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UC Riverside Celebrates Women of Achievement

The University of California, Riverside Celebrates
Two Campus "Women of Achievement"

(September 24, 2002)

Adrienne Sims and Susan Straight have been recognized by the YWCA as

Adrienne Sims and Susan Straight have been recognized by the YWCA as "Women of Achievement" this year. Photos by Kurt Miller, The Press-Enterprise.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. Sept. 24, 2002 -- An award-winning novelist and the director of the gender education center, both from the University of California, Riverside, have been selected as recipients of the 2002 Women of Achievement by the YWCA of Riverside County.

Susan Straight, professor of creative writing, and Adrienne Sims, director of Gender Education and Resource Services (GEARS) will be among four women honored Thursday, September 26, at a luncheon at the Riverside Convention Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Judith Auth, director of the Riverside Public Library and Valerie Hill of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department are the other awardees.

The YWCA of Riverside County selects honorees based on commitment to the YWCA mission, proven excellence in a chosen career or avocation; demonstrated community leadership; and personal achievements.

Chancellor France Córdova noted with pride that UC Riverside accounted for half of the honorees this year. "With a total of just four honorees for this prestigious award, we are especially pleased that two women from our campus have been selected for representing the YWCA's mission of empowering women and girls, creating opportunities for growth, leadership and power and eliminating racism in all forms in Riverside County," she said.

Susan Straight, co-director of a new Masters in Fine Arts program at UCR, is the author of five novels. The most recent, Highwire Moon, was nominated for a National Book Award and won the California Book Award. Straight's other critically acclaimed fiction includes "Aquaboogie," "I Been in Sorrow's Kitchen and Licked Out All the Pots," "The Gettin' Place," and "Blacker Than a Thousand Midnights." She has also written two children's books, "Bear E. Bear" and "The Hallway Light at Night."

Her novels, set in Rio Seco, a fictional version of Riverside, feature characters set apart from mainstream society because of racial prejudice and economic oppression. The mother of three girls, Straight embodies the YWCA mission "to empower women and girls and eliminate racism."

Among her awards are the prestigious Lannan Foundation Award in 1999 and a 1997 Guggenheim Fellowship. She is a frequent contributor to, the Los Angeles Times Magazine, Family Circle, Westways and National Public Radio. She was nominated by June and T.E. Foreman of Riverside.

Adrienne Sims has been director of the UCR GEARS center since 1996, during a time when the center has sponsored a variety of programs new to the campus, including the Women's Hall of Fame, a Women Stopping AIDS project; on online mentoring program for female graduate students; and a new support group for students in abusive relationships.

Lulamae Clemons of Riverside nominated Sims based on "her distinguished lifetime of achievement and commitment to causes which have advanced culturally and ethnically diverse women in our society."

Sims, who earned her Ed.D. in institutional management from Pepperdine University, has received the Presidents Forum Award from the American Association of Higher Education for advancing student academic success; the Distinguished Scholarship and Service Award from Omicron Tau Theta; and a "Women of Distinction Award" from The Business Press, among other awards and honors.

She is past co-chair of the UCR Chancellor's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women, serves on the Board of Directors for Riverside-based EPOCH, and officiates as Western Region Coordinator for the California Women's Agenda.

Information about attending the awards luncheon is available at (909) 687-9922.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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