From the Director's Desk...
A major event of last fall, the approval of three new Ph.D. programs, promises to enrich research and graduate-level teaching on women and gender at the University at Albany. As the departments of history, English and French Studies plan their new programs, courses on women from a central place in the curriculum. This issue of IROW News highlights these innovative developments and the central role that Associates of the Institute for Research on Women are playing in their respective departments.
Violence against women remained a critical IROW concern this spring. Following a successful talk in October by Peggy Reeves Sanday, an expert on campus date rape, a group of IROW Associates organized a Teaching Day on Stopping Violence Against Women for March 24. Highlighting the day's program, which featured panel discussions and videos, was a lecture on "Acquaintance Rape: The Epidemic on College Campuses," by Professor Christine Gidycz of the Department of Psychology at Ohio University. Also central to the "teaching day" was an effort, approved by the Faculty Senate, to encourage instructors to devote all or part of a class to discussion of this topic. We hope this day will provide a model for campus-wide consideration of other common concerns.
As part of our goal of highlighting exemplary research on women and of celebrating women's achievements IROW initiated plans to bring Blanche Wiesen Cook, author of the highly acclaimed new biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, to campus. Her reading/discussion of the book, planned in cooperation with the New York State Writers Institute, was a highlight of the spring semester. Recognizing Professor Cook's own history of feminist activism, IROW also organized a fascinating and informative talk on remaining an activist in the 1990s. It centered on the theme, "Eleanor Roosevelt's Legacy, Hilary Clinton's Mandate." The History Department cosponsored a reception to welcome Blanche Cook to Albany.
Seeking new ways to facilitate the research activities of IROW faculty led to the latest publication of the Institute, "Electronic Access to Research on Women: A Short Guide." Coauthored by IROW Associate Judith Hudson and Kathleen Turek of the University's Computing Center, the guide presents clear and detailed instructions on access to electronic discussion groups and journals, electronic conferencing and much more. The authors also demonstrated graphically the rapidity of such communication; orders for the booklet were swamping the office even before its publication.
Responding in part of the tight fiscal climate, IROW played a leading role this year in organizing an exciting new effort, "Initiatives for Women" at the University at Albany. Working with a broad-based group of women from all areas of University life and in close conjunction with the Division of University Advancement, this major fund-raising effort promises to provide resources that will enhance the lives of all women at the University and, from IROW's particular vantage point, will contribute to the available resources to support research on women and gender.
International and multicultural interests continue to form a major focus for IROW's activities. A visit to Albany in December by Dr. Ada Okwuosa of the Nigerian Centre for Democratic Studies helped to shape the direction of our joint project with the Center for Women in Government, "New Voices: International Women in Public Policy." Dr. Okwuosa's presentation on "Increasing Women's Influence in Nigerian Politics" sparked a lively discussion. IROW also cosponsored a talk on "Women's Movements in Taiwan: Current Problems" by organizer Winnie Peng and contributed to the African Women in Film Festival held in early March. Work continues for a conference on "Rethinking Women in the Global Economy," planned for spring 1994.
Other internationally oriented projects furthered our ties in Africa and Central America. A linkage agreement with the University of Legon in Ghana is in the final stages of discussion. This linkage will provide opportunities for cooperation between women's studies researchers at the two universities. In an expression of the continuing ties between IROW and the University of Costa Rica, five IROW Associates attended the Fifth Interdisciplinary Congress on Women held there in February. (See article on p. 2)
As a final event of the year, the Book House, in cooperation with IROW and the Women's Studies Department, is hosting a spring reception to honor Capital District authors on women and gender. The reception will foster contacts among the different centers of women's research in the area and will highlight the importance of our work to wider community.
Finally, special thanks to Kathy Trent for compiling the news of Institute members, to Larry Wittner for his generous assistance with Blanche Cook's visit, to Judith Fetterley and Jan Hagan, cochairs of the Teaching Day committee, and to the IROW Executive Board members for their thoughtful contributions to running the Institute. They include Luz Acevedo de Alba, Judith Baskin, Chris Bose, Deborah Curry, Jan Hagen, Sucheta Mazumdar (Associate Director) and Bonnie Spanier (ex-officio).