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Pamela Forman receives UW System award for LGBTQ advocacy

| Denise Olson

Dr. Pamela Forman, professor and chair of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire's department of sociology and co-founder of the Eau Queer Film Festival, is the university's recipient of the UW System's 2018 Dr. P.B. Poorman Award for Outstanding Achievement on Behalf of LGBTQ People. This annual honor goes to one individual from each system campus. Recipients will be honored at a UW System Board of Regents event on Nov. 9.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Dr. P.B. Poorman Award, given to LGBTQ+ people or their allies who have helped to create a safer and more inclusive climate for LGBTQ+ people on UW System campuses. The award was established to honor the legacy of Dr. Paula B. Poorman, a former faculty member at UW-Whitewater, who died in 2007 and who dedicated her life to improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people.

Forman also is the interim chair of UW-Eau Claire's department of philosophy and religious studies and serves as an affiliate faculty member in the women's, gender and sexuality studies program. Her work has been instrumental in the transformation of UW-Eau Claire over recent years that earned it a five-star rating in the Campus Pride Index and recognition by as the number one college in Wisconsin for LGTBQ students. 

Dr. Tamara Johnson, UW-Eau Claire vice chancellor for equity, diversity and inclusion and student affairs, said she is pleased with Forman's selection for the award and grateful for her leadership on campus.

"Through many years, Dr. Forman has continued to play an important role at the institution, particularly in her advocacy efforts on behalf of LGBTQIA+ students, faculty and staff," Johnson said. "I am excited to see her recognized for her dedication and commitment to making our campus a better place for all."

Among the many accomplishments, roles and efforts that qualify Forman for the UW System honor, highlights of her nomination include:

  • Co-founder (with Ellen Mahaffy) and tri-executive director of Eau Queer Film Festival, attended this year by more than 1,600 people (2010-present).
  • Developer of the LGBTQ studies certificate in the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program (2011).
  • Developer and facilitator of an immersion experience to San Francisco (2016-present) and student trip to Frameline LGBTQ Film Festival.
  • Faculty advisor to PRIDE, UW-Eau Claire's LGBTQIA+ student organization, for 12 years.
  • Member the UW-Eau Claire LGBTQ Advisory Board for 10 years.
  • Recipient of the 2011 Community Leadership Award from Diverse & Resilient in Milwaukee for her leadership on behalf of LGBTQ communities in Wisconsin.
  • Faculty mentor for a student research project titled "Transgender Athletes and the Integrity of Sport."

Forman said she is honored to receive the Poorman Award, and she accepts with gratitude the recognition of what she sees as her most critical work.

"While I am honored to serve as the chair of sociology and interim chair of philosophy and religious studies, fighting for transgender and queer inclusion is the most important work I will do in my lifetime," Forman said. "Much of my sociological research concerns heterosexism, and currently, teaching 'Sociology of Gender' is an act of resistance. I appreciate the UW System’s recognition on my third nomination for this award.”