The Women’s Studies Program was authorized in 1977. The Women’s Studies Director until her retirement in 1986 was Irene Thompson, Associate Professor, Department of English. An undergraduate certificate in Women’s Studies was instituted. Occasional speakers were invited (such as Gloria Steinem and Flo Kennedy). The core course (WST 3010), Interdisciplinary Perspectives of Women, was approved.
From 1985 to 1989, the director was Constance Shehan, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology. More courses counting for Women’s Studies were designated in departments and additional faculty members teaching from a gender perspective became affiliate faculty members to the Women’s Studies Program. Occasional speakers were invited. The Interdisciplinary B.A. in Women’s Studies was initiated.
From 1989 to 1991, the director was Linda Wolfe, Associate Professor on half-time release from the Department of Anthropology. She started the Women’s Studies newsletter, fundraising, and the colloquium series. A major symposium took place in 1990. The Interdisciplinary B.A. in Women’s Studies was approved in 1990.
From 1991 to 1995, Helga Kraft, Associate Professor, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages was the director. The Women’s Studies office houses the Women’s Studies art gallery which features semi-annual exhibitions in a series titled “Women Artists at UF.” A major conference or symposium per year is also sponsored. The Women’s Studies minor passed in 1992. Starting in Fall 1993, Women’s Studies received a floating line for its director. In 1993, Women’s Studies added eight courses (with a WST prefix), appointed a visiting professor and adjunct faculty as well as graduate assistants. The Women’s Studies Graduate Certificate Program was approved in Summer 1993.
In 1994, the Women’s Studies Program became a Type II Center and was renamed the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research. The Center now enjoys a permanent home in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 1995, Sue Rosser, Professor, Department of Anthropology with affiliate appointments in Zoology and the College of Medicine, was recruited as director. Helga Kraft became the first jointly-appointed faculty member between Women’s Studies and the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. In May 1995, the Ph.D. concentration in Women’s Studies was approved; the Center also took over administering the Graduate Certificate for Gender, Environment, and Agriculture Program (GEAP). Vasudha Narayanan, Professor, Department of Religion, served as Acting Director during Fall 1995 to permit Sue Rosser to finish her term at the National Science Foundation as Senior Program Officer for Women’s Programs.
In 1996-97, Cynthia Burack joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Political Science and Women’s Studies. In 1997-98, Tace Hedrick joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in English and Women’s Studies. In 1998-99, Kendal Broad joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Sociology and Women’s Studies. During 1998-99, the CWSGR received its first substantial indirect costs from grants, a USAID Grant for $2.4 million (P.I., Sandra Russo) and an NSF grant of $65,000 (P Sue Rosser) to study Professional Opportunities for Women in Research and Education (POWRE).
In 1999, Vasudha Narayanan, Professor, Department of Religion, was chosen as interim director for Summer 1999 to Summer of 2000. In 1999, Milagros Peña joined the faculty in Women’s Studies and Sociology.
In Fall, 2000, Angel Kwolek-Folland, Professor, Department of History, was recruited as director. In 2001, Assistant Professor Stacey Langwick joined the Center faculty with a joint appointment in Anthropology, and in 2002 the program celebrated its 25th anniversary with a major symposium focusing on research on women and gender at the University of Florida. Additionally, the Master of Arts and the Master of Women’s Studies were approved in 2001 with the Center’s first graduate students entering in the Fall 2002 semester.
In Spring 2003, Ntozake Shangé, poet and playwright, joined the faculty as a Visiting Professor in Women’s Studies to teach a course called “Global Feminisms.” Professor Shangé, inventor of the choreopoem, has written numerous plays and poems including the celebrated for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf- a choreopoem (1975).
In Fall 2003, the Center admitted its first Bachelor of Arts students. The Center’s first M.A. student graduated in the Spring of 2004.
In Fall 2004, Patricia (Trysh) Travis joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in Women’s Studies. Also in this semester, Angel Kwolek-Folland was named Outstanding Faculty Member by the Florida Blue Key. In Spring 2005, Florence Babb joined the Women’s Studies faculty as the Vada Allen Yeomans’ Professor of Women’s Studies. Additionally in the Spring, Milagros Peña was named Director of the Center. In Fall 2005, Ana S.Q. Liberato joined the Center faculty as a visiting Assistant Professor.
During the 2005-2006 school year, the Center began a Sexualities Conversations series, co-sponsored with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Affairs in the Dean of Students Office. In the Fall semester, the first talk featured Professor Florence Babb, and was titled “Neither in the Closet nor on the Balcony: Private Lives and Public Activism in Nicaragua.” In the Spring semester, the second talk featured Assistant Professor of Political Science Katrina Schwarz. The title of her talk was “Homophobia, ‘Christian Values’ and the Politics of Extremism in Latvia.” The series ended by featuring the work of graduate students, including Dana Berkowitz, Maura Ryan, William Jeffries IV, Christine Regan, Nishant Shahani, and Amanda Culp.
The Spring 2006 schedule for the Gender Conversations open forum for research discussion included presentations from Professors Cory L. Armstrong of Journalism, Avraham Balaban of African and Asian Languages and Literatures, and M. J. Hardman of Linguistics. Also in Spring, a memorial was held honoring the life and work of Dr. Irene Thompson, one of the founders of the Women’s Studies program and a long-time faculty member.
On September 29, 2006, a dedication ceremony was held for the first UF academic building named after a woman, Kathryn Chicone Ustler Hall. Built in 1919, the former women’s gym was renovated by a generous gift from Kathryn Chicone Ustler, and became the home for the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research in the Fall 2006.
During this semester, Anita Anantharam joined the Center’s faculty as an Assistant Professor with expertise on South Asian studies and transnational feminism. The Gender Conversations series for this semester featured research discussions by Professors Avraham Balaban of African and Asian Languages and Literatures and Tace Hedrick of CWSGR and English. The series continued during the Fall 2007 semester with further discussions by Professor Robert Kawashima of Religion and Jewish Studies, Professor Whitney Sanford of Religion, Professor Sara Crawley of USF’s Women’s Studies Program and Shelbi Day, Staff Attorney for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and concluded with a panel of graduate students Amy Long, Sanam Dolatshahi, and Mallory Syzmanski.
In Fall 2007, the engraved Yardley Garden Wall was unveiled at the annual Fall program. Bordering the Yardley Garden in front of Ustler Hall, the wall features quotes from Alice Walker, as well as the names of generous benefactors and contributors to the Center. CWSGR Director Milagros Pena was also awarded a University of Florida Research Professorship this semester.
In Spring 2008, the Center hosted a lecture by award winning author and anthropologist Ruth Behar titled, Searching for Jewish Cuba: Perils and Pleasures of Diasporic Ethnography. During the 2007-2008 academic year, Anita Anantharam worked with affiliated faculty Vasudha Narayanan and Whitney Sanford to present a symposium and lecture series addressing the critical problem of gender, water, and equity in India. The Gender Conversation series featured research discussions by Professors Faye Harrison, Director of African American Studies, Carmen Diana Deere, Director of Latin American Studies, Sandra Russo, Director of Development Program and the Interdisciplinary Water Working Group, and LaMonda Horton-Stallings of English. The series concluded for the semester with a graduate panel featuring Kathryn Turner, Desirae Krell, Tanya Faublas, Tatiana Falcon, Michelle Phillips, and Lola Bovell.
The Center held its first Women‘s Studies Career Panel during Spring 2009 featuring four alumnae—Victoria Adams, Diana Gibson, Havre De Hill, and Megan Seery— addressing the current Women‘s Studies community at the University of Florida. Assistant Professor Trysh Travis organized the roundtable that featured tips for job seekers, cautionary tales from the workplace, and networking opportunities.
In Fall 2009, Dr. Judith W. Page, Professor of English and Waldo W. Neikirk Term Professor in CLAS was appointed as the Interim Director of the Center. Professor Anita Anatharam was nominated for International Educator of the Year 2009. The Gender Conversations series featured discussions by Professors Jennifer Rea of Classics, Laura Sjoberg of Political Science, doctoral student Caleb Simmons of Religion, and a panel of graduate students including Sarah Austin, Meredith Kite, and Erin Tobin. The Spring 2010 series included research discussions by Professors Nina Caputo of History, Jodi Schorb of English, doctoral student Sean O’Neil of Religion, and a panel featuring graduate students Melissa Houle, Catherine Jean, Diana McCarley, Whitney Shadowens, Sarah Steele, and Erin Williams.
The Center hosted a Spring Gala in 2010 to celebrate the installation of ten beautiful paintings by Florida artist Eleanor Blair in Ustler Hall, generously donated to us by Kathryn Chicone Ustler.
The panel discussion, “Activists Among Us: the Gainesville Women’s Movement Across Generations,” was held at the Matheson Museum during Spring semester. Sponsored by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and the Center, the panel brought together local activists from the 1950s through the present to discuss the ongoing struggle for social justice, gender equality, and human rights. This event also served as a springboard for the collection and preservation of historical materials on the history of women’s activism in Gainesville.
In Fall 2010, the Center sponsored a lecture by Winifred Breines, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Northeastern University, on “The Trouble between Us: An Uneasy History of White and Black Women in the Women’s Liberation Movement.” The Center also presented “Feminist Scholarship Now,” an interdisciplinary panel discussion on the influence of feminist thought on the various disciplines. Moderated by Professor Stephanie Smith of English, the panel included Professors H. Jane Brockmann of Biology, Pamela Gilbert of English, Danaya Wright of Levin College of Law, Faye Harrison of Anthropology and the Center for African American Studies, and Louise Newman of History.
Stephanie Evans was named a Colonel Allen R. and Margaret G. Crow Term Professor for the 2010-2011 academic year and she was appointed Director of African American Studies during Fall 2010. Associate Provost for Academic Affairs and former director Angel Kwolek- Folland secured an Advance award from the National Science Foundation, Partnerships for Adaptation, Implementation, and Dissemination (PAID) for Collaborative Research. Dr. Kwolek-Folland served as P.I. as part of a consortium of Florida universities. The Fall 2010 reception featured a dedication of Meika Alberici’s wood installation, “Four Corners,” a gift from Professor Berta Hernandez-Truyol, that is displayed in the Center’s office just outside the Atrium.
In Spring 2011, the Center hosted the first of a series of annual conferences featuring the legacies of major feminist thinkers and texts of the twentieth century. The inaugural conference, “Simone de Beauvoir: Legacies,” featured a keynote address by Duke University Professor Toril Moi. Dr. Judith W. Page, who had served in an interim capacity, was named Director of the Center in Spring 2011.
Also during the Spring semester, Kendal Broad was awarded a CLAS 2010-2011 Teaching Award, and Trysh Travis received a CLAS Advisor Award for her work as the Undergraduate Coordinator in Women’s Studies. Affiliates Jodi Schorb and Benjamin Wise also received teaching awards and former director Angel Kwolek-Folland was named Woman of Distinction by UF’s Association of Academic Women. Anita Anantharam received a national award for her work as an advisor for the Global Living and Learning Community, and the Center’s office manager Donna Tuckey was honored with a Superior Accomplishment Award for staff.
In Fall 2011, the Center co-sponsored a domestic violence symposium, which featured a discussion by University of Georgia professor Molly Hurley Moran titled, “Domestic Violence: A Sister’s Story,” which focused on her memoir Finding Susan. This discussion was held in conjunction with the film screening at the Levin College of Law of Peter Cohn’s “Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America.”
In Spring 2012, the Center continued its annual conference series with “Mary Wollstonecraft: Legacies,” which commemorated the 220th anniversary of the publication of Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. In 2012, the Center also began a fundraising campaign to establish its first endowed lecture series in honor of Dr. Edna Louise Saffy and her contributions to women’s rights at UF and beyond.
The Center for Women‘s Studies and Gender Research and the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations at the UF Levin College of Law hosted a panel discussion titled “Does The HelpHelp?” Organized in response to the novel and recent film, this panel addressed the representation of African American domestic workers and the Civil Rights struggle of the 1960s.
Working with the English Department and “The Big Read” sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Center also held a panel discussion entitled “The World of Ursula K. Le Guin.” The panel discussed Le Guin‘s Earthsea Trilogy and her legacy, particularly her influence on other fantasy and science fiction writing. Participants also placed Le Guin in the tradition of feminist science fiction.
During Spring 2012, Trysh Travis was named a Waldo W. Neikirk Term Professor for 2012-13, affiliates Elizabeth Dale of History, Stephanie Smith of English, and Whitney Sanford of Religion were named Term Professors, and affiliate Rachel Rebouché was one of ten assistant professors campus-wide to receive a 2012 UF Excellence Award for Assistant Professors.
In Fall 2012, the Center co-hosted a symposium titled “The Legacy of Zora Neale Hurston: Celebrating the 75th Anniversary of Their Eyes Were Watching God” with UF’s George A. Smathers Libraries. This symposium featured an exhibit of the Hurston materials at the library, a viewing of the documentary film on Hurston Jump at the Sun, and a panel discussion of UF faculty.
In September, the Center and the League of Women Voters of Alachua County, with support from the Levin College of Law, presented a panel discussion on “Women, Work, and Family in the 2012 Presidential Campaign.” This community event examined the ways that the presidential candidates—and the media that relentlessly covers them—have framed questions of women‘s sexuality, morality, and power during the 2012 election year.
Fall 2012 also marked the 35th anniversary of the initiation of the Women’s Studies program at UF, which over the years has become the Center for Women’s Studies and Gender Research . Center Director Judith Page was named UF Outstanding Faculty Member by the Florida Blue Key during the Homecoming Education Celebration.
The Center’s new minor, Health Disparities in Society, was approved in the Fall of 2012. Students began registering for the minor in January of 2013.
In Spring 2013, the Center continued its annual conference series with “Disciples of Flora: Gardens in History and Culture,” an interdisciplinary conference (co-sponsored by the Department of classics and Languages, Literatures, and Cultures) that explored the place and vitality of gardens as cultural objects and repositories of meaning. Events included panels, a book exhibit, a garden tour of the UF campus, a guided tour of the Asian gardens at the Harn Museum, and a keynote address by Professor Elizabeth Helsinger of the University of Chicago entitled “Inviting the Indoors Out: Gardens and Other Arts.”
The Center also co-hosted (with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program) a symposium titled “The Feminine Mystique at Fifty: 1963-2013.” This symposium featured a roundtable discussion of Stephanie Coontz’s book, A Strange Stirring: The Feminine Mystique and American Women at the Dawn of the 1960s. It concluded with a public lecture by Stephanie Coontz entitled “Madmen, Working ‘Girls,’and Desperate Housewives: Women, Men and Marriage in 1963 and 2013,” followed by a book signing and reception.
During Spring, Professors Anita Anantharam and Tace Hedrick were honored with CLAS Teaching Awards for 2012-13. Director Judith Page was named a Distinguished Teaching Scholar by the UF Academy of Distinguished Teaching Scholars.
In the Fall, the Center welcomed Dr. Laura K. Guyer as a senior lecturer, charged with teaching our health disparities courses and advising students in this area. The Center also welcomed long-time affiliate and former Director Constance Shehan as a core faculty member.
In the Fall of 2013, the Center collaborated with the Levin College of Law on a symposium entitled, “Reproductive Rights in the United States: 1973-2013.” Professor Kimbery Mutcherson gave the keynote address and Professors Angel-Kwolek-Folland, Louise Newman, Constance Shehan, and Danaya-Wright served on a panel with Robin Lewy of the Rural Women’s Health Project. Participants also viewed the documentary film Twelfth and Delaware, followed by a discussion moderated by Professor Churchill Roberts. The symposium concluded with an art exhibit by UF students curated by Professor Craig Smith.
In the Spring 2014, the Center hosted a conference celebrating forty years of feminist anthropology that began in 1974 with the publication of Michelle Rosaldo and Louise Lamphere’s classic anthology Woman, Culture, and Society. The title of the conference was “Feminist Publics, Current Engagements: Gender/Culture/Society 40 Years Later” and included keynote speaker, Louise Lamphere, along with other distinguished speakers including Fran Mascia-Lees, Carolyn Martin Shaw, and Martin Manalansan. The Center also co-sponsored events with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, LGBT Affairs, the Department of English, and the African American Studies program. At that year’s Lavender Graduation, which celebrates the graduation and the achievements of prominent LGBTQ+ students at the University of Florida, Dr. Kendal Broad-Wright was awarded the LGBT Community Impact Award in recognition of her contributions to the LGBT community at the University of Florida and in the greater Gainesville Area.
In Fall 2014, Dr. Bonnie Moradi, Professor of Psychology and long-time affiliate faculty member, became the director of the Center. That Fall, Dr. Trysh Travis worked with the Center for the Study of Race & Race Relations, the Center for Latin American Studies and their Crime, Law and Governance in the Americas Working Group, and the CLAS departments of Anthropology, History, Political Science, and Spanish & Portuguese to co-sponsor a talk by Elaine Carey, Associate Professor of Latin American History and Chair of the History Department at St. John’s University in Queens. The title of the talk was “Doing Drugs in the Archives: Fictions, Facts, and Histories of Women Traffickers.” During this academic year, Donna Tuckey was the recipient of three noteworthy awards, the Outstanding Staff Service on behalf of Graduate and Professional Students Award from the Graduate Student Council, the LGBT Affairs Committee’s LGBT Community Impact Outstanding Staff Award, and the College’s Superior Accomplishment Award.
In Fall 2015, Dr. Alyssa Zucker joined the faculty as the Vada Yeomans Chair in Women’s Studies. Under the direction of Dr. Zucker, the Center hosted its first Feminist Movie Night with the screening and discussion of Pink Ribbons, Inc. by award-winning filmmaker Léa Pool. That year, the Center also sponsored or co-sponsored over 30 campus and community programs, which brought numerous leading scholars to UF, including lectures by Northeastern University Professor and Editor of Signs, Dr. Suzanna Walters, on social movements for LGBT equality; UW Madison Visiting Assistant Professor Dr. Stephanie Budge on the construction of gender identity and trans mental health; and UF Alumna, Associate Professor of Sociology, and founding Director of the Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnic Relations at the University of North Florida, Dr. JeffriAnne Wilder, on the intersections of racism and sexism in shaping colorism and the experiences of Black women. The Center was also proud to co-sponsor “Pushing Boundaries: Extending Reach and Amplifying Voice,” a lecture by Dr. Patricia Hill Collins organized by the Florida Society of the Social Sciences. In Spring 2016, Dr. Laura Guyer was awarded the UF LGBT Affairs Community Impact Award for Outstanding Faculty Member in recognition of her contributions to the LGBT community at the University of Florida and in the greater Gainesville Area.
The 2016 – 2017 academic year was full of exciting milestones for the center. During the Summer of 2016, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies became the Center for Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies Research, which made public and explicit the Center’s longstanding commitment to LGBTQ+ studies and advocacy. In the Fall of 2016, the Center welcomed Assistant Professor Dr. Manoucheka Celeste in a shared position with the African American Studies Program and Associate Professor Dr. Tanya Saunders in a shared position with the Center for Latin American Studies. Dr. Anita Anantharam received the UF Online Excellence in Teaching Award and Dr. Trysh Travis was named Waldo W. Neikirk Term Professor.
The Center’s programs for the year included a gathering of Center faculty, affiliate faculty, and graduate students to honor the memory of and discuss the impact of Michelle Cliff, novelist, poet, and pioneering theorist of African diasporic lesbian feminist theory who had passed away that summer. The Center also co-sponsored a panel discussion on “Women, Race, and the U.S. Presidency” with the Center for the Study of Race and Race Relations, hosted a lecture by Jennifer Podkul J.D. entitled “Forced From Home: Women and Children Seeking Refuge in the U.S.,” a talk by Dr. Paul Grzanka, “The ‘Born This Way’ Wars and the Future of Sexual Orientation,” a talk by Gina Athena Ulysse titled “Beyond Loving Haiti…Our Praxis Matter Now More Than Ever,” and a panel titled “Black Social Movements and Student Activism in Contemporary Brazil,” with guests Annie Gonzaga Lorde, Jessica “Jesz” Ipolito, & Ana Luiza Mahin hosted by Dr. Tanya Saunders.
The Center kicked off 2017 with a distinctive collaboration with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, organizing an experiential learning project for UF students to conduct research at the Presidential Inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington D.C. Students gathered over 160 interviews, documentary footage, and other data. They presented this work to the campus and community in a panel presentation in Ustler Hall on February 22, 2017. Following this project, UF was selected to become the repository of the National Women’s March Archives. Also in February, Dr. Alyssa Zucker, as Yeomans Chair of Women’s Studies, brought Dr. Joan Ostrove, Professor of Psychology at Macalaster College, for a talk entitled “Identifying Allies: Attitudes and Actions in Cross-Identity Relationships.”
In March, 2017, the Center marked its 40th Anniversary with a day-long celebration that included a panel on the history of Gender, Sexualities, and Women’s Studies at UF with the Center’s esteemed colleagues and pioneers Dr. Mildred Hill-Lubin, Dr. Jaquie Resnick, Dr. Connie Shehan, Dr. Angel Kwolek-Folland, Dr. Phyllis Meek, and Dr. Sandra Russo. Dr. Judith W. Page, former Director of the Center, moderated the panel. The celebration continued with a panel of Center alums, including Myeshia Bennett, Courtney Compton, Francesse Lucius, Layla Moughari, and Sebastian X. Muñoz-Medina, who discussed their education at UF and in women’s studies, and shared their personal and professional journeys after graduation. The alum panel was followed by an inspiring keynote address by Dean Laura A. Rosenbury, Levin College of Law, UF on the power of women’s studies training for leadership and organizational transformation. The successful and inspirational event was capped off with a reception. It brought together the Center’s past, present, and future in observance of its passionate and devoted colleagues and the impact it has had on its students and on UF as a whole. Also in 2017, Dr. Trysh Travis was awarded the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship.