WSU Honors Hinckley, Collaboration Award Winners

OGDEN, Utah – Weber State University sociology professor Marjukka Ollilainen has been named the 2015 John S. Hinckley Fellow, and WSU’s Family Literacy Program and Healthy Relationship Project have been honored with the Exemplary Collaboration Award.

Hinckley Award

Described by students as a gifted, fascinating professor, Ollilainen joined the WSU faculty in 1999. She serves now as chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology in the College of Social & Behavioral Sciences. During her tenure, Ollilainen has taught 15 different courses on topics such as class division and gender inequity.

 “The admiration that her students show for her is particularly noteworthy, given that she deals with topics that often make students uncomfortable,” wrote Susan Matt, history department chair, in a nominating letter. “That she succeeds at making these issues relevant and accessible speaks to her skill as a model professor. She is extremely well-prepared, has great mastery of her subject and comes armed with interesting and provocative questions for each class.”

Ollilainen’s research has led to a number of articles on gender and work, examining both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and how they function. Her current focus is maternal leave policies in academia. She co-wrote “Carving a ‘Third Path’: Faculty Parent’s Resistance to the Ideal Academic Worker Norm,” which was published in 2014 in the edited book Gender Transformation in the Academy.

Ollilainen’s research is cross-cultural, examining both American and European workplaces and is published in both English and Finnish sociology journals and books.

“The cross-cultural study gives me great examples to bring to the classroom about how work and parenthood can be organized in ways that working mothers and fathers can do both,” Ollilainen said. 

She has published in and served on the editorial board of Gender and Society, a respected journal in sociology and women’s studies. Ollilainen was chair of the Committee on Teaching of the Pacific Sociological Association and chair of the Awards Committee of the Sociologists for Women in Society. She has held visiting appointments at universities in China and Finland and led a study-abroad trip to Scandinavia.

At Weber State, Ollilainen took a leading role in crafting a parental-leave policy for faculty as well as serving on numerous university, college and departmental committees.

Since 1991, the Hinckley Award has been bestowed upon a member of the WSU faculty who has excelled in teaching, scholarship and service. The award is named in honor of Ogden businessman and WSU supporter John S. Hinckley, who died in 1990.

Exemplary Collaboration Award

Child and Family Studies Chair Paul Schvaneveldt leads both the Weber State Family Literacy Program and Healthy Relationship Project. The programs, housed in the Jerry & Vickie Moyes College of Education, have extensive collaborations with 16 agencies and groups that serve lower-income and ethnically diverse individuals and families in Weber and Davis counties.

Together the programs empower families to support and prepare children to be successful students and citizens, which helps break the cycle of poverty. The specific goals of the WSU Family Literacy Program are to mentor and train Ogden-Weber Head Start parents to be more engaged in their children’s literacy activities and to teach discipline and child-guidance skills.

“Thanks to the concerted efforts of Dr. Schvaneveldt and the Family Literacy Program, children leave our program (Head Start) ready for kindergarten, and our parents improve their skills interacting and engaging with their children,” wrote Shawnell Howard, Head Start program manager, in a nomination letter. “Dr. Schvaneveldt has clearly demonstrated his commitment to the children and families in our community.”

The Healthy Relationship Project fosters communication and relationship skills for individuals and couples to prevent unhealthy or abusive relationships. Evaluations of the relationship project reveal increased communication and conflict resolution skills, healthy views of safe relationships and more positive family interactions.

Each semester WSU students actively participate in the programs’ home visits, classroom teaching and evaluation. Together the programs serve more than 500 families annually. Some of the partnering community organizations include the Ogden-Weber Community Action Partnership, United Way of Northern Utah, Your Community Connection and Catholic Community Services of Utah.

Several foundations provide funding and supplies, including the Utah Department of Human Services, the Glasmann Foundation, UBS Optimus Foundation, George S. and Dolores Doré Eccles Foundation and Deseret Industries.

The Hinckley and Collaboration awards were bestowed at a luncheon at WSU March 19.

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Allison Barlow Hess, Director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •
Allison Barlow Hess, Director of Public Relations
801-626-7948 •


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