SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - With more than 100 admirers on hand, Carol Matteson, a 1968 Slippery Rock University graduate, former professor and retired president of Mount Ida College, received SRU's inaugural Title IX Champion Award Monday.
Cheryl Norton, SRU president, lauded Matteson for demonstrating "visionary leadership" and making "a significant contribution to gender equity. Over her lifetime, Carol has been engaged in the critical issues of education," Norton said.
Matteson, a former SRU physical education faculty member, longtime supporter of Title IX and first woman president of Mount Ida, said she cherished the honor.
"I really appreciate the recognition and am deeply humbled by the award," Matteson said. "All I can say is - Go Rock."
Title IX is the landmark legislation requiring schools and colleges receiving federal money in any education program or activity to provide the same opportunities for females as they provide for males. It was enacted in 1972 and took effect in 1975.
SRU's inaugural award corresponded with the University's three-day "Diversity and Inclusion Series" featuring 20 events focusing on the importance and impact of Title IX.
The newly created SRU award, which is to be presented annually, recognizes and honors an individual who has made significant contributions to the advancement of gender equity. The recipient of the award must have demonstrated sustained accomplishments in one or more of the following areas:
- Access and Opportunity: Broadening access and opportunity for women in higher education; Achievement: Contributing to the achievement of women in athletics, the public or private sector, or service to the community;
- Equity: Contributing to the achievement of gender equity at any level of the academic community; and
- Leadership: Providing leadership on issues related to gender equity.
In accepting the award, Matteson paid tribute to her alma mater.
"They say you can't go home again. Well, you can," Matteson said. "Without a Slippery Rock education, I wouldn't be standing here today."
Matteson said she would be remiss if she didn't mention that she stands on the shoulders of her coaches at SRU who advocated for women athletes before Title IX. As an SRU undergraduate, Matteson played tennis for the late Martha Haverstick. Other pioneer coaches include Anne Griffith, women's basketball; Patricia Zimmerman, "mother of Rock field hockey;" and Mary Wheaton, volleyball.
"Those coaches were important individuals in my life," Matteson said. "They never said, 'You can't do something.' It was always the aspiration of what you can do."
Still, Matteson said gender disparity in sports continues. Matteson said all women's teams at SRU in the 1960s were coached by women but there has been a trend in recent years toward men coaches. She wants to see more women coaches
"I have a strong interest in encouraging young women to move into the coaching arena," she said. "We've come a long way, baby, but we're not there yet."
Norton said the Title IX Champion Award was conceived several months ago. "One name continued to rise to the top of everybody's list ¬- Carol Matteson," she said.
Donna Lopiano, one of "The 10 Most Powerful Women in Sports," presented a keynote address for the series and spoke at the banquet in the Smith Student Center Ballroom honoring Matteson.
"We look at her as an example of paying it forward," Lopiano said. "I'm glad you invited me today to say thank you, Carol. We live a better life because of you."
Lopiano said parents could do their part to develop their daughters' interest in women's sports. "Instead of a Barbie doll, give them a ball and glove," she said.
President Norton called Ann Cody, the director of policy and global outreach for BlazeSports America, to the podium. Cody said she shares a common bond with SRU because she advocates for adapted physical activity, a field pioneered by Slippery Rock University.
"Adapted physical activity has made a difference for me personally and professionally," Cody said. "I get really passionate and emotional about it."
Matteson's roots to SRU run deep. In 1999, she received the Outstanding Alumni Award. She and Jan Kasnevich, '68, launched the Dr. Martha Haverstick Endowed Scholarship that provides $1,000 a year to women physical education majors.
Matteson helped launch SRU's Claire R. Schmieler Leadership Institute for Professional Women during which she shared her own experiences in accepting challenges that allowed her to grow professionally. She also made a substantial financial gift to the program. In 1999, she created the Carol Matteson Women's Basketball and Track and Field Scholarship at SRU. She also established the Katherine M. Moore Memorial Fund in 1989 to honor Moore, a 1975 SRU graduate and coordinator in SRU's McLachlan Student Health Center.
In 1991, Matteson was named a "Distinguished Educator" in Pennsylvania.
Prior to being named Mount Ida College's fifth president, Matteson served in executive and faculty positions at several colleges and universities in the U.S. and Australia.
Under her leadership, Mount Ida College developed and implemented an innovative "All-College Curriculum" blending professional preparation with the liberal arts. In addition, the college implemented a new vision and corresponding strategic plan resulting in the expansion of bachelor degree offerings, an increase in student enrollment and a new era of financial stability. Matteson retired in 2010 and lives in North Carolina.
After retiring from Mount Ida in 2010, the trustees honored her by creating a scholarship fund for student leadership in her name. The scholarship supports and honors students with demonstrated financial need and that have exhibited leadership skills in the classroom and the campus community.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.