SIUC awarded for partnership with Women’s Center

By Gus Bode

For more information on the Carter Partnership Award, visit

Although Mythili Rundblad said she doesn’t volunteer to win awards, being recognized makes it feel even more rewarding.


The partnership between the Women’s Center in Carbondale and SIUC was awarded the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Partnership Award on Oct. 16 at a ceremony in Chicago.

Awarded biannually by the Campus Compact for Community Service, the honor provides recognition and a monetary award to three exceptional partnerships in a state chosen each year by the Carters.

The process began in May when Rundblad, a coordinator of student development, with the help of Joan McDermott, prepared and submitted a 10-page application. McDermott is the director of women’s studies and former president of the board of directors for the Women’s Center.


The award was presented by Rosalynn Carter, who gave a short inspirational speech before announcing the grand winner, Rundblad said.

“We were sitting at the edge of our seats, and she said ‘And this year’s Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Award goes to -‘ right when she said ‘Southern’ we were all up on our feet and hugging each other,” Rundblad said.

The partnership will receive a golden statue of a globe and $15,000 to split equally. The award must be used for volunteerism and civic engagement of students, but both members of the partnership said they will wait for more specific guidelines to make plans for the money.

“Some of our students do so much at the Women’s Center, and now hopefully the campus and the larger community knows that,” Rundblad said.

To qualify for the award, a partnership of at least two years must demonstrate the complexity of community involvement on the part of the academic institution, the extent and history of shared power and decision-making, the sustainability of the partnership and the extent of the partnership’s positive impact on the larger community. The application was also to include two letters of support for the partnership’s accomplishments, as well as two or three pictures demonstrating its work. Twelve Illinois schools applied for the award.

Applications were judged by well-known people from across the country, but their names were not revealed, Rundblad said.

A month before the award was presented, SIUC and the Women’s Center were one of three finalists competing for the grand prize, Rundblad said.

“I just felt very good being a finalist because I knew a partnership with the Women’s Center is so multifaceted,” Rundblad said.

Camille Dorris, executive director of the Women’s Center, was a member of the delegation receiving the award in Chicago.

“One of the reasons that we stand out is because the Women’s Center is nearly 34 years old, and for nearly 34 years we’ve had a relationship with the university,” Dorris said.

SIUC provides volunteers through organizations such as the Saluki Volunteer Corps to answer calls through the crisis hotline, work on specific projects such as annual Clean Up Day and complete training to act as direct service volunteers, Dorris said.

“It’s almost as if there’s an extension of our staff because we rely so heavily on them,” Dorris said.

The university relies on the expertise of the Women’s Center for certain problems and as an opportunity for students to get experience, McDermott said.

Sarah Lohman can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 263 or [email protected].