Women's and Gender Studies

Program Mission and History


The Women's and Gender Studies Program, since its inception in 1984, has as its central role the teaching and the promotion of research and scholarship about women and gender across the disciplines.

The program maintains and develops an undergraduate minor and a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies, coordinates events such as lectures, panel discussions, film screenings and more in cooperation with faculty and administrators from across Auburn University’ campus, and builds alliances with local, regional, and national programs.

For information on how to become a faculty affiliate of the Women's and Gender Studies Program, see https://www.cla.auburn.edu/womensstudies/people1/become-an-affiliate/.



Women’s studies classes were first offered at Auburn in the 1980s in response to the demand from some female faculty members for curriculum revision that would incorporate the new research on women and gender across disciplines. Judy Lewis (Social Work), Mary Purcell (Human Sciences), and Annette Stanton (Psychology) developed and taught new undergraduate courses within their departments. By 1982 they had formed a Women’s Studies Committee. But Auburn was still a conservative campus, and when in 1984 Judy Lewis proposed a women’s studies minor, the University Curriculum Committee rejected the idea. The Women’s Studies Committee appealed successfully against this decision, and a fifteen-hour interdisciplinary Women’s Studies minor was approved soon after.  (WS Committee to Dean Parks, July 12, 1984; Judith Lewis, memo to Keith Ayers, AU Report, April 18, 1985). 

In July 1988, a proposal drawn up by Catherine Perricone (Foreign Language), Deborah Barrow (Political Science), and Ruth Crocker (History) was presented to Dean Richards laying out a detailed budget for the program. (July 18, 1988 to Dean Richards).   Dean Richards agreed and the program received its first funding, though at a lower level than requested. (Ruth Crocker letter of thanks to Dean Richards, September 20, 1989). Classes were added, and with Dr. Donna Sollie as director (1987), a new publication appeared, “The Plainswoman.”

When Ruth Crocker came to Auburn in 1983, she began to organize brown bag lunches where faculty researchers could share their findings with colleagues across departments and disciplines. These became a regular feature of Women’s Studies programming. Auburn Women’s Studies annual report for 1990-1991 stated that 1,400 undergraduates enrolled for women’s studies courses during that academic year. (Ruth Crocker, Annual Report for the Year 1990-1991, July 30, 1991).  By the late 1980s, Auburn Women's Studies had many new courses. The Women’s Studies Program also benefited from a succession of energetic, dedicated directors.

In 2010, a graduate certificate in Women's Studies was approved and recruited its first students. Today, Auburn’s Women’s and Gender Studies program continues its central mission, “the teaching administration of an 18 hour, interdisciplinary minor, and the promotion of research and scholarship about women and gender across disciplines.”


Chairs and Directors, Auburn Women's and Gender Studies Program, 1982 to Present

1982                              Judith Lewis (Social Work)

1986-1988                    Catherine Perricone (Foreign Language, Spanish)

1988-1990                    Ruth Crocker (History)

1991-1994, 94-98        Donna Sollie (Family and Child Development)

1998-2001                     Mary Cameron (Anthropology)

2001-2005                     Mary Kuntz (Classics)

2005-2008, 08-11         Ruth Crocker (History)

2011-2017                      Joyce de Vries (Art History)

2017, 2017-present      Arianne Gaetano (Anthropology)

Last Updated: December 03, 2020