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by Elizabeth McDaniel
A highlight of my experience in the GW S program has been the opportunity to
converse with Linda Carlisle and Sally Cone about the history of oW men’s and Gender
Studies at UNCG. For over twenty years, both women have raised financial support;
developed scholarships, grants, and awards; formed coalitions across communities;
and supported politically engaged spaces for GW S faculty and students. The
Linda Carlisle
Sally Cone
intentional efforts taken by these women and their abilities to collaborate effectively
with many different administrations, faculty, students, and community members exemplify feminisms in action.
As our conversation began, I asked them to address several aspects: the history of GW S friends, memorable/
proud moments throughout their years of involvement, and what they see or anticipate in the future for GW S.
As a trustee of UNCG, Sally recognized in the early 1980’s an urgent need for better treatment of and
opportunities for women on UNCG’s campus. Having met through their mutual involvement with
Planned Parenthood, Sally and Linda spearheaded a movement to improve the conditions of women and
non-traditional students on campus while recognizing UNCG’s history as a woman’s college. Since the
Women’s Studies program already existed, they decided to focus their efforts
there as a place to start fostering change not only in the university but also in
the community at large. Early Women’s Studies faculty members, including
Jackie White and Mary Ellis Gibson, worked with Sally, Linda, future Friends,
and even Chancellor Pat Sullivan to raise awareness and funding for the
Women’s Studies program. The first WGS Friends meeting took place in 1989
at the Cones’ house, where the group brainstormed and developed a chart of
goals for the program. The goals were as follows: establish a major, grow in
staff and faculty affiliates, provide scholarships and grants for WGS students
and faculty, have in-house faculty, establish a graduate program, and have a
Linda displays the check to the UNCG
Excellence Fund to endow the Linda
Distinguished Professorship. Those in attendance considered this a dream list,
Arnold Carlisle Professorship
yet today, all the original goals have been met.
Linda and Sally reiterated their appreciation to GW S faculty throughout the years, for without the faculty and
staff, GW S Friends could not have dreamed of or known the needs of the program. Both expressed pride in the
deeply interdisciplinary nature of the GW S program. They have watched directors come from various disciplines,
and they attribute the program’s interdisciplinary strength to the ways the directors have used their different
perspectives to diversify the program and offer fresh ways of working in the GW S curriculum. In addition, both
women agreed that one of their proudest moments has been the development of the Master’s program. Sally went
on to say that the end of the year luncheon every May sums up her
most rewarding moments, for she is able to meet the award winners,
graduates, and their families.
In regards to the future, Linda stated she would like to see Friends of GW S
reaching towards new levels of focus, membership, and involvement,
i.e., to develop a new, connected, and engaged group. According to
Linda, “The program has reached a certain base level of support, but
we need now to do the dreaming again, to engage in a new visioning
process.” Right now the questions to be asked of GW S faculty, staff,
Friends of WGS: Paige Hall Smith, Carolyn Flowers, Judy
Schanel, Linda Carlisle, Carole Lindsey-Potter, Sally Cone,
students, and friends are how to dream the next big dream and how to
Mary Kitt Dunn and Donna Fairfield
set these dreams in motion for the process of the next twenty years.
Beyond the monetary contributions that the Carlisles, Cones, and WGS Friends over the years have made towards
Women’s and Gender Studies, our program would not be where it is today without their sincere passion,
humanity, and determination directed towards the visions not only of our program, but
also to the larger scope of social justice and change.
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