Sappleton earns Woman of Color Award

July 20, 2017
Shan Sappleton

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Dr. Shan Sappleton, assistant professor of political science at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, was recently awarded the 2017 UW-Platteville Woman of Color Award by the university’s Women’s Council. She will be recognized at the 2017 convocation on Thursday, Aug. 31 and at an awards ceremony.

The Woman of Color Award, determined by open nominations, recognizes female faculty, staff and students of color at UW-Platteville as well as women of color in the Platteville community who have:

  • Worked in the areas of women’s studies scholarship and activism, especially as they have served to improve the status and climate for women, particularly women of color;
  • Advocated for women, particularly women of color;
  • Consistently demonstrated their ability to rally diverse forces together to advance the agenda of women, particularly that of women of color;
  • Created positive changes at the institutional level, i.e., curriculum development and infusion, receiving grants and mentoring women;
  • Demonstrated an understanding of the interplay of family and community and culture in the lives of women of color.

“I am most honored to be nominated for this award,” said Sappleton. “It is truly humbling and I am happy to be this year's recipient.”

“Dr. Sappleton is well deserving of this special award,” said Dr. Melissa Gormley, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Education at UW-Platteville. “Her work, both inside and outside the classroom, has been an essential component in the advancement of students’ understanding of the complexities of race and gender.”

Dr. Rosalyn Broussard, professor of political science and interim chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies at UW-Platteville, and Dr. Rea Kirk, professor of special education at UW-Platteville, nominated Sappleton for the award.

“Dr. Sappleton has created positive change within both the university and the greater community,” said Broussard. “She has successfully written and received several grants that have advanced students’ understanding of the social, cultural and racial realities of people of color at home and abroad.”

Kirk agreed, adding, “Shan is a warm, friendly, accepting and beautiful woman – inside and out. She is also extremely intelligent and uses her intelligence and expertise for creative, positive activism. I look to Shan for optimism, courage and initiative.”

Born on the Caribbean island of Jamaica, Sappleton has taught courses in comparative politics, international relations and African politics at UW-Platteville since fall 2013.

Sappleton has been instrumental in creating undergraduate research opportunities for students.

In fall 2014, she advanced an undergraduate research program that focuses on current social issues in the United States and abroad. Within this program, she mentored women students in a variety of political areas. That fall, she also received a Pioneer Academic Center for Community Engagement grant to help two of her students relate theory to practical experience in their research areas by visiting the site of the Ferguson, Missouri, incident.

In fall 2015, Sappleton gave students in her International Relations course the opportunity to present research they had conducted in class at “Refugee Crisis: Roots and Responsibility,” a campus-wide forum that addressed issues affecting refugee women of color during the Syrian crisis. That fall, in conjunction with the university’s ethnic studies program, she also co-led a group of students to the 50th Anniversary Voting Rights Acts Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota. In addition, she has worked with and mentored female students in the Black Student Union for four years.  

Kirk and Broussard said that in terms of scholarship, Sappleton has been greatly involved in women’s issues, both inside of the classroom as well as in her own research. They noted that throughout her tenure, she has been very active in helping organize and present campus-wide forums, including those related to women and democracy.

In 2015, Sappleton addressed the Ferguson, Missouri, racial incidents in a campus-wide forum, “Making Sense of Ferguson: Race, Police and Community Rights,” which led to another series of forums, “Race in America: Can We Talk About It?”

In 2016, she discussed the importance of the protection of minority rights, including women of color, in advanced democracies such as the United States in “Understanding the 2016 election: Outcomes and Implications,” a post-election forum. In addition, she discussed Islam and democracy in Senegal, including the role of women in the democratization efforts of the country, at “Is Islam (In)consistent with Democracy? Lessons and Insights from Senegal,” a faculty forum sponsored by the College of LAE.

Currently, Sappleton is working on another forum series, “The Politics of Discontent,” which will explore various socio-economic issues that drive political choice and coding behavior within the United States. 

Read more about Sappleton at: /news/pioneer-spotlight-shan-sappleton.

Written by: Laurie A. Hamer, Communications Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191,


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