Athena Honors Three University of Idaho Women Leaders

Friday, March 30 2012

MOSCOW, Idaho – The University of Idaho’s Athena Women’s Organization honored excellence in teaching and service, improving the work environment across the state and providing mentorship – all above what their jobs required – with the Athena Women of Year Awards.

This year’s winners include: faculty – Elizabeth Barker Brandt, associate dean for Faculty Affairs and James R. Wilson Distinguished Professor of Law; staff – Brenda Helbling, executive assistant to the Provost; and administration – Carmen Suarez, director of Human Rights, Access and Inclusion.

Barker Brandt was nominated because of her excellence in teaching and service to the women of Idaho.

“As associate dean, she has made huge and systemic changes to the running of the law school,” said Monique Lillard, U-Idaho law professor. “She has worked tirelessly to increase the number of traditionally unrepresented ethnic/racial minorities on the faculty.  She has used her considerable personal skills to guide all of us to improve our performance in teaching, service and scholarship.”

Helbling, a long time Athena member and former executive board member, was nominated because of her dedication and tireless efforts to improving the work environment statewide.

“I am consistently impressed with her dedication to my office and the entire University of Idaho system,” said Provost Doug Baker. “She has been instrumental in developing and implementing staff training for administrative assistants for deans and other senior administrators, served on the executive communications team, as well as on the issues management team.”

Suarez, a current Athena Board member, was nominated for making a significant impact in the lives of women staff and faculty and her excellence in mentorship.

“It is crucial that our campus recognize women administrators (of whom there are very few at the University of Idaho) who, beyond their day-to-day responsibilities, serve as role models for other women on campus,” said Heather Shea Gasser, Women’s Center director . “I feel very fortunate; too, to count Carmen among my role models and mentors who has provided some of the best professional advice I have received.”

The Athena Women’s Organization is an association supporting the interests of faculty and professional women at the University of Idaho. Established at the University of Idaho in 1987, Athena supports the growth and education of professional women while providing a structure where they can make recommendations to governing university bodies. The Women of the Year Awards are given to outstanding women faculty, staff, and administrators at the University of Idaho. Since the inception, 29 women have been recognized by Athena for their leadership and professional contributions.

For more than two decades, Athena has mentored and provided leadership opportunities for women at the University of Idaho. For more information about the organization, visit
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About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. Learn more: