May 6: Dean Christensen Hughes Named Woman of Distinction
Dean Julia Christensen Hughes was named a 2011 Woman of Distinction at the gala ceremony at the River Run Centre on Thursday night. Julia was honoured in the Education and Training category. Accepting the award in her absence (Christensen Hughes was attending a teaching conference), her daughter Sarah Hughes said her mother was “extremely honoured to be nominated” and praised her “wonderful colleagues and students.”
Julia has spent an entire career mentoring women as a university professor, as a graduate advisor and in her various leadership roles within the University of Guelph and the broader higher education community. She has had a major impact on the careers of female graduate students, serving as a role model, encouraging their efforts, and supporting their individual interests. Julia recently coauthored a paper on "talent management" with one female PhD student, who was interested in pursuing a career in management consulting. The paper became one of the top downloaded articles in the International Journal of Hospitality and Management for two years running. Julia is also well known and widely respected for her mentorship of women faculty and staff. During the two years that Julia was Chair of the Department of Business, six new faculty hires were female. Julia created a supportive and nurturing culture in which these new academics got their careers successfully underway. As Director of Teaching Support Services at the University of Guelph and as President of the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STHLE), Julia worked tirelessly to promote the need to change what and how faculty teach, and served as a role model and mentor for female faculty, staff and graduate students who shared this belief.
As the Dean of the College of Management and Economics, Julia possesses enormous profile in the academic world. One of few women in the country to hold such a position, she is widely sought after as a speaker on women in leadership and management issues. Julia was particularly pioneering in her identification of workforce diversity issues within the hospitality industry in the late 1980s, challenging such practices as gender-specific job roles and the sexual harassment of employees by customers. She is also interested in issues of engagement and succession within family businesses, and offers workshops for women who are interested in helping their family businesses become more effectively managed. Julia has mentored several women in CME's MA Leadership Program, who have explored issues associated with women in leadership roles.
Constantly creating opportunities for colleagues and successors, Julia's expertise, warmth and support have helped numerous women to meet career challenges and succeed in their careers and personal lives. For more information on the 2011 Women of Distinction award, read this Guelph Mercury article.