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Search underway for director of gender studies program

Dr. Margaret McLaren

The College is searching for a new director of the Sexuality, Women, and Gender Studies (SWAG) program, adding additional uncertainty to the leadership of the Lucy Cross Center. 

Dr. Margaret McLaren, professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy and religion department, has served in the position for the last three years, which is the maximum time that a faculty member can lead the program in one sitting. With her sabbatical approaching next year, McLaren looks forward to transitioning the role to another faculty member. 

In a change of plans, the future SWAG director is not required to lead the Lucy Cross Center, according to Dr. Jennifer Cavenaugh, dean of faculty. Cavenaugh said that McLaren was asked to do this but declined because of the lack of course release. 

The Lucy Cross Center, which promotes gender inclusivity through events and discussions, lost its faculty director  position at the beginning of the fall after the course release compensation was removed at the descretion of President Grant Cornwell, Provost Susan Singer, and Vice President of Student Affairs Mamta Accapadi.

 The administrators did not believe a course release was necessary; however, the compensation loss has made it difficult for the Center to fill the position. 

The course release removal occurred after numerous cuts, which started in the summer of 2017, were made to the Center’s staff. At this time, the Center for Inclusion and Campus Involvement and the work study students at the Lucy Cross Center lead and direct it. McLaren said this leadership change in SWAG has no correlation with the newly-issued responsibilities to the role. 

McLaren is not surprised by the support students from SWAG and other gender programs have recently shown for the Lucy Cross Center. “It’s always had students that are very passionate about gender equity and advocacy,” she said.

 “Rollins has a lot going on right now. With the new Title IX director and the new space for Lucy Cross coming in 2020, this could be an exciting time for Rollins and a good time to devote more resources and staffing to gender equity issues,” said McLaren.

SWAG is currently a 28 student program with 30 members of the Rollins faculty teaching courses that count toward the minor. McLaren knows that whoever takes the position of director after her will have a positive experience. “The SWAG students are active and engaged in the campus; it’s a great opportunity since you work closely with those students. They’re a really interesting and committed bunch,” she said.

SWAG is a minor, so the students who take part in it all have different majors that they incorporate into gender studies. To McLaren, this is just another strength that the director can work with. “That makes the minor even more interdisciplinary because they each bring in a disciplinary perspective to SWAG classes,” she said. 

The SWAG director position will include course scheduling and assessment, serving as a faculty advisor to all students within the SWAG minor, and implementing and sponsoring campus-wide programming while advising the Voices for Women club. Applicants for the position must be tenured faculty who teach SWAG courses and have experience in field research for women and gender studies. 

McLaren has held this three-year term as SWAG Director multiple times during her career. She enjoys allowing other faculty members to have the experience. 

“I usually only do it for three years in a row. Chair positions rotate. This is a good year to seek a new SWAG director because I have a sabbatical coming up, and next year I will be around to answer questions before my sabbatical.”

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