, and Louise Dudley, who is often the spokesperson for the University, has helped to shape this community in powerful and humane ways both in front of and behind the scenes. Both Claire and Louise are wonderful representatives of the excellence and service embodied by Elizabeth Zintl," said Sharon Davie, Women's Center director.

Those who nominated both women repeatedly cite the exceptional efforts they make in quiet, steady ways -- Cronmiller in being a mentor and role model, especially as a woman scientist, to countless students, and Dudley for being calm and trustworthy with all parties as a liaison between the University and the media.

As the University's spokesperson, Dudley is a virtual repository of U.Va. history, noted her supporters, but more than that, she is known for her integrity in communicating information, especially on important issues or crises. Recently promoted to assistant vice president, she joined U.Va. as news director in December 1989 and less than two years later was named director of University Relations.

"I can think of no better person than Louise to speak for the University. No matter how well we perform our duties, if the public cannot trust the messenger, the message will be lost," said Leonard W. Sandridge, executive vice president and chief operating officer. "The University is doubly indebted to Louise, for helping us make the right choices on important issues and for communicating those choices to the public."

2000 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award

Presentation and reception:
Feb. 23, 4:30 p.m.
McGregor Room, Alderman Library Because space is limited, those wishing to attend should call the Women's Center at 982-2361.

In addition to being part of many committees and giving advice on strategies and responses, Dudley extends the same expertise to students in need. When the chair of the Honor Committee, Hunter Ferguson, faced several difficult meetings with national reporters, Dudley helped prepare him for the interviews, taking time to explain different approaches reporters use and answering his questions. "Through her patience, she displayed a high level of commitment to the accurate portrayal of the Honor System in the press," Ferguson noted. She also showed that she had confidence in his ability to speak on behalf of the Honor System.

"In all her activities," wrote Robert Sweeney, vice president for development, "I have noticed several distinguishing characteristics: grace under pressure, a steady and thoughtful approach to working with the media (often under highly charged circumstances), loyalty to the institution, a remarkable work ethic, responsiveness at all times, an unselfish tendency to deflect compliments to her staff, and the ability to maintain sound and productive relationships with internal and especially external constituencies."

Claire Cronmiller also displays a selfless dedication to the University through her work with students that goes far beyond normal expectations. A researcher in fruit fly genetics, Cronmiller joined the biology department in 1990. She applies creativity and care in all her interactions, according to her supporters, in ways that promote student success -- in life as well as in the classroom.

Genetics is not an easy subject, but Cronmiller has enlivened the large lecture format with activities such as having students act out the process of cell division and using a rap song to make genetics more accessible. Although the class enrollment tops 300, she invites the students to brunch at her house at the end of the semester.

"At the party, I had the chance of getting to know her family and learning more about her love for nature and animals. For me, it was an opportunity to witness a woman scientist's life among her family beyond her professional career," wrote third-year biology student Samar Yegenh, who described Cronmiller as a role model who "looks at her teaching position as a path to connect the human mind and soul."

She not only tutors and advises students in biology, "she helps the whole person, not just the Œstudent' part of the person," said Ray Keller, the department chair. In addition she has participated in the Office of African-American Affairs mentoring program since it began almost six years ago. She makes a point of taking the students she is mentoring to her lab and to biology department functions, as well as attending the program's activities. All of the students paired with Cronmiller have had "a very positive identification with the University community," said assistant dean Peter Yu.

The award carries a $1,000 prize, made possible by a gift from alumnus David A. Harrison III, which the honoree may use for her professional or personal development.

Previous Zintl Award recipients include Dr. Sharon Hostler, medical director of the Kluge Children's Rehabilitation Center and McLemore Birdsong Professor of Pediatrics, for 1999; and Sylvia Terry, associate dean of African-American affairs, and Patricia Lampkin, associate vice president for student affairs, in 1998.


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