OSU Women Studies celebrates 40th year

OSU Women’s Center Director Beth Rietveld was one of the speakers at Reser Stadium on Tuesday. (Andy Cripe | Corvallis Gazette-Times)

Oregon State University’s Women’s Center and Women Studies program marked its 40th anniversary with a ceremony held Tuesday on the second floor of Reser Stadium.

An audience of about 100 looked on while a handful of faculty members from the past and present spoke on the history of the program and its development over the years.

Janet Lee, a professor and former director of Women Studies at OSU, was one of four speakers who remarked on the significant work done by the late Jeanne Dost, who founded and directed the program. She died on June 9 at her home in Freeland, Wash.

Lee said Dost, who was named a Woman of Achievement by the OSU Women’s Center and retired in 1991, was responsible for “getting it all going.”

“She blazed the trail for us,” Lee said. “She was an advocate for women and people of color.”

The speakers said Dost left a blueprint for advancement of the program and the center.

“We developed courses, developed a minor and now a grad program,” Lee said.

Beth Rietveld, the director of the Women’s Center, discussed the events and people who aided in the center’s advancement — including the establishment of Title IX, which gave women’s athletics programs equal funding, Ms. Magazine, and the President’s Commission on the Status of Women. She also noted that a previous tenant of the Women’s Center on the campus was the university’s paleontology lab.

The women at the center are proactive in the global plight of women, she said.

“Millions of women across the world face discrimination,” Rietveld said. Compelling global women’s issues include prohibitions on the education of girls, slavery, child marriages and female genital mutilation.

She also urged current students to recognize and carry on the work that went into the program.

“It took a great deal of work to create the space and resources you have available today,” Rietveld said. “Remember to continue the work we started a brief 40 years ago.”

The keynote speech was delivered by Beverly Guy-Sheftall, the founding director of the Women’s Research and Resource Center.

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