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The Old Dominion University Women's Caucus recently presented Renée Olander with its 2003 Outstanding Woman of the Year Award.

Olander, director of the interdisciplinary studies department, received a plaque in honor of her distinguished service to the university, particularly for her continued support to women and women's issues at the

Anita Clair Fellman, director of women's studies, described Olander as "a fierce partisan of women on the ODU campus."

She also said in her letter of nomination, "Whether she is dealing with the women students in her program or with her colleagues in the university, she is always proactive in noticing and encouraging their accomplishments."

In her nomination letter, Carolyn Rhodes, professor emeritus of English and women's studies, recalled the first time she met Olander nearly 20 years ago - when Olander was a student in her American Women Novelists course. "She was even then already an activist for women's causes as well as a catalyst for others to take part."

Rhodes added, "A skilled poet and essayist and a concerned citizen, she shows students, especially female students, that they can aspire to multifaceted lives which balance volunteer work with careers. She is a role
model too for many of us who are her peers ...."

A former president of the Southeastern Virginia Women's Political Caucus, Olander has led poetry workshops at many schools, libraries and community centers across Virginia.

She received her master's degree in English from Old Dominion in 1987 and joined the university the following year as an instructor of English. She served as a lecturer and academic adviser for the College of Arts and Letters from 1995 to 2000, and was named director of interdisciplinary studies in July 2000.

This article was posted on: February 18, 2003

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