Women's studies program turns 35

03/07/08 Doris Norrito
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The University of Florida celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Department of Women’s Studies on Thursday evening at the USF Embassy Suites in Tampa.

Hosted by the University of South Florida Women’s Studies Advisory Board, the prospect of severe budget cuts was addressed in talks by faculty and students. In addition, the Women’s Studies program faces the potential of losing its status as an autonomous department.

Philosophy teacher and founding faculty member Dr. Marilyn Myerson spoke to WMNF about the impact of budget cuts and the value of the program.

About 80 who attended last night’s event represented faculty members from other departments and students who had graduated and those presently enrolled in the program.

Women’s studies originated as a non-degree program in 1972. Developed by faculty members from diverse disciplines, USF’s Women Studies program is the oldest in the state of Florida, and the second oldest in the country.

Dr. Kim Vaz, chair of the Department of Women’s studies spoke of the desire of other departments to be part of the integrated program.

Dr. John Skvoretz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences said the Women’s Studies program has become a pearl that began as an irritant, an irritant that forced the university to take a new look at issues long ignored and unexplained.

Dr. Ralph Wilcox who was appointed provost and senior vice president for Academics last January gave an update on the potential cuts, and explained what they would mean.

Faculty and students agreed that cuts and curtailment of the department’s autonomy will have a negative impact on the program and on the university as a whole. Graduates of the Department of Women’s Studies enter the workforce to provide services with an eye toward the feminist perspective on culture and society.

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