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College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

'She's truly the colleague we all hope for'

History Professor Dana Simmons provides leadership, support to CHASS female faculty
By Lilian Tran, Student Writer/CHASS Marketing & Communications |

Dana Simmons has devoted her life to teaching. She is an associate professor in the department of history and has been teaching at UC Riverside for 13 years.

“With very little, if any, compensation, Dana has been tireless in her efforts to advance the careers of women faculty,” said Goldberry Long, UCR professor of creative writing. “She's truly the colleague we all hope for, one who wants all colleagues to be successful.  She works on their behalf without any apparent desire for recognition or praise. Words fail me; she's just wonderful.”

Simmons is a co-convener of the CHASS Women's Mid-Career Research Initiative (CMCRI). The initiative’s goal is to provide a support network for female faculty and faculty of color, to collaboratively and collectively move towards career advancement at the mid-career level. The initiative offers writing retreats, workshops, panels, and assistance in goal settings for the faculty in research and writing.

The CMCRI was formed by UCR CHASS professors Erica Edwards, Jennifer Hughes and Michelle Raheja in 2011 with support from the UCR Center for Ideas and Society (CIS). CIS has also played a huge part in providing support, funding and providing a place where faculty can continuously learn from each other, and for them to demonstrate their love for their work.

“The reward is being able to share the daily triumphs and challenges of my colleagues and to know that the folks out there are watching out for each other,” Simmons said. “I see them as models for my work.”

Simmons was recently nominated by 30 women faculty for the Rachel Fuchs Memorial Award for excellence in mentorship and service to women and the LGBTQ community.

Patricia Morton is a professor of art history and is impressed with Simmons’ leadership. “As a participant in the Women’s Mid-Career Research Initiative, I have seen how Dana’s leadership has positively impacted the careers of women faculty at UCR and given us new ways of supporting, mentoring and succeeding together,” Morton said. “She is constantly innovating new ways of advancing women faculty’s success. She exemplifies the best qualities of collegiality and collaboration, which are the core values of the Rachel Fuchs Memorial Award. I feel lucky to have her as a colleague.”

Simmons is deeply touched by the nomination from her colleagues and credits them for their impact on her own work.

“I was deeply touched when my colleague initiated this process and when so many of my colleagues and collaborators in the CMCRI co-wrote and signed this letter,” Simmons said.  As I said to them, I feel as if though I get more out of this group than I necessarily put in. The letter touched me and I am extremely grateful to them.”

Simmons will be taking a sabbatical leave during spring quarter to complete her book, focusing on the history of the science and politics of hunger and food insecurity.