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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Association for Professional & Academic Women honors Psychology Department Chair Patricia Morokoff as woman of the year

Media Contact: Ericka Tavares, 401-874-2935

KINGSTON, R.I., May 6, 2011 -- The University of Rhode Island Association for Professional and Academic Women has honored Patricia Morokoff, psychology professor and chair of the URI Psychology Department, as Woman of the Year. The association works to ensure that professional and academic women at URI are accorded equal recognition, treatment, and advancement.

The award recognizes Morokoff’s ongoing dedication to equity and the advancement of women. As co-chair of the URI Equity Council, Morokoff works to fulfill the council’s mission to advance equity and diversity throughout the campus. The council’s efforts focus on: faculty, student, and staff diversity; curriculum; campus climate; discrimination, attitudes, harassment, bias incidents, and more.

“I have a strong commitment to equity and social justice because I would like our campus to be the best campus it could be so we will be able to benefit from the brightest students, regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, and the other categories of diversity,” said Morokoff, who came to URI as an assistant professor in 1987 and lives in East Greenwich. “We need a cultural climate on campus where women students, faculty, and staff of diverse backgrounds can thrive.”

Morokoff points to the appointment of Katherine Friedman to the post of URI vice president for Community, Equity, and Diversity. The Equity Council advocated for the creation of this position and is recognized for leading the work to establish it.

The Association for Professional and Academic Women honored Morokoff at a May 4 ceremony at the University Club on the Kingston campus. Morokoff’s colleagues praised her for helping bring about a fairer, more equitable and diverse climate on campus.

“Her contributions to teaching, research and leadership are staggering in their depth, breadth, and commitment to campus life here at the University of Rhode Island and elsewhere,” said Psychology Professor Lisa Harlow. “She is the quintessential exemplar of passionate community involvement, vision, and advocacy, making the lives of all at the University, particularly women and minorities, far better for her being here.”

URI Talent Development Assistant Director Frank Forleo described Morokoff as a wise mentor and a caring advisor to many students, graduates, and undergraduates.

“Dr. Morokoff has changed many young lives and careers for the better,” Forleo said. “We all benefit from knowing her.”

Familiar with Morokoff’s work on the URI Equity Council, Forleo said she always listens and looks for common ground.

In 2007, the URI Multicultural Center honored Morokoff with its Diversity Award for Faculty Excellence in Leadership and Service. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook. She has 51 scholarly publications, primarily in the area of women’s health and gender, culture, and sexuality, to her name and she has worked with 24 doctoral students. Morokoff was the author of a grant request that recently resulted in $2.9 million from the National Institutes of Health to create a behavior change research facility in the Chafee Social Sciences Building. Construction is slated to begin in the fall.