I am deeply honored to take on the role of director of UB’s Gender Institute. As the only research center that focuses on women, gender, and sexuality in the entire SUNY system the Gender Institute has nurtured students and scholars for more than a quarter century. For those of you who don’t know me I am a Professor of History whose work explores interconnecting themes of race, gender, and the urban world. Like many UB faculty and students I have personally benefitted from the Institute, presenting works in progress as part of the Feminist Research Alliance and at a Gender Institute Symposium organized by former director Kari Winter, “Wonder Woman and Super Men.” I also discussed my most recent book Living in the Future: Utopianism and the Long Civil Rights Movement as part of the New Books, Feminist Directions series. Carrie Tirado Bramen, my predecessor, created the New Books series and through her tireless efforts the Institute’s budget has grown dramatically and the rates of attendance at its vibrant events have multiplied. I am so grateful to Carrie, and all the former directors, for their work building and sustaining the Gender Institute. And I am thankful to be working with a wonderful team, including our tireless staff assistant Megan Vaughan and graduate assistant Surabhi Pant. I’m also honored to work next to deputy director and SUNY Distinguished Professor Jo Freudenheim.
Because I believe so strongly in the Gender Institute’s mission, I will be doing all I can to increase the visibility of the Institute, both within the university and in the broader community. We are at a crucial moment in our history, with concerted attacks on the LGBTQ community, particularly transgender people, and the loss of reproductive rights. The Gender Institute can play a vital role at this moment, bringing feminist scholarship across all disciplinary fields to the wider public. To this end we have exciting events already lined up for the coming year, which we are kicking off with an opening reception at UB’s Faculty Club on September 14. Jeff Iovannone will also be joining us from Cornell University in October to discuss the pioneering work of transgender activist and writer, Leslie Feinberg, whose novel Stone Butch Blues uncovered the world of working-class lesbian culture in 1960s Buffalo. Watch this space for many more events in the upcoming year. And please encourage your colleagues and students to apply for our generous fellowships, which are eligible across all fields, STEM, Social Science, Humanities, and the Arts. Finally, I urge anyone reading this to reach out. If you know about a recent book that engages feminist scholarship, please pass on that information. Interested in serving on one of our fellowship committees or participating in the Feminist Research Alliance? Let us know! Together we can face the future while learning from the past.
Victoria W. Wolcott