Celebrating an anniversary within an anniversary, the Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Rider University marked its first 30 years at its annual colloquium on April 12, in conjunction with the yearlong 50th anniversary celebration of Rider’s School of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The program featured five student panels on related topics, as well as the presentations of the prestigious Ziegler-Gee Award and the Virginia Cyrus Scholarship.
Dr. Mary Morse, associate professor of English and director of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program, was named the 2012 recipient of the Sadie Ziegler-Bernice Gee Award. Established in 1986, the Ziegler-Gee Award honors Rider faculty, staff and administrators who have contributed significantly toward ending gender-based discrimination on campus, in their fields, and in their communities.
“The Gender and Sexuality Studies program at Rider has been a supportive community for my teaching, research and service ever since I came to Rider in 2000,” A grateful Morse told those in attendance. “All of you are part of the outreach that makes the GSS program such a vibrant and vital presence at Rider. You have been my models. I look forward to continuing to work with you to help our GSS program continue to thrive and positively affect our Rider community.”
A special GSS service award was also presented to Dr. Judith Johnston, professor of English and a former director of Gender and Sexuality Studies, who is retiring at the end of the spring semester.
“I’m really so pleased, especially knowing that this came from the heart of my colleagues,” said Johnston, a co-recipient of the Ziegler-Gee Award in 1992.
Eric Balboa ’13 and Megan Pendagast ’13, both Gender and Sexuality Studies minors, were named the dual recipients of the Virginia Cyrus Scholarship for the 2012-13 academic year.
“When I was told that I was going to receive the Virginia Cyrus Scholarship, I was blindsided and honored,” said Pendagast, an English major with a second minor in Law and Justice. “The Gender Studies program at Rider is more than an academic track; it’s a closely knit community that I am incredibly proud to be a part of.”
Balboa, a Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology double major, was similarly moved at receiving the scholarship, which was established for part-time or full-time students who show the potential to improve the status of women through scholarship or activism.
“When I first read Dr. Morse’s e-mail (informing him of his selection), I was flustered and speechless – I needed to read it several times to comprehend it!” Balboa explained. “I never had imagined that I would be recognized for my work in gender studies. I just do what interests me and what I feel is needed in the community.”
The two juniors were honored at a reception to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program in the lobby of the Yvonne Theater, inside the Fine Arts Center.
The GSS Colloquium also represented a homecoming of sorts for the event’s keynote speaker, Dr. Cynthia Cyrus, the associate provost of Undergraduate Education and professor of Musicology at Vanderbilt University. She is the daughter of the longtime Rider professor, Dr. Virginia Cyrus, the founder of the Gender and Sexuality Studies program.