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Feb. 26, 2003
OSWEGO -- Balancing work and home life, developing leadership skills and other issues that women face in the workplace will soon engage SUNY Oswego students more deeply, thanks to the generous gift of an alumnus and a matching grant from his company.
Robert Feinberg, a 1978 graduate of Oswego, and Ernst & Young LLP, where he is a partner, have established a visiting lectureship in SUNY Oswego's women's studies program.
"It is important because it addresses issues that will affect women and men in the workplace -- issues that women are facing now and students will face in the future," said Mary McCune, director of women's studies.
The funding will support a part-time visiting professor in women's studies, a position set to begin next spring and continue for five years. The lecturer will teach two courses, deliver a campus-wide lecture or workshop, and mentor students.
"A combination of personal and professional reasons" led Feinberg to support the initiative, he said. "My family experiences, both in growing up with five sisters, and now in raising three daughters with my wife, Robbi, have been heavily influenced by the woman's perspective -- not just in family activities but business matters," he said.
"By providing career mentoring with many staff at E&Y, I came to experience how critical supporting the development of leadership skills in women through sponsoring initiatives like this program can be."
While coming up with solid strategies is important in the business world, the key is execution, Feinberg said. Although gender really has nothing to do with successful execution, he said he wants to reinforce the notion that women should continually strive to demonstrate that they possess many basic leadership skills that are crucial to getting the job done: the ability to work in teams, to work with people in conflict situations, and to get people to work together toward a common goal.
Courses the lecturer will teach include "Women in Management," "Women in the Workplace" and "Employment Equity and the Law."
"I believe it's critical for men and women, especially women, to approach their careers from the perspective that it is normal and acceptable to seek job flexibility at various stages of life," he added, citing the challenges faced in balancing the demands of a family and career. "Nothing beats that sense of completeness that flows from attaining a successful work-life balance. It helps keep you energized about your career and leads to top performance," he said. "But it doesn't happen without that flexibility."
The visiting professor will offer lectures and workshops on topics such as leadership, gender equity, advancement and retention of women, sexual harassment and conflict resolution. The visiting lecturer will also be available to consult with campus offices and groups.
The lectureship is "really important for the women's studies program because it will raise our profile, broaden our mission on campus and reach some students that we perhaps haven't reached before," McCune said.
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