Southern Methodist University Commission on the Status of Women records
A Guide to the Collection
The first Commission on the Status of Women was formed in 1971 in order to conduct a study at Southern Methodist University of what the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare called a "discriminatory attitude in regard to female employees in general." The Commission concluded its study by December 1971. The second Commission on the Status of Women formed in 1972 to assist the Vice-President, Dr. Charles R. Vail, and the Provost, Dr. H. Neill McFarland, in implementing the goals of the Affirmative Action Plan in relation to women. This Commission disbanded in 1974.
Southern Methodist University president James H. Zumberge re-established the Commission for the Status of Women in May of 1976 based on recommendations established by the SMU Affirmative Action Plan and the Women’s Faculty Caucus. Zumberge charged the Commission with the following responsibilities:
assist in enlarging the pool of candidates available for employment at SMU, undertake a study to determine the best methods through which personal and professional development could be achieved within the university environment and advise the appropriate administrative officials of actions to be recommended, help to sensitize the university community to the imperative of achieving equality of opportunity and treatment for women, focus attention of faculty and students upon the importance of actively encouraging women students to enter academic and professional training in fields other than those traditionally filled by women, and work closely with the President’s Committee on Equal Opportunity, using it as a resource body and as an instrument for complaint resolution.
Zumberge selected members for the Commission by asking for recommendations from deans and women’s groups on campus, as well as from various individuals. Membership included representatives from the faculty, student body, administrative staff, and non-academic employees. Bonnie Wheeler, Associate Professor of English, was the first chairperson of the Commission. There were 18 members when the Commission had its first meeting in September of 1976.
When R. Gerald Turner became president of SMU in 1995, he would return the Commission’s yearly report with a set of action items or next steps proposals—with copies to the departments connected with each issue. Some issues, of course, take years to resolve, but others were funded or resolved quickly.
Richardson, Darlene. "Women’s committee defines goals." The Daily Campus, September 28, 1976, pg. 1.
This collection contains the records created and collected by Southern Methodist University’s Commission on the Status of Women from 1973 to 2010. The collection is in one box (37 Folders). Materials in this collection include correspondence, minutes, meeting agendas, recommendations for action, annual reports to the president, subcommittee reports, memos, notes, newspaper and magazine articles, newsletters, questionnaires, surveys, workshop materials, and membership and subcommittee lists.
The collection is arranged in four series. The material in each series is arranged by school year, and the contents of each folder are in chronological order. Undated material is placed in the back of the folder. The first series contains the Commission’s records from the 1970s. Issues addressed include affirmative action, women’s participation in the university’s athletics and band, equality in faculty salary, hiring, and promotion, need for child care on campus, cost of living raises, tuition benefits for employees, women and older students returning to school, and Blue Key Honor Society’s exclusion of women. Two items from the previous Commission on the Status of Women are also included.
The second series includes records from the 1980s. Salary equality, affirmative action, job mobility, sexual harassment, and non-sexist language were the main areas addressed during this decade. Other issues addressed include uniform job descriptions, women in college sports, grievance policies, sanitary napkin dispensing machines, health center protocol, maternity leave, rape prevention, safety on campus, and expanding the day care facility on campus.
The third series contains the Commission’s records from the 1990s. Records concerning a new day care facility on campus, salary equity, and sexual harassment are the most plentiful. The Commission also addressed maternity leave, serious offense student judicial procedures, recruiting minority women, health and safety, benefits for domestic partners, and drug and alcohol abuse.
The fourth series contains the Commission’s reports from the 2000s and President R. Gerald Turner’s response. Major concerns of the committee include: faculty and staff salary equity; health and safety oversight for students—including campus security and violence against women, and daycare issues for working faculty and staff.
Access to Collection:
Collection is open for research use.
Permission to publish materials must be obtained from the Director of the DeGolyer Library.
It is the responsibility of the user to obtain copyright authorization.
Southern Methodist University Commission on the Status of Women records, Southern Methodist University Archives, DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University.
Transfer, 2005. Gift, Kathy Rowe, 2011.
The collection was received with the records arranged by both subject and date. Some files were organized according to which subcommittee produced them. The majority of the documents were arranged by date. However, most folders contained several years’ worth of documents, and they were in no apparent order within each folder. During processing, the records were arranged by school year, and materials in each folder were placed in chronological order. Acid-free paper was placed around newspaper clippings.
Allison Osborn, 2009.
Lara Corazalla, 2009.
Detailed Description of the Collection