History - WSSS

History of the Women Scholars’ Speaker Series

"In May 2002, a University Town Hall with the President and Provost included some discussion on diversity and inclusion. In the ensuing Q&A, there were once again questions about how to balance diversity with excellence, implying that members of under-represented groups were not as well qualified or as excellent. A few years before this, there had been a round of hiring of women faculty in the Faculty of Arts and Science, but by 2002 most of them had left the U of L. One issue for many of them was being the lone woman in a sometimes not very welcoming department.

Right after the Town Hall, I had a long discussion with Provost Seamus O'Shea about these issues, and suggested some ways to improve life for women on campus. One suggestion was a speaker series that would feature the work of women scholars, especially recent hires, to allow them to get their research out into the campus community and to make connections with women in other departments and faculties than their own. Dr. O'Shea followed up on this with significant funding, and thus was born the Women Scholars' Speaker Series.

Nearly 20 years later it is still flourishing as a showcase for talented women researchers on campus."

Professor Shelly Wismath,
Dean of the School of Liberal Education and Professor of Mathematics