Feature Story: Inspiring and Empowering Women

Rachel Glass Fairchild, academic advisor and President of Empowerment for Excellence

Women’s History Month originated in 1981 with a proclamation declaring March 7, 1982, as Women’s History Week. In 1987, Congress declared March as Women’s History Month. UCO celebrates this month every year with assorted events, speakers and discussions. As we embark on another March honoring women and their accomplishments, I want to share a staff and faculty group on campus who works to support and inspire women throughout the year Empowerment for Excellence.

I was first introduced to Empowerment for Excellence as a graduate assistant in the Women’s Outreach Center (WOC). In that role, I advised student groups, created a peer mentor program and engaged the UCO community in events focused on enriching and supporting women. I collaborated with E4E and other stakeholders to create an exciting Women’s History Month. When I began work as a UCO staff member, I wanted to continue this passion and was thrilled to be asked to join the E4E board in 2018. 

E4E promotes awareness, empowerment and transformation of women by actively engaging faculty and staff in educational, networking and mentoring activities. Programming includes fall, spring and summer book clubs, the annual Women Who Inspire Award, and other events. The E4E board meets monthly to plan these events and discuss other opportunities to support faculty and staff women at UCO. Membership in Empowerment for Excellence is automatic upon employment at UCO. No membership dues are required.

Book Clubs

Book clubs have a rich history in E4E. Empowerment for Excellence was established in 2013 by a small group of UCO women who met in an informal book club. This inaugural group sought to develop a more structured organization to advocate for UCO women. They determined the following objectives for E4E:

  1. Create and promote accessible educational resources and programs that foster personal and professional growth for women.
  2. Provide networking and mentoring opportunities for faculty and staff to connect and champion women.

E4E facilitates several book discussions each semester. These book clubs tend to fill up quickly so be sure to keep an eye out for a new one this summer. In addition to focused study, these groups provide vital networking opportunities. This year, one of the fall groups decided to continue to meet and support each other, keeping up the legacy of the very first E4E book club.

Women Who Inspire

Each year, Empowerment for Excellence honors a UCO faculty or staff woman who has made a significant impact that may extend outside the campus community. We invite the entire campus to help us recognize the Women Who Inspire honoree during an event in the Fall (typically October). The honoree shares her experience with the audience and engages them in discussion. Nominations are submitted to the E4E Board, which votes to select the annual recipient. Recently the E4E board acted to preserve these incredible stories by compiling them in a book. The book is currently in the editing process. We hope to release it soon.

E4E Scholarship

Toward the goal of making educational opportunities more accessible, Empowerment for Excellence will soon announce a scholarship for professional development. The scholarship will be open to anyone who has been employed at UCO for at least 90 days. Additional criteria will be noted in the application. We hope that this scholarship will allow more staff and faculty to participate in learning activities that will benefit women at UCO.

How can you get involved in E4E? Participate in a book club. Attend the women who inspire event. Nominate a woman who inspires you. Support and inspire your colleagues. Apply for the scholarship to further your own professional education. Contact a board member with an idea or issue you’d like to address.

Current board members

Laura Butler

Dr. Jennifer Burris

Dr. Sunshine Cowan

Rachel Glass Fairchild

Lisa Kern

Lauren Loucks

Dr. Victoria McKee

Dr. Shannon Montgomery

Dr. Dawn Pearce

Dr. Kim Pennington

Cait Porterfield

Dr. Alicia Welch

Get-To-Know a Broncho

Sheridan Leake, J.D., Chief Investigator of Equal Opportunity

What is your background? 

My background is in law. I graduated from Oklahoma City University School of Law in 2018. Since then, I have worked in higher education for 5 years. Prior to going to law school, I attended courses here at UCO for Administration and Management for Criminal Justice. My bachelor’s degree is also from Oklahoma City University where I earned my degree in Justice Studies-Criminology and a minor in Spanish.

Tell me how you first got involved at UCO.  

I first got involved at UCO in 2020 by working for legal in the athletic department as a Compliance Administrator. Quickly after starting, I moved into the role of Director of Athletic Compliance for 2 years and then came to the Title IX Office in May 2022. I have worked as a Deputy Title IX Coordinator for the duration of my time here at UCO.

What would you say your strongest beliefs are about your contributions to the university? 

My strongest belief for my contribution to UCO is the work I do Title IX. I am very passionate about educating our campus on what Title IX is and how we can actively engage in healthy conversations and relationships with one another. Our cases are a vital part of what happens on this campus and I do not take that responsibility lightly. I enjoy investigating cases for our campus and ensuring that everyone involved receives fair and equitable treatment.

What do you do when you are not working? 

When I am not working, I love to spend time with my son George. He is the light of my life and I enjoy spending time with him. He is at such a fun age, and it makes it such a special time for my husband and I to share together with him.

Administrative Support Professionals Academy – Register Now

Mary Howard, M.B.A., Director, Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA)

Building your brand through inclusion and strengths

Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Nigh University Center

This one-day academy, will provide participants tools needed to:

  1. Understand their own personal strengths;
  2. Build self-assurance in expressing their internalized values; and,
  3. Construct a confident personal brand that will represent one’s personal and professional expertise.

Presenter Daniel Suda will guide participants through an interactive and dynamic workshop filled with immediately applicable takeaways for building one’s brand.

Visit go.uco.edu/adminacademy for full Academy details and to register. Registration includes parking at the Nigh University Center, continental breakfast, lunch, refreshments and an access code to take the CliftonStrengths Assessment for $350.

Educator’s Leadership Academy – Year-Long Professional Development Opportunities

Mary Howard, M.B.A., Director, Educators’ Leadership Academy (ELA)

Network. Explore. Strategize. Wisdom. – The ELA Compass offers new direction and perspective through professional and leadership development. ELA customizes each academy for the specialized needs of education professionals. Here are the following professional development programs for 2023-24:

Transformative Leadership Academy

6 Sessions: August 31, 2023 – March 21, 2024

  • Leadership Skills
    • Navigating Cultural Differences
    • Legal & Issues and Government Relations in Education
    • Leadership Excellence & Well-Being
    • Effective Conflict Engagement for Education Leaders

Early-bird Registration Fee: $1,999, includes meals, lodging, and instructional materials for each session, ends April 30, 2023.

Regular Registration Fee: $2,499, includes meals, lodging and instructional materials for each session, May 1-Aug. 1, 202

Higher Education Department Chair Academy

5 Sessions: May 23 – November 3, 2023

  • Nuts & Bolts of Chairing
    • The Role of the Department Chair
    • Department Management
    • Curriculum
    • Strategic Planning
    • Employee Transitions

Early-bird Registration Fee: $2,499, includes meals, lodging and instructional materials for each session, ends March 17, 2023.
Regular Registration Fee: $3,000 includes meals, lodging and instructional materials, March 18 – May 1, 2023.

Academic Leadership Fellows

10 Sessions: July 21, 2023 – April 26, 2024

  • Big Picture of Higher Education
    • Mission and Institutional Culture
    • New Programs and Continuous Improvement
    • Institutional Effectiveness
    • Strategic Planning and Budgeting
    • Accountability
    • White Paper for Institutional Improvement
    • Breakfasts with Provost Simmons & Presentation to President’s Cabinet

Early-bird Registration Fee: $2,499, includes meals, lodging and instructional materials for each session, ends April 30, 2023.

Regular Registration Fee: $3,000, includes meals, lodging and instructional materials for each session, May 1-July 1, 2023.

National Nutrition Month


Celebrate National Nutrition Month with better digestive health! Claim your fully-covered benefit, GIThrive, for unlimited access to a Registered Dietitian and Health Coach. Your dedicated Care Team will work with you to create a personalized meal plan, provide gut-friendly recipes, and help you meet your health goals. Maintaining a balanced diet and fitness routine has never been this easy!

Get GIThrive today – it’s free for you and your dependents (18+) enrolled in a UCO medical plan. Unlock your access to personalized meal plans, expert articles and on-demand courses, and a free GutCheck microbiome kit ($150 value).

This National Nutrition Month, celebrate by joining GIThrive and taking control of your digestive health!

Start Today!

Voya Financials 5 Tips for March:


  1. Know your limits! Retirement plan contribution limits change each year. For 2023, they are $22,500 for those under age 50 and $30,000 for those over age 50.
  2. Financial margin sets you up for success. Margin is the difference between what you consistently spend each month and what you earn. Do you have dollars left after paying your bills? If not, it’s time to look hard at what you can change so you do!
  3. You are not alone on your financial wellness journey. Ask your Voya team for help. You can find them at 405-568-2889 or schedule at https://ok.timetap.com.
  4. Don’t understand investing? Here are a few quick definitions. There are 3 investment asset classes. Cash (is cash!), Stock (is ownership in a company), Bond (is lending to a company to get interest). Now you know more than you knew before!
  5. An emergency fund is the FIRST priority for any successful financial path. What is it? Just savings you can access in case of an emergency. Experts recommend 3-6 months of expenses be kept in cash savings.

For extra help, our Voya team can help. You can reach them at 405-568-2889 or schedule at https://ok.timetap.com.

Deer Oaks EAP Monthly Newsletter

All UCO faculty and staff have access to the EAP through Deer Oaks. The EAP provides free and confidential assessments, short-term counseling, referrals, prevention and education services for you, dependents living at home or elsewhere and anyone who lives in your household. View the monthly newsletter on the Hub.

February New Employees

Meet our newest employees.
Naia Sanders
Information Technology
John Stout
Information Technology
Micah Brewer
Information Technology
Steve Cade
IT-Service Management Coordinator
Information Technology
Wendy O’Brien
Administrative Asst lll
Academic Affairs
Sydnee Brady
Event Coordinator
Kristen Stewart
VetHERO Center Site Sup.
Enrollment & Student Success
Joel Rogalsky
Grad Admissions Spec
Academic Affairs
Chandler Short
Asst Athletic Director
Jera Winters
Grants Writer ll
Academic Affairs
Patrick Briningstool
Asst Coach Quarterbacks
Gabriel Curtiss
Program Analyst l (Temp)
Information Technology

Not Pictured:

Scottie Marchessault

Temp PT Technical

Enrollment & Student Success

March Birthdays

March Years of Service

The Broncho Beat – February 2023 Issue