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Office of the First Lady

"IU Women's Contributions to Scholarship: Researching, Writing, and Publishing"

Remarks at the 2012 Indiana University Press Panel
University Club, Indiana Memorial Union
Bloomington, Indiana
September 26, 2012

Thank you, Janet. It is my very great pleasure to participate in this afternoon’s event, celebrating the many contributions by Indiana University women and the IU Press to scholarship across the disciplines, and across institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and around the world. As we all know, faculty are the heart and soul of academic enterprises; no college or university anywhere can claim the mantle of excellence without a productive, engaged, and ceaselessly curious faculty, pushing the boundaries of their own disciplines, finding ways to connect to other disciplines, challenging and mentoring their students, and perhaps most important, broadcasting the fruits of their endeavors for the benefit of the larger society.

IU Press has been an essential partner to scholars here at Indiana University and all over the world for 62 years, ensuring that critically important work in all disciplines reaches all of us. I want to thank Janet Rabinowitch for her outstanding leadership of the Press. I also want to extend my deep gratitude to our six panelists today, for your productivity, engagement, and ceaseless curiosity about your own disciplines and their impact on our world.

We are here today to celebrate these six women as individual scholars and writers, and to hear about their experiences of writing and publishing—of making their voices heard. We are also here to acknowledge and celebrate women’s scholarship more generally, on this campus and beyond. Over its nearly 200 year history, Indiana University has worked steadily—if sometimes in fits and starts—to ensure that women are fully integrated into academic life on all eight campuses. And yet, we have to acknowledge that much more work needs to be done.

To be sure, IU has been out in front among public universities in bringing women into the academy; we were among the first, if not the first, public university to admit women in 1867, Sarah Parke Morrison. Sarah was also IU’s first female professor, albeit in an adjunct capacity, and I have to add that her dedication to the university included philanthropy—she contributed $5 (about $200 in today’s money) to replace books lost in the devastating fire of 1883, when IU was located in Seminary Square. (And, by the way, that gift also made her IU’s first woman donor.)

Women are inching closer to parity within the ranks of faculty here in Bloomington, comprising about 40% of full-time professors. And as we’re all aware, IU and universities across the country are educating more young women than young men. This alone may well accelerate the pace at which we close the remaining gap, but it also points to why it’s so critical that we do so. Women students need great role models like our panelists and Janet so that we WILL see more women entering academic life. We need access to their scholarship through their publications. And all of our students, men and women, require and deserve a faculty reflective of the real world. They deserve professors who can give them the diversity of experiences and perspectives that foster real learning. Students of all ages here at Indiana University and beyond are truly fortunate that IU Press has done so much to help make the voices of women scholars heard and understood.

Thank you for joining us today!