May 17, 2011 — The University of Virginia Women's Center has selected Carol S. Wood as the recipient of the 2011 Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award. As the associate vice president for public affairs at U.Va., Wood is a dedicated and tireless spokesperson, journalist and media ambassador for the University – a role that can stretch to 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Wood will receive the award at a reception on Sept. 29, from 5 to 7 p.m., in the auditorium of the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature and Culture/Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.
The leadership award is presented annually by the Women's Center in memory of the late Elizabeth Zintl, an accomplished writer and journalist who served as chief of staff to the University's president. Given to a woman employee at U.Va., the award honors the high degree of professionalism, creativity and commitment that characterized Zintl's significant contributions to the University.
"This award is a powerful statement in support of women at U.Va., and I am honored to be a part of keeping Elizabeth Zintl's memory fresh for future generations of University women," Wood said.
Wood came to U.Va. in 1995 as director of news services and later served for two years as interim assistant vice president for University relations. (renamed "public affairs" in 2004). She oversees media relations; strategic communications, including editorial and design and audio/visual services; Web communications and interactive media; and community relations.
In nominating Wood for the award, her colleagues noted her skills in representing the University through thick and thin.
"Perhaps no other employee here has a more direct impact on the University's reputation," wrote Nancy Rivers, chief of staff for U.Va. President Teresa A. Sullivan, and Jon Bowen, one of the president's assistants. "As the official spokesperson, she is quite literally the face of the University. She is known for her candor and tenacity with reporters."
"The role as the University's spokesperson is remarkably important," said Patricia L. Cluff, associate vice president for strategic relations and marketing in the U.Va. Health System. "What we say and how we say it impacts the image and preference for the University of Virginia. While each day there is an opportunity to tell our stories, it is in the moment of a crisis that the skilled professional has significant impact," she wrote in her nomination of Wood.
"When an event occurs that will impact the University – either directly or indirectly – by the time most of us are having our morning coffee, she has already been on the phone or on e-mail with Madison Hall, Athletics, International Studies, or whichever office is involved," her management team wrote.
Cluff and other supporters also noted Wood's efforts behind the scenes, whether she's assisting others at work on a specific project or helping employees to reach their full potential.
"In small gestures as well as grand ones, she lets those with whom she works know they matter," wrote the directors who report to her. "She makes our environment a humane one – with humor, with her interest in our lives outside work, and with the flowers she brings from her garden to liven up our space."
Wood has applied her talents as a writer, journalist, administrator and manager widely in order to intelligently inform others, promote and protect the University community, and situate the University in a national (and even global) dialogue rooted in the core values of community development, creative innovation and exemplary leadership, said her supporters.
"In my role, I rely on the expertise of many to tell the University's story, including its ambitious goals and aspirations," Wood said. "The University is a large, decentralized institution and the unexpected occurs almost daily. To deal with the myriad issues, I must often call upon students, staff and faculty to help represent U.Va. in the face of adversity. I am grateful for their generosity of spirit and commitment.
"I am also grateful to my many mentors, friends and colleagues – some of whom have previously received the Zintl Award – for their support, friendship, quick wit and love. They have sustained me."
Wood has a special relationship, in particular, with the reporters and editors of the Cavalier Daily, the student newspaper, whom she meets with and helps every year as the students take on new writing and editorial roles.
Thomas W. Madrecki, the Cavalier Daily's 2009-10 managing editor, wrote about what he learned from Wood: "Carol is much more than the University's spokesperson. She is a mentor to young reporters; an honest, creative and compassionate leader; and a genuine friend – everything the Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award represents."
The Cavalier Daily editors back in 1998 recognized Wood's mentoring when they awarded her a "Pink Flamingo," marking the best and the worst of the year.
"The How Could We Live Without You Award goes to Carol Wood for tirelessly dealing with our pesky ways (and for serving such good food)," they wrote in an editorial.
In 2009, Wood received the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award for her service to the University and her compassion for others. She also has been inducted into the Raven Society and received a Harrison Award for exceptional teaching and leadership.
Wood started her career in 1970 as a copy editor for the Norfolk-based newspaper, the Virginian-Pilot, and worked her way up through several editorial and directing positions at the paper's parent company, Landmark Communications Inc. She served as director of Landmark's corporate communications and vice president of the Virginian-Pilot and the Ledger-Star, among other jobs.
The Elizabeth Zintl Leadership Award uses a pan-University nomination and selection process. The award is made possible with support from the late David A. Harrison III, a devoted friend of Zintl's and one of the University's most generous benefactors. The award carries a $1,000 prize for the honoree to use for her professional or personal development.