Posted on October 05, 2022

people clapping at an event

On Thursday, September 22, UNC Greensboro’s Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) program marked the 50th anniversary of its establishment with a celebration at the Alumni House.

Current and former students, faculty, friends, and administrators gathered to reflect on the program’s rich history and to celebrate a history-making gift by Claudia Kadis ’65.

“For 50 years, beginning long before the invention of the term ‘diversity, equity and inclusion’ and continuing today, the WGSS program has served as a beacon on UNCG’s campus for feminist and antiracist inquiry, the practice of love, and the quest for social justice,” said program director, Dr. Lisa Levenstein.

One of the first Women’s Studies programs in the nation

Started in 1972, UNCG’s Women’s Studies Program (as it was called then) was only the third such program in the nation. The program served as one of UNCG’s first formal sites of interdisciplinary inquiry, in which faculty and students from different majors came together to share knowledge and approaches. 

speaker at podium
Dr. Hephzibah Roskelly, a previous director of WGSS, speaks about the program’s history.

Many of the people crucial to the success of WGSS were in attendance at the celebration, with remarks shared by the following individuals:

  • Lisa Levenstein, current director
  • Linda Carlisle, founding WGSS Friends member, advocate, and donor
  • Hephzibah Roskelly, professor emerita of English at UNCG and past director of WGSS
  • Debbie Storrs, provost and executive vice chancellor
  • Amber Esters, MA, UNCG WGSS ‘19
  • Eric B. Toler, BA UNCG WGSS ‘18, MA UNCG WGSS ‘20
  • Tiffany Holland, PCB in WGSS from UNCG ‘11 and professional track faculty
  • Danielle Bouchard, associate professor of WGSS and director of graduate studies

Since its establishment, the WGSS program has continuously evolved – adding “gender” and then “sexuality” to its name and coursework while tackling new issues facing women and other marginalized people today. In addition to an undergraduate major, minor, and graduate certificate, the program now offers the only master’s degree in women’s studies in the region – from Atlanta to Washington, D.C.

A history-making gift

Also at the anniversary event, Levenstein announced exciting new history in the making: the establishment of a $1 million distinguished professorship by Claudia Kadis.

A 1965 graduate of Woman’s College (now UNCG), Kadis is a staunch advocate for social justice. The new Dylan Rose Kadis and Eloise Hall Kadis Distinguished Professorship in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies is named after her granddaughters, in the hope that they will be inspired to carry on the important work of the WGSS program throughout their lives.

The professorship will be awarded to a deserving UNCG faculty member to support their research and teaching agenda and advance the work of the program.

“This gift, our second distinguished professorship, arrives at a perfect moment – when budgets are tight and yet attacks on women’s, transfolks’, and other marginalized people’s bodies and lives are escalating,” said Levenstein.

Do you want to support the work of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at UNCG? Click here to make a gift.

View photos from the event:

Story by Brianna Martinez and Elizabeth Keri, College of Arts & Sciences
Photography by David Row, University Communications

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