The Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair and Steinem Initiative

The Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair In Media, Culture And Feminist Studies

Rutgers University has established the first ever Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies. Through this groundbreaking chair, Rutgers will educate future generations of students from underrepresented groups, to harness the power of media and transform society.

Launching the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair

A search is currently underway to seek a prominent leader in the area of media, culture, and feminist studies to launch the prestigious Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair. The candidate will be announced by the fall of 2018.

Origins of the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair

Following a three-year, $3 million campaign, Rutgers University achieved a historic goal in 2017 to establish the first-ever academic chair named in honor of prominent feminist Gloria Steinem.

The chair – a collaboration among Rutgers Institute for Women’s Leadership, School of Communication and Information and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the School of Arts and Sciences – focuses on the creative and complex ways information technology and new media are reshaping culture now, and could increase accuracy and representative stories in the future. The occupant of the chair, who may be chosen from among media innovators anywhere in the world, will teach, conduct research and lead discussions on ways to increase the accuracy and diversity of all people see through various media windows.

The Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies, funded by more than 425 donors, including a dozen foundations and a matching pledge made possible by Rutgers President Robert Barchi, will immerse students in debate and scholarship about new media, social change and power structures.

“We know that new media are transforming our governance,” Gloria Steinem said, “and also that they may be short on facts and context. We also know that heritage media haven’t always told an inclusive story. I’m very proud that the late Alison Bernstein, a visionary scholar who directed Institute for Women’s Leadership, committed this chair to inclusiveness and accuracy. I’m also proud that Rutgers is not only one of the oldest and most respected public universities, but has a student population that looks like the nation. I’ve come to believe it’s as good as Harvard – with democracy added. It also happens to be next to one of the media capitals of the world.”

The idea for the chair originated in 2014 with Bernstein, a visionary scholar who became director of Institute for Women’s Leadership in 2011. Bernstein saw the chair as a way to simultaneously honor an American feminist icon and establish a multidisciplinary teaching role leveraging Rutgers’ strong platforms in media, social change, and women’s and gender studies.

Despite Bernstein’s untimely death from cancer in 2016, her quest to create the first academic position named for a preeminent living feminist grew into a shared mission. A steering committee of dedicated volunteers continued to raise funds.

Committee co-chairs Geraldine Laybourne and Subha Barry expressed gratitude to all who contributed to the fundraising effort and to Steinem, who embraced the initiative and assisted at every phase. “Everything that Gloria does is inclusive and every question she makes us think about is important,” they said in a joint statement. “The fundraising for the chair was a tremendously fun learning experience. Imagine what this will mean for students – and for media.”


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