Benjamin Seebaugh was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Women’s & Gender Studies at the Honors and Awards Ceremony held on Saturday, April 12. He spoke about his experiences growing up in West Virginia, coming to WVU and his hopes for the future. Here is a summary of those remarks.Growing up in Parkersburg, WV, Benjamin did not have a happy experience in high school. His interests were not the same as the majority of his peers and he was frustrated by his inability to make a difference in a conservative environment. He never wanted to come to WVU but a Promise Scholarship beckoned and he reluctantly made the move to Morgantown for his freshman year.
Once at WVU, Benjamin found that he was no longer a lone voice and that there were people who shared his outlook on life and listened to his opinions. He also became aware of Women’s & Gender Studies. First a meeting with Brian Jara, Senior Lecturer in Women’s & Gender Studies, persuaded him to add a minor in that discipline to his double major in Political Science and International Studies. “He pointed out that I already had some of the prerequisites for the minor and that I could easily handle it in a semester,” said Benjamin. “After that it was ‘Only a couple more classes and you’ll have a major,’ and gradually I became more and more involved.”
Benjamin has found his work in Women’s & Gender Studies to be empowering. “This is an outstanding group of scholars, leaders, and changemakers,” he said. “I have had the honor and privilege to work with the WGST faculty and to help with the creation of the LGBTQ minor.”
“As I look to graduation, I’ve begun considering how to implement WGST. I’ve learned that you should speak your mind and be involved. Change takes time and participation.”
It should be added that in addition to his work with the Center for Women’s & Gender Studies, Benjamin also served as President of the Student Government Association for the 2013-14 academic year.
What a journey this year has been! It has been my pleasure getting to know the faculty, faculty associates, staff, students, alumni and friends of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies this year. I am surrounded by enthusiastic and energized people and it is an honor to work with all of them (all of you!).
This past year has seen a steady growth in our number of majors, minors, and graduate certificate students and we anticipate seeing this trend continue as we implement additional recruitment strategies. With the hard work of faculty member, Brian Jara, we will now be able to offer a WGST minor completely online beginning this summer. We are also very close to being able to offer an LGBTQ minor to students.
We reinstated the Fireside Chats this year. I hope you have received invitations for the event that is held at Elizabeth Moore Hall. The presentations have been well received and generate lively discussions. If you haven’t already, I hope you’ll be able to attend one soon.
Also of note, we are currently anticipating two big anniversaries: 2015 will mark the 35th anniversary of the creating of the Center (thanks to Judith Stitzel!) and 2016 will mark the 125th anniversary of the first woman, Harriet E. Lyon, to graduate from WVU – and at the head of her class! We are considering various ways to celebrate these events with an academic/scholarship focus. If you have suggestions, please contact us to share your ideas.
As you have seen elsewhere in this newsletter, the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is once again moving, this time back onto campus. Beginning in mid- to late-May, we will be on the 2nd floor of Knapp Hall on an interim basis until the renovations on a building closer to the heart of the downtown campus are completed.
The end of an academic year is always bittersweet. On the one hand, we are looking forward to the slower summer months to re-energize after the end-of-semester frenzy, and on the other hand, we have to say good-bye to our current group of graduating seniors and graduating graduates. They have been great! Although we’re sad to see them leave our nest, we wish them all the very best success in all of their future endeavors!
Best regards to all of you,
Jennifer E. Orlikoff
The first order of business was to recognize undergraduate students who have completed their degree requirements and to present Women’s & Gender Studies stoles to those present.
The Center for Women’s & Gender Studies will be leaving the temporary offices it has called home for the past seventeen months. We will be moving at the end of May or beginning of June. If you are free and would be willing to give a few hours of your time to help over the move, you would be welcomed with open arms!
Please check our website for current information on the date of the move.
Our new location will be at 209 Knapp Hall.
The West Virginia University Center for Women’s and Gender Studies welcomed 71 new female faculty members to the academic community Sept. 16, during its 33rd annual potluck dinner.
West Virginia Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer, D-Monongalia, and a long-standing supporter of the Center, hosted the dinner at her home.
The dinner serves as an opportunity to introduce newer female faculty to those who’ve been with the University for some time. Judith Stitzel, the founding director of the Center was in attendance as were Dean Robert H. Jones and associate deans, Joan Gorham and Valerie Lastinger, of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, and WVU Associate Vice President Nigel Clark.
“It’s a good way for the new faculty members to network, to meet faculty members in other disciplines and to learn about some of the organizations that are available to them at WVU,” said Jennifer Orlikoff, interim director of the Center of Women’s and Gender Studies.
By Ann Oberhauser
Welcome to the first online newsletter from the WVU Center for Women’s and Gender Studies. In keeping with today’s digital revolution, we are switching to a new format that is more versatile and accessible for many of our readers throughout the country and the world. We have also developed a WGST Blog to keep you informed about upcoming events, activities, and feature stories with updates from our students, alumni, and faculty.
This has been an unusually busy and productive year at the Center. You can read about some of these events in this newsletter, but let me share a few highlights with you. The newly-named Women’s and Gender Studies Program has attracted more students to our courses and increased our majors, minors, and graduate certificate students. We have also been working to restructure and expand the curriculum with areas of emphasis for our undergraduates and a new LGBTQ minor this fall. Research in the STEM initiative is moving ahead in line with the university’s strategic plan in this field. In addition, several students and faculty in the program are working with women’s organizations at the state and national levels on a project that focuses on the status of women and girls in West Virginia.
Finally, this is my last year as director of the Center. I have enjoyed the challenges and great community that make up this program over the past four years, but am looking forward to spending more time on my research and teaching in the Geography Program. Dr. Jennifer Orlikoff from the Department of World Languages, Literature, and Linguistics will be Interim Director starting this summer. Under her leadership and with the Program’s excellent faculty, students, and staff, we can look forward to continued growth and change at the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies at WVU.
By Kasi Jackson
The Center has a leading role in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education and Scientific Literacy “Mountain of Excellence”one of five areas identified for strategic investment by WVU. The Flexible Education Research Network (FERN) will develop, identify and test best practices that will broaden participation, as well as improve teaching and learning in STEM fields, thereby developing a strong pipeline for STEM professionals and a scientifically literate public.
FERN will have a primary focus on trans-disciplinary research. Initially centered on K-16, graduate, and professional training in STEM Education, FERN will be restructured as necessary to permit growth beyond STEM as future needs arise. This past year I have organized weekly meetings for a group of faculty and staff (Jeffrey Carver, Education and Human Services; Katie Stores, Eberly College; Robin Hensel, Statler College; Harry Boone, Davis College) to plan the overall direction of FERN. This group serves at the request of the deans of the four colleges. Women’s and gender studies provides training and support for faculty who wish to do trans-disciplinary work blending multiple disciplines’ insights to solve ‘wicked problems’, which include training a broad, diverse and inclusive STEM workforce. WVU’s Center is strong in STEM education due to 1) integration into science education projects that aim to enhance all students’ performance 2) collaborations with STEM researchers who did not previously work with women’s studies, and 3) success in securing external funding to support these activities.
The next step in the FERN Initiative is to hire the four tenure-track faculty: the Eberly Professor of STEM education to serve as a senior faculty member to take a leadership role, and three assistant professors of STEM education in each of the other colleges, as well as a grants development specialist to support faculty efforts, especially those that cross traditional disciplinary and college boundaries.
For all those individuals who think geography is only about naming the continents and state capitals, meet Allyssa Sobey, a graduate student entering her second year in the Master of Arts in Geography program, concurrently pursing a Graduate Certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies.
“Geography is not just about the removed maps. It is also about the way in which people see and experience the world,” she explains. The field is a combination of social and hard sciences, taking the facts of what phenomenon has transpired and asking why—why there, why those people, why then?
Sobey demonstrated that connection recently in a collaborative project with the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, West Virginia Women’s Commission, WVU Center for Women’s Gender Studies and agencies from across the state with an interest in women’s policy issues to help produce the 2013 Status of Women and Girls in West Virginia report. The goal of the report is to provide policy makers the data and analysis they need to make important decisions regarding education, government planning and business development.
Using the theories and concepts of feminist geography, Sobey used her knowledge of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) mapping to compile and analyze data on various socio-economic aspects of women in West Virginia.
As another academic year comes to a close, we would like to congratulate and recognize the success and accomplishments of our faculty in Women’s and Gender Studies: Marilyn Francus, Tesfa G. Gebremedhin, Jesse Kalvitis, Ruth Kershner, Kathleen McNerney, Ann Oberhauser, and JoNell Strough. Details below!
On Saturday, April 13, Heather Utt was recognized as the Outstanding Senior in Women’s and Gender Studies during the annual WGST Honors and Awards Ceremony. Here is what she had to say of her time at WVU and the Center:
The way I was brought up, it was never really a question of whether or not I would go to college. I always enjoyed school, and I was lucky enough to be pretty good at it, as well. So, when senior year of high school came around, I sent in my application to West Virginia University.
Like for many others that I grew up with in this town, it was the one of the best and easiest options. And, like many of the people I’ve met since, I didn’t really know Women’s and Gender Studies was even an option, here or anywhere. Even so, I came across the intro to Women’s and Gender Studies course at my very first advising appointment at student orientation. The woman advising me said it was an easy course, not to mention that it sounded pretty interesting, so I signed up. I am so thankful I did, too.
For the first time I was getting answers to questions I hadn’t even realized I was asking. In that classroom I got my first opportunity to watch the film Iron Jawed Angels, a cinematic adaptation of the history of suffrage in our country. To this day that film holds a spot among my top favorite movie moments. More than that, it was because of that course that I decided to pursue a double major.
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