Every year, someone is awarded for their dedication to women’s issues on campus, which is seen as an important topic in this changing political climate. This year, the decision was unanimous: the award was given to Associate Director of Student and Multicultural Affairs Carrie Robinson, according to Director of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies program Anna Lawrence, PhD.
According to Lawrence, “When the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program searches out an awardee for the Lucy Katz award, we are looking for those who seek out social justice and has a central concern for the issues of gender, sexuality and women’s lives on campus.”
“[Robinson] has touched the lives of so many students on campus, and she has worked tirelessly alongside our faculty,” Lawrence continued. “She has undertaken many initiatives, is co-chair of the MLK committee this year, and is director of the Lucy Katz Dialogue and Resolution Program. She was promoted from assistant to associate director of the student diversity and multicultural affairs office this summer.”
President of Alliance Marcia Momperousse ‘18 commented on Robinson, who is the advisor of Alliance.
“Carrie Robinson is a wonderful woman and a great advisor,” said Momperousse. “She puts her all into any and every project she set out to do and does her best to create a safe, fun and welcoming environment. She’s brought more attention to the LGBTQ+ community and encourages others to embrace their diversity. She’s a wonderful human being and is very deserving of all her achievements.”
The Lucy Katz “Person of the Year” Award is named in honor of the former Fairfield professor who was co-founder of the Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program and chair of the Department of Management in the Dolan School of Business from 1983 to 2008.
“I’m not really somebody who does a lot of work for recognition; I just do it because it’s important to the students and important to Fairfield,” said Robinson. “So it was a shock at first but then it was really humbling and I’m really grateful and really thankful that people were taking the time to appreciate my work.”
According to Lawrence, “Lucy cared deeply about ‘making change possible.’ As she once reflected on life’s purpose, ‘you do something good and meaningful.’”
The award is decided by a Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies coordinating committee made up of 12 faculty members from a variety of departments, including Associate Professor of Biology Olivia Harriott, Assistant Professor for Marriage & Family Therapy Erica Hartwell and Associate Professor of English Emily Orlando.
According to Lawrence, the award has previously been presented to professors, student groups, administrators and staff members from “all corners of campus.”
Some of the previous winners include Professor of English Betsy Bowen, Project Peg, “a coed student organization for giving voice and visibility to feminism and for exploring issues of gender, sex, and sexuality through creative theatrical performance” as per fairfield.edu and the Founders of the Gender, Sex and Sexuality Commons.
Robinson commented, “The people that have won this award in the past are great pioneers on campus and it’s really humbling to be in that group now. It’s an important award to recognize women on this campus who are doing activist and social justice work.”
Lawrence, who nominated Robinson for the award, said, “her name received immediate, unanimous assent from the committee. This was an easy decision.”
Lawrence touched upon why Robinson was such a good choice for the recipient of this award.
“Anyone who meets Carrie is immediately impressed by her dedication,” Lawrence commented. “She is 100 percent devoted to students, and has a seemingly effortless way of always keeping them at the center of any project. Carrie works to develop students’ leadership and activism, by making their concerns the center of any initiative.”
Lawrence first met Robinson when Robinson led the initiative that brought two buses of Fairfield students to the Women’s March on Washington in January 2017.
Robinson headed this, as well as many other initiatives that embrace students of color and LGBTQ+ students, according to Lawrence. The award-winner has worked toward creating gender inclusive restrooms on campus, gender inclusive housing and equal rights initiatives.
Senior Molly “Anton” Martin, who works with Robinson in Fairfield’s Alliance, spoke about Robinson.
“Considering that she’s the advisor for Alliance and she’s a big part of the Office of Student Diversity and the fact that I always see her running around making sure everyone is equal shows that she deserves to win this award,” said Martin.
Lawrence added that the reception for Robinson that took place on Nov. 15 in Alumni House was a “beautiful event,” with a mixture of associates from her office, faculty who worked with her and students speaking and honoring her at the event.
“Everyone was moved to tears in their speeches, just thinking of how selfless and inspirational she is,” Lawrence said. “I can’t tell you how special it is to be in a room where everyone is so moved by the spirit of one person.”