History of the Women's Studies Program (WOMS)

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Chronology of Key Events in the History of the
Women's Studies Program at Northern Illinois University

Click here to view early images from the history of Women's Studies at NIU.


1976, Planning Committee of students, faculty and staff
1977, Women's Studies was first proposed in a Faculty Bulletin article
1981, began operation through College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

First Courses Offered:

1981, WOMS 230: Women in Contemporary America, Fall Semester
1982, WOMS 235: Women Across Cultures and Centuries, Spring Semester

Minor Approved:

1980, Board of Regents approved minor program request
1980, Implemented, Fall

First Minor Completed:

1982, May, Patricia Fertig graduated w/major in In. & T Graphic Arts
16 Minors were signed up by Spring 1982

First Self-Designed Major Completed:

Ronda K. Rueff, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, 1986

Graduate Certificate in Women's Studies Approved:

1989, Board of Regents approved Graduate Studies Minor

First Graduate Certificate Completed:

1992, May, Madelyn Anderson, Lori Halverson-Wente, and Kathryn Ranieri

Mother's Memorial Scholarhip:

May 2004, the Women's Studies Program endowed its first scholarship, the Mother's Memorial Scholarship Fund. Scholarships were first made available in Spring 2005.

Graduate Certificate in Law & Women's Studies Approved:

2012, College of Law and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences approved Law & Women's Studies graduate certificate.

Women's Studies & LGBT Studies Programs Merged

2013, LGBT Studies officially merged with Women's Studies (they remain distinct programs with separate offerings, but they are housed in the same office under the same adminstration and support staff).

Undergraduate Certificate Approved:

2014, Board of Trustees approved Undergraduate Certificate.
2014, Fall, Implemented

Women's History Week Theme:

In response to Marilyn Skinner's request letter dated January 15, 1985, Greg Sparrow, Mayor of DeKalb, proclaimed March 3 - 9, 1985 as Women's History Week in DeKalb.
1985 "1975-85: The U.N. Decade for Women: Where Do We Go From Here?"

Women's History Month Themes:

1986 Women in the Arts
1987 U.S. Congress designated March as Women's History Month
1987 Women and Work
1988 Women in the Sciences
1989 The Lives of Rural Women
1990 Women, the Law, and Public Policy
1991 Women as Innovators, Educators, and Inventors
1992 Her Stories: Public Images; Private Realities
1993 Women and Spirituality
1994 Creating Women: Art, Action, and Social Commentary
1995 Women Among Us: Celebrating Our Past, Shaping Our Future
1996 Women's Work is Never Done
1997 Body and Soul
1998 Women at Play
1999 Generations: Not Just Girls Anymore
2000 Women's Acts: Acting Up, Acting Out, Activism
2001 NIU Women's Studies Program: Twenty Years of Warming the Climate for Women
2002 Women Around the World
2003 Women and Volunteerism: Every Woman Can Do Something for the Cause
2004 Women's Movements
2005 Body Waves
2006 25 Years of Women's Studies at NIU: Re-Imagining Sisterhood
2007 Re-Defining Motherhood 
2008 Enterprising Women
2009 Women, the Environment, and Sustainability
2010 Women's Voices/Women's Visions
2011 Women's Migration & Immigration
2012 Women, Wealth & Economic Justice
2013 Looking Back on the Feminine Mystique
2014 Celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Act

First Conference for Young Women

First Conference for Young Women, October, 1996

Changes in Administration

1979 - 81, Faculty Coordinating Committee
1981 - 83, Barbara Bate, Half-time Coordinator, Served the program on release time from department faculty position
1983 - 86, Marilyn Skinner, Half-time Coordinator
1986 - 95, Lois Self, Half-time Coordinator (WSAC Minutes dated September 17, 1986: title changed to Half-time Director)
1995 - 2012, Amy Levin, Full-time Director (1995: Position changed to full-time faculty administration)
2012-Present, Kristen Myers, Full-time Director

Hiring of Joint Appointment Faculty

Diana Swanson, Women's Studies & English Department, (1991-Present)
Lynn Kamenitsa, Women's Studies & Political Science, (1993-2008)
Heather Hardy, Women's Studies & English Department (1993-97)
Amanda Littauer, Women's Studies & History (2009-Present)
Courtney Gallaher, Women's Studies & Geography (2012-Present)

Creation of Program Coordinator Position

1996, Margaret M. Cook
2006, Rebekah L. Kohli (Program Coordinator position changed to full-time, 10 month position)

Changes in Offices

Zulauf Hall (1980 - 81)
Wirtz House, 305 Normal Road (1981 - 89)
Reavis Hall, Rooms 107 & 108 (108 Reavis was TA's office) (1989 - 95)
Reavis Hall, Room 103 (1995 - Present)

For more information on the History of the Women's Studies Program, see Collection UA 30, Boxes #4 and #5 in Regional History Center, Swen Parson Hall 155, or call 753-1779.