Two University of Wisconsin faculty members were honored Thursday for their contributions to programs supporting female UW students.

This year's recipients of the Champion Awards were Jennifer Sheridan, research director of the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute, and Richard Barrows, UW professor emeritus of agricultural and applied economics, who is also a supporter of the WISELI program.

The $5,000 award was granted by the Women’s Philanthropy Council of the UW Foundation.

Both Sheridan and Barrows said the funding would be redirected back to their respective organizations, and added they were humbled by the award and grateful to the colleagues who nominated them.

"I made a conscious choice many years ago to devote my work to improving the working lives of women in male-dominated occupations," Sheridan wrote in an e-mail to The Badger Herald. As an advocate for gender equality on campus and in the workforce, Sheridan organizes workshops and grants to help improve the workplace environment for women.

According to Sheridan, WISELI has found success with its programs as more women are being hired to leadership positions within UW.

"The students have personal support, academic help and professional mentoring, which encourages them to remain in their science majors and pursue science-based careers," Barrows wrote in an e-mail to The Badger Herald.

The program, currently located in Cole Hall, reserves a section of the hall for female students pursuing degrees in science or engineering, who are able to sign up for these dorms when ranking their living preferences.

Both organizations rely on volunteers and support to maintain successful programs, Barrows and Sheridan said.

"WISE has been very successful because so many great women faculty volunteered their time and energy to be program directors and work closely with the students," Barrows said. "I think that the people who nominated me are really the ones who deserve the award."

Like Barrows, Sheridan said the people who volunteer their time to WISELI are the true "champions."

Sheridan also said the major funding for WISELI ended in June 2007, and the program now looks to campus support, grants and private funding to remain an active organization.

According to Barrows, students make great connections to faculty and other students through WISE residential program, many of which last beyond graduation.

"Some of the early WISE graduates are now supporting the program through their own contributions and help from their companies or organizations," Barrows said.

Apart from funding, both winners said the award gives recognition to excellent UW programs that benefit students beyond the classroom and university experience.

Sheridan and Barrows said they were thankful to the Women's Philanthropy Council for their contributions to the university.

"I was so touched by their love of this university and their desire to use whatever influence they have to see that women succeed in this university and in the world beyond it," Sheridan said.