University of Wisconsin–Stout’s interim provost, Glendali Rodriguez, was one of 13 women in the UW System to receive the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award. According to Rodriguez, she was nominated for the award and was recognized on Nov. 7, 2019.

While Rodriguez is currently not working in a classroom, she is working as a full-time administrator. One of her duties as the interim provost is overseeing UW–Stout’s Academic Affairs Division. This includes the Academic Colleges, Honors College, the Office of International Education, the Graduate School/Stout Online Unit, the Nakatani Teaching and Learning Center and Career Services office.

According to Rodriguez, she works closely with many organizations that affect students’ paths at UW–Stout.

Rodriguez has also done plenty of diversity work on UW–Stout’s campus. She has worked with a committee that reviews courses in racial and ethnic studies as well as global perspectives. This included looking at the course criteria and learning outcomes.

She has been involved with Minority Faculty and Staff Network. According to her, the members mentor each other and build connections throughout the UW–Stout system. Rodriguez was also previously a member of the Diversity Leadership Team (now the Diversity Bridge Team), which addresses and helps with topics such as diversity and inclusion.

Rodriquez has also worked with the Steps for Girls Program. This is a summer residential program for seventh grade girls. Its purpose is to help target and teach girls about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math).

“More than anything, I just really try to model inclusion and welcome conversations around becoming a more inclusive campus and culture,” she said.

Rodriguez believes that diversity both on and off campus is critical. She has found through her time at UW–Stout that it is more important than she has ever considered it to be before.

Rodriguez, an architect, began her time on campus in 2005 as a professor in the construction program. According to her, many of the women in the program would gravitate toward her as it is typically a male-dominated space.

Rodriguez said that she is also Spanish bilingual, since her family is originally from Puerto Rico. This has allowed her to help individuals make connections with other Latin people on campus. 

While Rodriguez was working as an architect, she was also able to communicate with Spanish-speaking craft workers as well as those working on design, such as engineers. She believes that the ability to have these conversations across stakeholders is what makes a building project successful.

Rodriguez stressed the importance of diversity in role models. “That ability to make that connection and build that relationship with someone while you’re learning and developing yourself as a person—that’s really important, to just sense that you have these possibilities and say, ‘You know, I could do this. I could work in this industry.” Or, ‘Just because I potentially look or sound different, that doesn’t have to be a barrier. If anything, I can bring something more to [this industry],’” Rodriguez said.

According to Rodriguez, she was also the advisor of the Latinos Unidos student organization through 2007 and a board member of the Minority Faculty and Staff Group in 2008. In 2008, she also won the Outstanding Women of Color in Education Award.

In 2019, Rodriguez was nominated for the award once again. The nominator wrote criteria they believe makes Rodriguez worthy of the award. It was then reviewed at the chancellor level as well as the Diversity Bridge Team. After some feedback, Rodriguez’s name was put forward, and she later won.

“[Winning the award in 2019] was really exciting in a whole new way because I’ve really grown personally and professionally at Stout…” Rodriguez said, “[I’ve been] able to have these different roles and then to come full circle and get this award now where I feel like I’m working on these important issues—just at a different scale and a different level—was really an honor.”

Despite her excitement surrounding receiving the award, Rodriguez believes that there is still diversity work that needs to be done on campus.

“It takes a lot of people to really work on [diversity], and our job is never done,” she said. “I would say that I’m humbled by getting this award, and I recognize that I’m part of a team here at Stout. I just really look forward to continuing this work because we still have more to do.”