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‘Madam presidents’ of learned societies to hold summit at ASU

February 20, 2009

Women of color who have been elected to the office of president of national learned societies will gather at Arizona State University Feb. 27 for an unprecedented summit and leadership workshop. The group of women, who include scholars from across the humanities and social sciences, will discuss how they have individually and collectively influenced and led changes that are taking root in higher education.

Titled “Madam President,” the summit will be held from 7:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Feb. 27 in the Memorial Union, Ventana Rooms A and B, at ASU’s Tempe campus.

Among the speakers are: Darlene Clark Hine, Organization of American Historians, and Southern Historical Association; Pat Hill Collins, American Sociological Association; Beverly Guy-Sheftall, National Women’s Studies Association; Nell Irvin Painter, Organization of American Historians, and Southern Historical Association; Dianne Pinderhughes, American Political Science Association; Pearl Robinson, African Studies Association; Loriene Roy, American Library Association; and Vicki Ruiz, American Studies Association. The program’s rapporteur is Frances Smith Foster, who ran for president of the Modern Language Association in 2007.

“This is an opportunity to learn from women at the pinnacle of power who are engaged in transforming those institutions,” says professor Stanlie James, president of the ASU Women’s Faculty Association and director of ASU’s African and African American Studies Program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The summit is hosted by ASU’s Faculty Women’s Association with support from President Michael Crow and Provost Elizabeth D. Capaldi.

“It’s noteworthy that in the first decade of this 21st century women of color have been elected to the leadership position in many of the nation’s learned societies,” says James. “This is an exciting moment in American intellectual history and we didn’t want it to slip past us.”

Learned societies, or scholarly organizations, sponsor annual conferences, publish new research in their disciplines in journals and newsletters, as well as recognize the body of work produced by individual scholars with distinguished awards and fellowships.

“ASU is a perfect fit for such a symposium given the transformative path we’re on in building a New American University model,” James says.

In addition to presenting at a morning session, the speakers will spend the afternoon meeting with faculty and graduate students in their home disciplines: history, political science, English, sociology, women and gender studies, African and African American studies, Chicana/o and Latina/o studies, and also librarians.

“We’ll hear their stories, learn about their roles as women of color, and about their impact on the evolution of these learned societies, and how they are making a difference,” says James. “This will be of particular interest to faculty women at the beginning of their careers as well as graduate students contemplating pursuing careers in academe.”

While on campus, the visiting scholars also will meet with members of the ASU Faculty Women’s Association to discuss women’s leadership in a time of budgetary crisis at universities.

“Madam President: Summit on Women of Color, Leadership and the Learned Societies” is free and open to the public. Seating is limited and reservations are required. Reservations are available at or 480-965-4094. Online maps of the Tempe campus and parking structures at:

The ASU Faculty Women’s Association, since 1954, has presented programs designed to enlighten and provide information about issues affecting the academic women at Arizona State University.