In 1889 — 22 years after West Virginia University opened its doors to students — the first 10 women entered the University as degree candidates. Among them was Harriet E. Lyon, who had transferred from Vassar College.

Two years later, Lyon would become WVU’s first female graduate, finishing at the top of her class.

In honor of Lyon and the rich legacy of women students at the University, Judith Gold Stitzel, founding director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, has established a first-of-its-kind professorship that recognizes, emphasizes and supports the interdisciplinary role of women’s and gender studies throughout the University.

The professorship will allow faculty from any department or program within WVU and its satellite campuses to apply for a two-to-three year, part-time appointment to teach and/or conduct research as a part of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

The announcement of the professorship was made Thursday during a reception celebrating the 35th anniversary of the Center. Lyon’s time at the University will be further commemorated throughout 2016 through celebratory and educational activities to recognize the 125th anniversary of women at WVU.

“This professorship is an innovative concept and will engage faculty members from across the university in an interdisciplinary conversation. It will also enhance people’s awareness of our academic unit and how the field of women’s and gender studies truly touches on all disciplines,” said Jennifer Orlikoff, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies.

A number of supporters have joined the effort to fund the initiative, to date bringing the total raised to $330,000. This includes gifts made in conjunction with Judith Stitzel’s retirement in 1998 and her $100,000 gift that officially kicks off the campaign to fully fund the professorship.

“We are proud to host this new professorship in the Eberly College,” said Interim Dean Maryanne Reed. “A University of this size and academic diversity thrives when faculty collaborate on new ideas. This is a great time to emphasize the relevance of our Center for Women’s and Gender Studies and its relationship to all of the academic disciplines.”

The professorship, Stitzel said, moves her deeply because it recognizes that others share her commitment to the Center’s goals and that they appreciate the Center’s value.

“Such an honor allows me to revisit my role in the Center’s past while providing me a place in its future. I am very grateful,” she said.

Opportunities are available to contribute in honor of Judith Gold Stitzel or any person whose efforts inside, or outside, of the University support the goals of this new initiative.

For more information on how to make a gift in support of this fund, contact Brittany Swope, at 304-293-6308 or

This contribution was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $1 billion comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2017.

For further information on the comprehensive campaign, please visit or



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