Women’s History Month inspires us to move forward

A message from Davenport University president Richard J. Pappas

March is Women’s History Month. It has been so since 1987 when President Ronald Reagan officially designated the month to honor the achievements and resilience of women around the globe. Why do we designate months of celebration, of honor? Simply put, it is to inspire. We look back only to look forward. We honor past accomplishments to inspire the young and the passionate to move us to the future in countless new ways – ways that will change the trajectory of humankind. We endeavor to do that every day in the field of education.

Traditionally, we might mention Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who fought for the equality of women in the 19th century. We rightly cite Harriet Tubman for her incredibly brave and heroic work on the Underground Railroad. But we have many women today who are inspiring a whole new generation of young girls and women, and a whole new generation of achievers.

It would be an exhaustive list to name the many women who by their intelligence, their perseverance and their talents are impacting our world today. I am thinking of women like Nobel Prize winner Jennifer Doudna, the chemist who is the subject of the book, The Code Breaker.” The code she helped break with her colleagues is the human code. They invented a tool called CRISPR that can literally edit DNA. This is the tool the world needs to cure the myriad of incurable genetic diseases. The FDA just approved CRSPR gene editing to be used in sickle cell anemia patients. There will be more approvals and more cures.

How exciting to hold up these high-achieving women in completely different spheres of life to young women still deciding on their path and to women working every day to make a difference in their institutions, communities and within their families.

Half of my leadership team at Davenport University is comprised of strong, smart, capable women. We are fortunate to have several women leaders from around our state serving as our trustees. Both the chair and vice-chair of our board are women. I am fortunate to benefit from their wisdom. Our students benefit from their leadership and from the many women who bring their expertise and knowledge into our classrooms to inspire them.

During this Women’s History month, it is right that we recognize the contributions of women from the past and in the present, for they are all inspiring the future generation to accomplish what we can’t yet imagine.


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