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Women's Studies Department (1970-) | Special Collections & University Archives

Name: Women's Studies Department (1970-)
Variant Name: Women's Studies Program

Historical Note:

In 1969, students from SDSU's Women's Liberation Group, in cooperation with faculty and community women, formed an Ad Hoc Committee for Women's Studies.  The committee collected signatures from over 600 students in support of establishing a Women's Studies Program at SDSU.  In response, the university started an informal Women's Studies Program for the Spring 1970 semester.  By the start of the Fall 1970 semester, SDSU had formally established a department of Women's Studies which offered 11 courses. It was the first such department in the United States.

Early instructors included students, faculty from several existing departments, and one full-time Women's Studies lecturer.  The Ad Hoc committee established a nineteen member Women's Studies board, which included ten students, three staff members, and six faculty members, to oversee the program.  In spring of 1974, the Faculty Advisory Committee undertook a nationwide faculty recruitment campaign to develop women's studies as a strong academic department. The faculty developed an eighteen-unit minor, which was approved by the University Senate in May 1975.

In 1983, the department first offered an undergraduate major in Women's Studies, in the College of Arts and Letters.  Faculty at that time consisted of one full professor, four associate professors, one assistant professor and one lecturer.  Also during the 1980s three Women's Studies faculty attained tenure, rendering the Faculty Advisory Committee unnecessary.  The department weathered budget crises in the 1990s and 2000s while continuing to grow and develop both in terms of size and reputation.  In 1996 the department first offered a Master's program in Women's Studies.  In 2000, it began a program offering admission into a 12-unit Certificate Program in Women's Studies through the College of Extended Studies.

SDSU's Women's Studies Department has developed a national and international reputation for excellence in its curriculum and faculty.  It maintains a strong commitment to excellence in teaching and research, and is taking a leadership role in university affairs.  In 2010 the department celebrated its 40th anniversary.

Note Author: Ellen Jarosz

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