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Woman of the Year believes in mentoring

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September 22, 1999

By Sabryna Cornish

When Janet Engle learned she was nominated for UIC's Woman of the Year award, she was a little surprised. When she won the award, she was amazed.

The $1,000 annual award, sponsored by the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Women, honors a woman employee who has worked on behalf of her campus colleagues.

The award will be presented Tuesday at a reception from noon to 1:30 p.m. in the conference rooms of the Student Services Building.

Engle, associate dean for academic affairs and clinical professor of pharmacy practice in the College of Pharmacy, believes UIC is receptive toward women leaders.

"This campus is friendly toward women in general," she said. "I think it's a very open environment for women."

Modest about her contributions, Engle says she is just picking up where others have left off.

"Women before me have made the way easier," she said.

The students, faculty and staff in her college are quick to give her credit, however. More than 130 pharmacy students signed a petition nominating her for the award. A stack of letters from faculty and staff was submitted to the committee.

Her philosophy about work and life in general is "to do your job and stay positive."

It is the positive part that Engle emphasizes. "You really have to enjoy your job and work hard at it," she said.

Her latest project involves the development of on-line classes in pharmacy -- no mean feat since, when she began, she didn't know how to create a Web site, let alone conduct classes via the Internet.

She hired graduate students to help with the technical side and enlisted fellow faculty volunteers to teach classes on-line. She received a grant from Interim Chancellor Sylvia Manning last year to help develop the on-line courses.

"There really is a lot of support here for the goals of the campus," she said.

Clara Awe, director of the Urban Health Program in the College of Pharmacy, said Engle works to get women more active in administration within the college.

"Because of her tireless efforts, she has helped build a strong coalition among faculty and administrators, especially our female faculty," Awe said.

Engle has served on the Chancellor's Committee on the Status of Women, mentored women administrators and established monthly seminars for female faculty development.

Engle received a bachelor's degree in 1982 from Rutgers University and a doctorate degree in pharmacy with honors from UIC in 1985.

In 1986, she was the chief resident and advanced resident in emergency medicine/ambulatory care at the University of Illinois Hospital.

She began teaching at UIC as a clinical assistant professor of pharmacy practice. She was acting dean of the college from 1990-1991.

In 1991 she became the assistant dean, then acting associate dean for academic affairs. In 1996, she was permanently named to the position.

"The women at the college admire her because as she climbs up the ladder of success, she helps them and the female students," Awe said.

Engle pioneered clinical pharmacy programs at the West Side Veterans Administration Hospital.

"Under her direction this program grew and remains a key teaching and practice collaboration of the department," said Jerry Bauman, acting head of pharmacy practice.

She is a nationally recognized expert in non-prescription drugs and their interaction with prescription drugs. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show and is quoted constantly by major news media.

A guest professor at Harbin Medical University in China, Engle has lectured in Singapore, Thailand and China.

She is on maternity leave after she and her husband, Andrew Donnelly, had their first child, Elizabeth Ann, in June.

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