Message from the Chair


I am pleased to be writing my first Chair’s Message!  As I begin my 30th year as a professor at UK, I look forward to working with students (current and alumni), faculty (in the department and from around the university), and staff and administration to expand the role of GWS as a central, integral part of UK’s educational and research missions.  GWS course offerings continue to expand and enrollments are growing, providing more students with quality educational opportunities to engage with critical topics including gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, transnational issues, and intersectionality.  Students at UK, and through online courses students from anywhere in the world, can interact with our award-winning faculty and graduate student TA’s.  GWS classrooms, on campus and on the web, are dynamic environments of learning and the department is committed to our educational mission.

One of my most important jobs as chair is to support GWS faculty and graduate students as they create new knowledge to move forward our understanding of essential topics of justice, equality, and lived experiences.  This work is essential to GWS and UK being leaders in the Commonwealth and our changing world.  For example, the Comparative Perspectives on #MeToo Conference this past spring brought scholars from around the world to share their research and dialogue with students and faculty on the UK campus.  The upcoming Kentucky Gender & Women’s Studies Conference, organized by GWS PhD students, will bring presenters from several other states to talk about their research and host critical discussions. These programs contribute to the active and contemporary scholarly environment at UK.

While we look back with appreciation for those who have contributed to where we are as a department today (including Professor Joan Callahan, who passed away on June 6; see former Chair Patty Copper’s tribute), we also look forward to the new additions and next generation who will continue to build the department (including new GWS professor Frances Henderson and post-doctoral fellow Abby Folberg).  GWS will also continue to work with the entire UK family to grow and help students flourish (see the stories about the Tomasky Leaders Program and the new Sarah Caton Scholarship).

As I begin my tenure as Chair, I look forward to meeting and collaborating with students, faculty, and staff, and sharing the many accomplishments of GWS with you.

Ellen Riggle
Chair, Gender & Women's Studies

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