Two influential faculty members at Colorado State University, Ann Gill and Sonia Kreidenweis, were named “Women of Vision” by Colorado Women of Influenceearlier this summer.
Colorado Women of Influence is a member organization that seeks to create executive-level communities of supportive colleagues. Women of Vision are so honored for contributing to the well-being and empowerment of women, and the betterment of their communities through outstanding innovation, leadership and social impact. They received the awards at the July 18 Women of Vision gala.
Gill, the longtime and beloved dean of CSU’s College of Liberal Arts, retired in 2016. She made a significant impact on CSU during her more than 40 years as a student, teacher, mentor and dean. Her work as a professor of communication studies and as dean is reflected in alumni, the scholarships that bear her name, and in some of the buildings that house the students she loved.
In a video vignette produced by Colorado Women of Influence, Gill described her journey at CSU, from being hired into a non-tenure track teaching position, to earning her Ph.D. from the University of Denver, to becoming a department chair, and eventually, dean of the College of Liberal Arts – a position she served in for 11 years.
Her “strongest advice” to others, she said, has always been to “walk forward. Forget what happened to you yesterday. Just keep going.”
An avid supporter of the University Center for the Arts, Gill helped make the Gregory Allicar Museum of Art become a reality. She oversaw the remodeling of Eddy Hall and watched the Department of Communication Studies flourish in its new home in the Behavioral Sciences Building.
She was respected by faculty and staff and was dedicated to making liberal arts a primary part of a CSU education. But it was her relationship with students that warmed her heart and changed the lives of many.
One former student said, “For those who have the privilege and the honor to get to know Ann, she was more than just a college professor or dean. She was someone who became not only your friend, but someone who you would cherish and consider part of your family.”
She was particularly successful mentoring student-athletes, many of whom came from disadvantaged backgrounds and were the first in their family to attend college. She wanted to know about them as people before she learned about their athletic feats – an approach that endeared her to hundreds of them.
True to form, Gill did not really retire – she continued volunteering her time to bring alumni and CSU stories to life for the CSU Alumni Association.
Kreidenweis is a University Distinguished Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Science, and also serves as the associate dean for research in the Walter Scott, Jr. College of Engineering.
While earning department and college accolades at CSU, Kreidenweis also served on the leadership teams of two national organizations. She is a former president of the American Association for Aerosol Research and a past member of the executive committee of the American Meteorological Society. She has been a strong role model for women in historically male-dominated national organizations, as well as within the college, according to her nomination letter.
“Sonia Kreidenweis is a woman of extraordinary achievement for her scientific contributions, and for training a new generation of scientists necessary for our future,” said Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Engineering Stuart Tobet, in his nomination of Kreidenweis. “Sonia’s vision, creativity, and can-do attitude have led her down paths of mentoring, service, and responsibility [where] few faculty go, and fewer excel … She not only serves as a role model for junior faculty members, but also actively identifies and implements activities that have the greatest impact on assisting new faculty to develop innovative, compelling, and competitive programs.”
Kreidenweis, who was also interviewed along with all of the honorees, discussed her career track and offered some advice for women striking out on their own path.
“If a young woman [asked] me about how to create the life of her dreams, I would suggest that she pursue what she loves, because then work won’t feel like work, work is going to be fun,” Kreidenweis said. “It helps you get through the hard times. And never forget that you have your family and you have your support network, and people are always there to help you.”
Kreidenweis expressed gratitude for those who supported her along the way, and for this most recent honor to add to a long list of accomplishments.
“I’m incredibly honored to have been selected as a Woman of Vision and so grateful to Stu for nominating me. It was a big surprise and a very humbling one, and I’m really grateful to be honored this way.”
Kreidenweis was the first in her family to earn a college degree, and went on to attain her Ph.D. in chemical engineering at a time when not many women were pursuing engineering degrees. She credited her stubbornness for helping her succeed.
“The research that I’ve done I think has been important to the state and to the nation, and it’s a really great feeling to think about your research having some impact like that.”
Her colleagues and students have noted her impact. She has been commended with the Abell Outstanding Teaching and Service Faculty Award at the college level, and a department Professor of the Year Award, voted on by graduate students.