WVU Professor emerita Judith Gold Stitzel (at left) partnered with former student Suzanne Temple (at right) to establish the “Stitzel/Temple Endowment: Finding Peaceful Paths,” which encourages students to seek peaceful solutions to real-world challenges.
Future West Virginia University students are encouraged to seek peaceful solutions to real-world situations via a generous gift to the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies from a retired West Virginia University faculty member and her former student.
Judith Gold Stitzel, founding director of the Center and English professor emerita at the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, partnered with WVU alumna Suzanne Temple to establish the “Stitzel/Temple Endowment: Finding Peaceful Paths.” The funds will promote learning outside the classroom by offering students opportunities to explore, develop and apply feminist perspectives and non-violent solutions to pressing challenges and conflicts.
Stitzel said the endowment gift was inspired by her passion for women’s studies, her appreciation for the University and her desire to leave a legacy. She reached out to Temple, and they enjoyed working together to create a unique educational opportunity for students that reflects their shared interests.
Temple received two graduate degrees in her native New York City: her bachelor’s degree from Hunter College and Master of Public Administration from New York University. However, it is the master’s degree earned at WVU that she holds closest to her heart. Her position as a graduate teaching assistant for freshman English at WVU was not only fulfilling, but it set her on a course to pursue teaching as a vocation.
“I will be forever grateful for the opportunity I was given, and I view the ‘Stitzel/Temple Endowment: Finding Peaceful Paths’ as a chance to give back to WVU and the students who benefit from their engagement with the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies,” Temple said. “And it is a chance to honor a professor who had the greatest impact on my life, Dr. Stitzel.”
Students enrolled in any Center for Women’s and Gender Studies program will be invited to apply for funds by submitting proposals for specific projects. Awards will be made by the Center’s director and approved by the Eberly College dean.
“I am both delighted and thankful for the new Stitzel/Temple Endowment for Finding Peaceful Paths,” Sharon Bird, director of the Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, said. “WVU students, like so many young people today, express growing concern over the level and intensity of conflict around the world. Our students are eager to use the knowledge and skills they are developing in women’s and gender studies to address social, economic and environmental problems.”
According to Stitzel and Temple, endowment funds could be used, for instance, to investigate peace-making successes and failures from historical and cultural perspectives, conduct oral histories, travel beyond the University to examine archives or exhibits, or develop educational, creative or artistic programs.
“Major social, intellectual, ethical and political issues are always dealt with in ways that are deepened if you ask questions that include perspectives on women and gender,” Stitzel said. “So I am particularly proud that WVU is a university where a student can pursue a minor, major or graduate degree in women’s and gender studies and enhance their contributions to finding peaceful paths in challenging times.”
Starting from a half-time program in the late 1970s, as the new discipline of women’s studies was being developed country-wide, women’s studies at WVU has evolved from two special topics courses in the English department to its present role as a major contributor to the University’s academic offerings and commitment to social justice. In 1984, the Center for Women’s Studies was established under the leadership of former WVU President Neil Bucklew, with Stitzel as the founding director.
A native of New York City, Stitzel came to WVU with her late husband Bob, who served as a professor of pharmacology and later as the director of graduate education. She earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Barnard College and the University of Wisconsin, respectively, and she began teaching English at WVU in 1967 while completing her doctoral dissertation for the University of Minnesota.
Judith Stitzel retired in 1998, but she continues to be involved with WVU as a donor, writer and guest speaker. She divides her time between Morgantown and Seattle, where her son David, his wife Laurel and their daughter Kaya reside.
The “Finding Peaceful Paths” endowment complements the Harriet E. Lyon Professorship in Women’s and Gender Studies, named for WVU’s first woman graduate and endowed in Stitzel’s honor. Gwen Bergner, associate professor of English at the Eberly College, was announced last fall as the second faculty member to receive the appointment.
Stitzel noted that faculty across campus are welcome to apply for the appointment, which reinforces the interdisciplinary nature of women’s and gender studies.
The joint gift from Stitzel and Temple was made through the WVU Foundation, the nonprofit organization that receives and administers private donations on behalf of the University.