The University Record, February 5, 2001

Two to receive Power Award

By Jane R. Elgass

James E. Gruber, U-M–Dearborn professor of sociology, and Jayne Thorson, assistant dean for faculty affairs at the Medical School, will receive this year’s Sarah Goddard Power Awards in a ceremony at 4 p.m. Feb. 14 in the Hussey Room, Michigan League. The awards will be presented by Regent Rebecca McGowan. A reception follows the program.

Sponsored by the Academic Women’s Caucus, the award honors “the accomplishments of members of the University community who have distinguished themselves through their leadership, scholarship and sustained service on behalf of women.”

Gruber is characterized by his nominators as “a researcher, a risk-taker and a supporter and encourager of women.”

In his research, he has examined the causes, conditions and outcomes of sexual harassment, and he is an internationally recognized expert on the topic. As both a social psychologist and an expert in related legal matters, he has combined research and practical implementation. He has presented his work on the sexual harassment experiences of women worldwide in referred papers and presentations in the United States, Scandinavia, Canada and the former U.S.S.R.

On the Dearborn campus, Gruber has been active in the Women’s Studies Program and on committees as an advocate for women. He teaches in the program, served on the Agenda for Women Committee and participated in the Commission for Women.

He has helped educate the public about sexual harassment through media discussion in the Detroit Free Press and on various TV and radio shows.

Gruber received Dearborn’s Susan B. Anthony Award in 1993 for his support of women and feminist ideals. He also received the Distinguished Service Award in 1996.

As a “leader, mentor and tireless promoter of women and minorities,” Thorson has introduced innovative ways to address challenges women face in their careers and professional development. Her research on faculty salary equity, distribution of women across ranks and tracks, and promotion rates has highlighted inequalities women face in the Medical School.

One nominator noted that Thorson “encourages women’s success,” illustrated in one instance by the creation of two positions dedicated to the professional development of Medical School staff, three-quarters of whom are women.

“She fights tirelessly to champion women’s issues and to ensure that women’s circumstances are improved, regardless of the popularity of these choices,” her award citation notes.

Thorson is the author of significant studies on the role of women and sexual orientation and has secured a number of grants over the years, including one to help junior women faculty participate in national professional development seminars and one from the U-M Alumnae Council to create a Traditions of Leadership Award.

She also has been a mentor, implementing programs to foster the success of faculty women. Many have turned to her for both professional and personal counseling.

Prior to joining the Medical School, Thorson coordinated the Michigan Agenda for Women and participated in the President’s Advisory Commission on Women’s Issues and a President’s Task Force on Violence Against Women.