Monday, June 27, 2011

Michigan Tech Affirmative Programs Director Sherry Kauppi retires; Jill Hodges appointed

By Jennifer Donovan, Michigan Tech Director of Public Relations*

HOUGHTON -- Sherry Kauppi, Michigan Tech University director of Affirmative Programs, is retiring July 1, after more than 22 years at Michigan Tech. Jill Hodges, formerly associate director of the Multiliteracies Center, is now director of Affirmative Programs, effective Monday, June 27.

"Sherry has devoted her efforts at Tech to the fundamental principles of fairness and inclusion," said President Glenn Mroz. "She is widely respected for the advice and counseling she's given and, in particular, the training sessions she's conducted on dealing with difficult conversations and situations. Sherry is dedicated to making sure that everyone on campus enjoys the benefits of equal opportunity in the workplace and the classroom alike."

Kauppi first came to Tech as an undergraduate and earned a Bachelor of Science in Scientific and Technical Communication. She has been employed at the University since 1989, beginning her work life at Tech in Financial Services. In 1991, she took a position in Human Resources as the employment manager. In 1993, she moved to director of Affirmative Programs. From 2006 to 2008, she served as director of both Human Resources and Affirmative Programs.

Hodges has been associate director of the Department of Humanities Multiliteracies Center -- which used to be called the Writing Center -- since 2009. The center was established to address the challenges of learning and communicating in complex and culturally diverse environments.

"Jill is an ideal choice for carrying forward the great work that Sherry has done," President Mroz observed. "Her devotion to helping our culturally diverse student body communicate more effectively has prepared her well to tackle and resolve affirmative action issues campus-wide."

Hodges, a member of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community (KBIC), says she has a strong attachment to the local area.

"I grew up fishing and hunting and still enjoy those things," Hodges noted. "I have strong ties to the land here and that's why I have never left!"

Hodges was raised in Calumet, where she and her husband, Bill, still live.

Hodges' work has long focused on affirmative programs, too. She helped design and oversaw the implementation of Tech's sexual harassment prevention program. She also presented an employee professional development workshop series on sexual harassment and another one on stereotypes and communicating respectfully in a diverse world.

"The work of growing an inclusive learning and working environment that is free from prejudicial discrimination and harassment is vital to our future," Hodges says. "Our climate here on campus has been constantly improving due to educational and communications programs that have been implemented. Continued conversations regarding an inclusive workplace and learning environment are crucial."

Hodges earned her Master of Science and her PhD with honors in Rhetoric and Technical Communication at Michigan Tech. She also completed her Bachelor of Arts in English and her secondary education certificate at Tech. Her daughter, Kristin Arola, resides in Pullman, Wash., and her son, Adam Arola, in Portland, Ore.

Kauppi, a graduate of Hancock High School and Oakland Community College in Chicago, also has family roots in the Copper Country. In her early years, she worked in her family's businesses in Copper Harbor and Gay. After returning to the UP to raise her family, Kauppi also owned and managed her own businesses. She tutored at the college level and taught community classes in Chicago and near the Twin Cities. She has also done consulting locally and nationally.

Her son, Emmett Schneider, lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, and her daughter, Anna Magliocco, lives in New York. She has four grandchildren.

Kauppi fondly recalls her affirmative programs work at Tech .

"Michigan Tech is a marvelous cosmos of brilliant specialists who are focused on their careers, and they have an admirable commitment to the higher good," she said. "They would tell me about their struggles with thorny situations -- basic issues of fair compensation, personal identity, professional accomplishment or difficult relationships -- and I was privileged to help them find resolutions."

Kauppi said she leaves many good friendships behind. "I sincerely wish everyone many successes, professional and personal."

Regarding the world of affirmative action, Kauppi said she has seen both the growth of the program and the more recent assaults on the program in Michigan, as well as nationwide.

"The US has a passionate love affair with fairness," she remarked. "Government-mandated inclusive programs can be used to expand everyone's potential rather than simply a competition for pieces of a shrinking pie."

However, she adds, "The fires behind the fights over fairness are sure to continue as long as humans live. Preserving inclusive practices is especially needed during hard times, when the darker side of competition can take over if left unchecked."

*Text reprinted with permission from the article posted on Tech Today June 24, 2011. Photos of Sherry Kauppi and Jill Hodges courtesy Michigan Technological University.

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