University of Rochester

EVENT: The 2008 Susan B. Anthony Legacy Dinner

January 28, 2008

Former City Council President Lois J. Giess Receives Lifetime Achievement Award

It was an epic battle and Susan B. Anthony was on fire to win it.

Back in 1898, only men were able to enroll at the University of Rochester. Anthony made it her personal battle to change that.

When she stood up against University of Rochester President Rush Rhees and male trustees to win admittance of women, Anthony won ground for strong, intelligent women everywhere, says Nora Bredes, director of the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership at the University of Rochester's River campus. The decision to admit women into the University was made by the trustees on Sept. 8, 1900.

In remembrance of the activist's contribution to women's education, the 2008 Susan B. Anthony Legacy Dinner will be held at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 7, in the May Room of Wilson Commons on the University of Rochester. The annual event, which is open to the public, also honors the activities of students, staff, faculty, and alumnae. The cost of the dinner is $30.

Lois Giess, former president of the Rochester City Council, will receive this year's Susan B. Anthony's Lifetime Achievement Award. Giess, who served on the council from 1986 to 2007, worked previously as a public health nurse in Rochester's city neighborhoods. She is a 1963 graduate of the University of Rochester's School of Nursing.

Giess says her many years serving as a hands-on political leader and neighborhood activist for the Rochester community was directly fed by her years as a public health nurse in troubled areas of the city.

"Nurses in general look at a problem on their hands, assess the situation and the patient's problem, and move on the assessment to make things better, in reality," says Giess. "Teaching a nine-year-old how to administer her own insulin shot after coming into a home and assessing the severity of a situation teaches you how to appraise and react to issues in the larger social scope as well."

Although officially retired, Giess remains concerned about the high drop out rate among city kids in Rochester's schools. She plans to remain close to the issue through her connection with the Ryan Center in the northeast section of the city, which includes the construction of a community recreation center and library.

The evening program also includes the presentation of the 2008 Distinguished Women Leaders at the University of Rochester Award. The new award for mid-career women who have contributed to women's education will go to two University professors, Dr. Sandra M. Schneider, professor of emergency medicine at the University of Rochester Medical Center, and Judith G. Smetana, professor in the Department of Clinical and Social Sciences in Psychology.

Smetana is a developmental psychologist who has won international respect for her work on how children and adolescents construct their moral universe and on adolescent-parent relations. Schneider, a known advocate for health issues that concern women and founding chair of the department of emergency medicine, is the author of the book You Can!, a guide for women in academic and emergency medicine.

"Strong, principled, and brilliant women like Lois Giess, Susan Schneider, and Judith Smetana, indeed all of our awardees, remind us again that Susan B. Anthony was right to fight on for women's education and equality," said Bredes.

Student awards and prizes include Lauren Jewett and Julianne Nigro for Susan B. Anthony Scholarships; Meghan Gilligan for the Susan B. Anthony Prize; the Fanny Bigelow Prize for Eliza Kaye and Robin Levy; and the Jane Plitt Award for Susan Storey.

The Susan B. Anthony Legacy Dinner is sponsored by the Susan B. Anthony Center for Women's Leadership and the UR Women's Club. Seating is limited. For further information on table rates and reservations, contact (585) 275-8799 or visit