Our Program History


Chronology of Key Events


1972, Women’s Studies Planning Committee of students, faculty and staff develop a plan for a Women’s Studies Program

1977, Women's Studies was first proposed in a Faculty Bulletin article

1981, Women’s Studies began operation through College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

2001, Academic Committee of the Presidential Commission on Sexual Orientation joined by other faculty develop a plan for an LGBT Studies Program

2002, LGBT Studies Program is proposed to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the university Provost

2003, LGBT Studies began operation through the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

First Women’s Studies Courses Offered

1981, WOMS 230: Women in Contemporary America, Fall Semester

1982, WOMS 235: Women Across Cultures and Centuries, Spring Semester

Women’s Studies Minor Approved

1980, Board of Regents approved Women’s Studies minor program request

1980, Women’s Studies minor implemented, Fall

First Women’s Studies 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 Women’s Studies 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

Women’s Rights Alliance Founded

1989, The Student Association recognized the Women’s Alliance (now Women’s Rights Alliance) as an official student organization

First Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies Completed

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

Pilot Course on LGBT Studies

1994, A pilot course (a survey of LGBT studies across a variety of disciplines) was successfully offered three times between 1994-1997, twice through the Honors Program and once through the Women’s Studies Program.

First Conference for Young Women

First Conference for Young Women, October, 1996

LGBT Undergraduate and Graduate Certificates Approved

2003, Board of Regents approved LGBT certificates program request

First LGBT Studies Certificate Courses Offered

2004, ILAS 350/550: LGBT Studies, Spring Semester

Mother's Memorial Scholarship

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.

LGBT Third Thursday Talks

2004, The LGBT Third Thursday Talk series was inaugurated, Fall 2004. Robert Ridinger (University Libraries) presented the first talk, “Speaking for Our Lives: Historic Speeches and Rhetoric for Gay and Lesbian Rights (1892-2000).”

First Undergraduate Certificate in LGBT Studies Completed

2005, May, Jay Wartenberg and Jennifer M. Hubbard

First Graduate Certificate in LGBT Studies Completed

2006, May, Jeff D. Gillette and Cortney Kintz

Austin Sawicki Memorial Scholarship

April 2009, the first Austin Sawicki Memorial Scholarship was awarded. We were saddened when our beloved graduate student and former teaching assistant, Austin Sawicki, died on May 29, 2008. Shortly after his passing, we worked with the departments of Philosophy and Anthropology, as well as NIU Foundation to create a memorial scholarship for Austin Sawicki.

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 administration and support staff).

Minor in LGBT Studies Approved

2014, Board of Trustees approved Undergraduate Minor

2014, Fall, Implemented

Undergraduate Certificate in Women’s & Gender Studies Approved

2014, Board of Trustees approved Undergraduate Certificate.

2014, Fall, Implemented

Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality

2015, The Illinois Board of Higher Education approved the formation of the Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies, which includes the LGBT Studies Program and the Women’s & Gender Studies Program.

Changes in Administration

1979 - 81, Faculty Coordinating Committee for Women’s Studies

1981 - 83, Barbara Bate, Half-time Women’s Studies Coordinator, Served the program on release time from department faculty position

1983 - 86, Marilyn Skinner, Half-time Women’s Studies Coordinator

1986 - 95, Lois Self, Half-time Women’s Studies Coordinator (WSAC Minutes dated September 17, 1986: title changed to Half-time Director)

1995 - 2012, Amy Levin, Full-time Women’s Studies Director (1995: Position changed to full-time faculty administration)

2003-2004, Diana Swanson and Bradley Peters, LGBT Studies Co-Coordinators

2005-2006, Diana Swanson, LGBT Studies Coordinator

2007-2008, Diana Swanson and Sally Conklin, LGBT Studies Co-Coordinators

2009-2010, Diana Swanson, LGBT Studies Coordinator (one course release granted by Provost)

2010, Kristen Myers and Francesca Giordano, LGBT Studies Co-Coordinator

2011-2012, Kristen Myers, LGBT Studies Coordinator

2012-2014, Robert Brookey, LGBT Studies Coordinator

2012-2014, Kristen Myers, Full-time Women’s Studies Director, and LGBT Studies Coordinator

2014-Present, Kristen Myers, Full-time Center for the Study of Women, Gender & Sexuality 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

2014, Rebekah L. Kohli (Program Coordinator position changed to full-time, 12 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)

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?"

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

2015 Women, Gender, Sexuality & Incarceration Issues

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.

Contact Us

Center for the Study of Women, Gender and Sexuality
Reavis Hall, Room 103
DeKalb, IL 60115

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National Women's Studies Association