Friends of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies History

In 1986, Laura S. Strumingher, who has served as a Friends Board member and a Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies faculty member at the University of Cincinnati, published "The Birth and Growth of 'Friends of Women's Studies' at the University of Cincinnati" in the periodical Frontiers.

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and the 20th anniversary of the Friends of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies in 2000, a chronology of the relationship between the two was created:

1973 The Coalition of Campus Women, co-chaired by Ellen Messer-Davidow, Elizabeth Bettman, and Rose Dellaska, met weekly to identify strategies to secure equity for women. Establishing a Center for Women's Studies was its first priority.
1974 The Center opened September 1 to facilitate research and course development concerning women and gender-related issues and to coordinate the interdisciplinary Women's Studies Certificate program. Dana Vannoy, Ph.D., served as the Center's first director (1974-78).
1976 Dana Vannoy and Sally Lovett organized a major city conference, "Pioneers for Century III," to discuss women's history and issues. Future Friends Bev Allinsmith, Jeanne Bonham, Cynthia Dember, Paula Dubeck, Pat Durcholz, Judy Green, and Marian Spencer assisted and more than 1,500 participants came.
1978 Barbara Ramusack, Ph.D., professor of Asian History, became acting director of the Center as Robin Sheets, Ph.D., chaired the search committee for a new director.
1979 Laura Strumingher, Ph.D., a social historian of 19th-century France, became Director of the Center, which then offered 50 courses.
1980 Laura proposed a support group for the Center and formed an advisory board of five members: Bev Allinsmith, Jeanne Bonham, Janet, Duff, Adele Goldstein, and Marian Spencer. At a May 21 reception hosted by Bea Winkler, 52 women and one man, Professor David Sterling, signed the Friends' logo and became members. This historic event took place in a tent in the Winklers' yard.
1981 Adele Goldstein was elected first president of Friends and Bea Winkler became first Honorary Chair. Friends set a $100,000 fundraising goal to finance a visiting professor and provide research mini-grants.
1982 The first Women's Studies Presents luncheon, to give awards to distinguished UC women graduates, was held in May at the Faculty Club. Bobbie Sterne was keynote speaker and workshops were given to introduce Women's Studies faculty and their courses.
1983 Adele Goldstein chaired a lecture and reception at Cincinnati Art Museum in connection with the exhibit "Elizabeth Nourse, Adele 1859-1938." The artist and the guest curator, Goldstein Mary Alice Burke, were both UC alumnae.
1984 The first visiting professor, Janet Mills, taught Speech Communication and Human Relations in spring quarter. The Center's first anthology of women's history in Cincinnati, Women in Cincinnati, A Century of Achievement, 1870-1970, Vol. 1, was published by the Cincinnati Historical Society. Friends also co-sponsored "Decisions by Women III: New Power/New Politics," a series of seminars at the UC College of Law.
1985 Laura Strumingher resigned as Center director in August to become Provost for Academic Planning. Lynette Carpenter, Assistant Professor of English, became acting director. Bev Allinsmith was elected second president of Friends and membership reached 460. Friends held the exhibit: "Emeritae: Women Who Have Built the University of Cincinnati."
1986/87 Friends provided the seed money for Professor of Fine Arts Pat Renick and coordinator Laura Chapman to organize the National Women's Sculpture Conference. The conference attracted 3,000 participants from across the country. Friends celebrated the successful conclusion of the $250,000 endowment campaign.
1987/88 At the fall reception Friends welcomed new for Center director Hilda Smith, Ph.D., an historian specializing in 17th-century feminist movements.
1988/89 Mary Ellen Heintz was elected fourth president of Friends. The quarterly Centerline began publication. Hilda Smith secured a FIPSE grant of $140,000 for the development of Women's Studies faculty and curriculum. The results . served as a model for interdisciplinary studies nationwide. The Center's video "The Women of Rookwood: 1880-1930" debuted to 250 art enthusiasts at Cincinnati Art Museum. Friends also provided seed money to bring artists Miriam Shapiro and Alice Aycock to Cincinnati in conjunction with the museum exhibit, "Making Their Mark: Women Artists Move into the Mainstream, 1970-85. "Hilda Smith proposed a lecture series on American Women and the Economy," featuring six lectures over two years. Smith and Mary Ellen Heintz secured funding from Procter & Gamble, Kroger, and Fifth- Third Bank.
1989/90 Mary Ellen Heintz was reelected president of Friends and the board voted to help Xavier University fund a reading by poet and novelist Ntozake Shange and to help CCM fund three women composers, including ]oAnn Falletta, conductor of San Francisco's Women's Philharmonic.
1990/91 Hilda Smith announced a $170,000 NEH grant, the first ever to a Women's Studies Program, for a summer institute, Re-Reading Intellectual History: Women's Social and Political Thought." Helen Howe established an annual UC scholarship for a woman returning to complete her education. Friends' mini-course, Feminism 101, was led by Hilda Smith. The Ohio Board of Regents approved a two-year master's program, the fourth such program in the country. Paule Marshall, novelist and Professor of English and Creative Writing at Virginia Commonwealth University, taught "Creating Women-Centered Fiction" in the fall quarter.
1992/94 Dabby Blatt served as president of Friends. Feminism 102 and 103 were held. A Library Committee was formed to stimulate gifts to the Women's Studies collection. Hilda Smith resigned as director. Associate director Romy Borooah served as acting director until Robin Sheets, professor of English and long-time Women's Studies faculty member, became the new Center director in March, 1994. Catherine Raissiguier became the Center's second associate director.
1994/95 Robin Sheets and Barbara Watts, Associate Dean of the College of Law, announced a new, joint-degree program, the first of its kind, enabling students to earn both an MA in Women's Studies and a law degree in four years. Pat Hill Collins, a sociologist specializing in Black feminist thought, received a graduate fellowship at the Center to develop graduate courses on race, class, and gender. The Bev Allinsmith Scholarship Fund was established after Bev's death in December 1995.
1996/98 Barbara Allen served two terms as president of Friends. Friends' board voted to undertake a $1.5 million endowment campaign to mark the 25th anniversary of the Center and 20 years of Friends. The goal is to establish a chair in Women's Studies, increase public interest internships at home and abroad, fund the Women in Science and Engineering program, increase library resources and fund fellowships in the Joint Degree Program with the College of Law. Dabby Blatt became campaign chair.
1998/00 Friends and the Center experience a great loss when Robin Sheets dies in August 1999. She established the joint degree with the College of Law and The Women, Gender, and Science project and expanded the curriculum internationally. Lisa Maria Hogeland, Ph.D., Associate Professor of English, becomes acting director of the Center. Andrea Schenk serves one and a half years as president of Friends. Barbara Allen and Susan Wilke take over when Andrea has to leave.
2000/02 Anne Sisson Runyan, Ph.D., a specialist in gender and international politics, becomes the first Center director with a full-time Women's Studies position. Under her leadership, the Center grows to include more full and joint appointments as well as affiliates. Mary Wells serves two terms as president of Friends.
2002/07 The Center becomes the Department of Women's Studies; offers an undergraduate major and minor with concentrations in Sexuality Studies and North American Women's Studies, and receives a major federal grant to link with women's studies and gender studies programs in Canada and Mexico to enable student and faculty exchanges. The Friends successfully completed the capital campaign resulting in the Mary Ellen Heintz Endowed Chair, as well as the Library Fund, Public Interest Fund, and MA/JD scholarship funds. Friends presidents include Jean Feinberg, Pat O'Reilly and Jane Anderson.
2008/15 Deborah Meem, PhD, a Victorianist and LGBTQ Studies specialist, becomes Head. The Department takes a new name, Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS). WGSS, Judaic, and Africana Studies are admitted to the group of A&S Taft departments as Taft's first interdisciplinary units. Friends Presidents include Pat Timm, Becki Brenner, Julia Montier-Ball, Paula Fletcher, and Barbara Myers.
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