2019 CAMWS Special Service Award
Dr. Donde Plowman
Dr. Donde Plowman, formerly Dean of the College of Business and now the Executive Vice Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL), has been a strong supporter of Classics at UNL, particularly in the last year, leveraging her position as the #2 on campus to bring greater visibility to our department and the activities we sponsor.
Last April, Classics faculty at UNL organized their first ever Homerathon, a 21-hour marathon reading of Homer’s Iliad in English. A month before the Homerathon, we set up a meeting with Donde to discuss how she and her office could contribute to the event. Our hope was that we would get five minutes of her time and could convince her to attend and read a passage; what we got instead was an hour-long conversation that resulted in her substantial financial backing, her commitment to recruit additional members of UNL’s senior administration, and a promise to attend and read a passage. Over the next month, Donde met with our student organizers, giving them an opportunity to practice making their pitch to a senior administrator, and convinced a handful of Deans and Vice Chancellors to participate in the Homerathon. On the day of, Donde spent hours out on the quad with us, reading, schmoozing, and eventually (and unexpectedly) presenting our two student organizers with plane tickets to Greece in recognition of their outstanding efforts. With her help, our Homerathon ultimately attracted more than 200 people at its height, making both the student and local newspapers.
Following the success of last year’s Homerathon, Donde immediately and enthusiastically offered her support for this year’s event. She even convinced the Vice Chancellor of the Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources to match her financial commitment, leaving us with a sizeable budget to ensure that this year’s Homerathon is even bigger and better. But more than that, Donde has been an active partner in planning this year, and she has promised to use her contacts at the university and in the city to ensure that the event is attended by as many prominent members of the university and local community as possible.
Perhaps more impressively, Donde has consistently made time in her busy schedule to chat with us or our students about the Homerathon or anything else, and she has even used her social media accounts to promote us and our students. It bears noting that the students were so pleased with her participation last year and so grateful for her support that they of their own volition made her a photobook to commemorate the 2018 Homerathon; that book now occupies a prominent place in Donde’s office, visible to all who meet with her.
Donde Plowman has proven herself to be a true friend and ally of Classics at UNL, and she is eminently deserving of this award.