Remarks by Sandra Powell:
This year Weber State University celebrates 20 years of Women’s Studies as an academic program. We would like to honor those who prepared the way or contributed to the program. We want to celebrate the dreams and accomplishments of Women’s Studies during its first twenty years, and we want to express our hopes for Women’s Studies in the years to come.
Prior to 1990 there were efforts to establish Women’s Studies at WSU. Many people taught classes that focused on women, but it took a critical mass of new faculty to bring the new scholarship on women and gender in to focus. Using the examples of programs which had been developed at the University of Utah and Utah State, three faculty members, Kathryn MacKay, Nancy Haanstad, and Barbara West, joined forces with students, former students and community members, including Pam Harrison, Eric Mitchell, and Justina Bernstein, to initiate a new campus-wide discussion about Women’s Studies. Several administrators were supportive: Dean Sherwin Howard, Provost Bob Smith, and President Paul Thompson.
|These are some of the individuals
who were involved with the early 1980's proposal to establish a Women's
Studies program at Weber State University. Though it did not achieve
that goal, it did pave the way for future efforts which would be
successful ten years later.
By intention, the process to establish the program was very public, and a number of people participated in the ad hoc committee and other organizational activities. Eventually the proposal for a minor in Women’s Studies was taken before the faculty senate and the Board of Regents, where it was approved. The new program was housed in the College of Social and Behavioral Science, under Dean Richard Sadler’s care.
From the outset the program was supported by a strong community of women and men, who taught the classes (often team teaching them), served as members of the advisory committee, organized events, and encouraged students to take classes. As soon as she heard about the program’s existence, Jane Marquart established the Phoenix Scholarship for Women’s Studies students. Other scholarship programs have been funded in the years that followed.
These individuals were
involved in the successful proposal in 1990 that established the Women's
Studies Minor Program at WSU.
Six women have served as coordinators of the program. Kathryn MacKay, from History, served during the first three formative years. Gloria Wurst, a zoology professor, was the second coordinator, and she began the newsletter. By the time Diane Krantz, English, was coordinator, courses were being taught in Men’s Studies and GBLT Studies. Sandra Powell, Business Administration, was the fourth coordinator. During her term we celebrated the tenth anniversary of Women’s Studies. María Parrilla de Kokal was the next coordinator, and she is the only one to return to serve another three year term. She is the current head of the program, and her field is psychology. Between María’s two terms, Becky Johns, Communications, served as coordinator of the program.
The Program Coordinator serves a
three year term and is chosen by the Executive Council. These are the
women who have served as coordinator.
Women’s Studies, often in partnership with its student group or other entities on campus, has sponsored a number of activities. Some include Take Back the Night and other events to protest violence against women and promote women’s health. We have had a number of Love Your Body Day activities and various film series focusing on international issues, vocational issues, health issues, and so on. We have sponsored and co-sponsored speakers and conferences. Through it all the program remains dedicated to challenging the status quo, to providing venues for multiple voices to be heard, and especially to improving the situation of women from the local to the international level.
Over these twenty years approximately 123 sections of core classes and 191 sections of cross listed classes have been taught, 63 people have taught these classes, and about 3300 students have attended them. Weber State and the surrounding community need Women’s Studies to remain an active voice, protesting injustice and unfairness, raising awareness of issues and causes, and promoting critical thinking, especially about unpopular topics. Happy 20th birthday, Women’s Studies. May you celebrate many more.