The Russian Department and the Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies Program has organized a conference for November 8, 2019. Our subject: the history of women faculty at Dartmouth.
The first woman on the College faculty, Elizabeth Reynolds Hapgood (1894–1974), taught Russian at Dartmouth in 1918-19 and founded the Russian Department. The conference celebrates the centennial of Hapgood’s history-making presence on the Dartmouth faculty, and the roles played by women faculty in the hundred years since. It coincides with the 250th anniversary of the founding of the College. Though it is impossible to do justice in one day to a topic as important – and as broad – as the inclusion of women on the Dartmouth faculty, we believe that such a moment will occasion celebration and reflection at this moment in Dartmouth’s history. It is the only such event dedicated to women on the faculty in all of the 250th anniversary activities.
After brief welcoming remarks by Prof. Sienna Craig, Anthropology, and Dean of the Faculty Elizabeth Smith, the first panel, “The Pioneer Decades,” opens with Director of Special Collections Jay Satterfield and Professor of Russian Barry Scherr exploring Elizabeth Hapgood’s career and those of other women faculty in the Russian Department. The second half of this panel will address the pre-co-educational experiences of two other women faculty. For nearly twenty years after Hapgood’s hire, no more women were taken on by the College, and until the 1950s their numbers remained small. An exception is Hannah Croasdale, hired by Biology in 1935. Celia Chen, Research Professor of Biology and one of Croasdale’s last undergraduate protégées, will give her reminiscences of this remarkable biologist. She will be joined by Rauner intern Caroline Cook ’21. Associate Dean of the Arts and Humanities Barbara Will concludes the panel by speaking about the experience of her mother, who taught in Classics at Dartmouth beginning in 1953.
The small cluster of women faculty that arrived at Dartmouth in the 1950s served as a bridge to the large class of women faculty recruited in the 1970s in response to coeducation. Panel 2 is devoted to the rich legacies of women faculty at the College during this seminal transition. Lynn Higgins, Prof. of French and Italian and Comparative Literature, and Brenda Silver, Prof. of English, will speak about the early years of women’s studies at the college and the feminist inquiry seminar, which they founded and co-taught. Prof. Mary Hudson will address the key presence of women in science, a field where they remain a distinct minority. Prof. Deborah King, of Sociology, will speak about her experiences as a faculty member, in part addressing entrenched issues regarding the recruitment and retention of faculty of color at Dartmouth.
The third panel, “Contemporary Faculty Experiences,” focuses on faculty of different backgrounds, disciplines, and ranks, who will speak about their experiences today as scholar-teachers at Dartmouth, the growth of the Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program, and the many dimensions of faculty diversity.
During an afternoon break, the conference moves to Rauner Library, where Jay Satterfield and Caroline Cook will introduce a new exhibit on the career of Arctic scientist and explorer Evelyn Stefansson Nef.
The day will close with a collaborative keynote session led by two esteemed former faculty members of the History Department: Judith Byfield ‘80 and Mary Kelley. Each keynote speaker will deliver a 20-minute address, followed by a session to be moderated by Professor of English Ivy Schweitzer.