IRWG Director Sarah Fenstermaker Announces Retirement

This September, Sarah Fenstermaker will conclude her five-year term as IRWG director and will retire to her home in California.

Dr. Fenstermaker had a long career of feminist scholarship in sociology and women’s studies and was a longtime campus administrative leader at the University of California, Santa Barbara before joining us at Michigan in 2012.

"Over the past five years, Dr. Fenstermaker has helped elevate the institute's reputation as a leader in supporting research on women, gender and sexuality," said S. Jack Hu, U-M vice president for research. "Her efforts are reflected in the multiple initiatives established to enrich feminist research and dialogue across campus and beyond."

During her tenure as director, IRWG researchers were awarded over $2.6 million in extramural funding. This includes grants awarded from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Ford Foundation, Montefiore Medical Center, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the National Science Foundation. She oversaw the appointment of two researchers to join the IRWG research faculty, and spearheaded the creation of a faculty research development position, unique among gender research institutes.

Dr. Fenstermaker established several initiatives to enrich feminist research and dialogue at U-M. Highlights include:

  • Feminist Research Seminars, which brought over 80 scholars from 52 different colleges and universities (including U-M) to Ann Arbor for collaborative research and discussion.
  • IRWG’s Senior Visiting Scholar Program, which invites accomplished senior faculty from academic institutions outside U-M to IRWG for up to a year to engage in research, mentoring, and public events.
  • Reconstitution of the SHARP program, housed at IRWG, and the founding of its Joan Schafer Research Faculty Award in Sport, Fitness and Disability.
  • An extremely successful set of 20th anniversary celebration events, including Lane Hall’s first-ever juried art show. Titled, Re-Imaging Gender, the exhibition featured the work of 15 MFA graduate student artists from around the U.S.
  • Nearly 150 IRWG-sponsored events, including appearances by Lilly Ledbetter, Anna Deavere Smith, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Piper Kerman.

Reflecting on her time at U-M, Dr. Fenstermaker said, “The work I accomplished at IRWG and the teaching I did in Women’s Studies was the most satisfying of my career, and every day I was glad that I could help IRWG make important things possible for our vibrant U-M community of gender scholars.”

The Institute will announce its next director in September.

Thank you Sarah!

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