NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – Alison R. Bernstein, a scholar in the field of humanities and women’s studies and a former vice president of the Ford Foundation, will become director of Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL) as of July 1, 2011.
Founded in 1991, the institute explores national and international leadership issues while advancing women’s leadership in education, research, politics, science, the arts and the workplace.
IWL represents a consortium of eight units at Rutgers: Douglass Residential College, the Department of Women's and Gender Studies, the Center for American Women and Politics, the Institute for Research on Women, the Center for Women's Global Leadership, the Center for Women and Work, the Institute for Women and Art, and the Office for the Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics.
“Dr. Bernstein, who earned her bachelor’s degree at VassarCollege and her master’s and doctorate at ColumbiaUniversity, brings impressive credentials to this position,” said Rutgers President Richard L. McCormick.
Bernstein served as a vice president for the Education, Creativity, and Free Expression Program at the Ford Foundation from 1996 to 2010. She is currently the William H. and Camille Cosby Endowed Chair and professor of humanities and women’s studies at SpelmanCollegein Atlanta, Ga.,
An academic whose interest in women’s studies runs both wide and deep, Bernstein
coordinated the President’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women while she was
associate dean of the faculty at Princeton, and has done extensive research into American Indian history, with an emphasis on Native American women.
The incoming director said Rutgers’ longstanding leadership and commitment to gender equality drew her to her new post.
“Rutgers is second to none among great universities in this respect. The ground is very fertile for making an even greater difference, building on the past and creating a more inclusiveand effective future,” Bernstein said.
A former member of the Presidential Advisory Board on Tribal Colleges and Universities and the Board of Advisors to the Smithsonian Institution – National Museum of American History, Bernstein teaches an undergraduate course at Spelman, “Walking in Two Worlds: American Indian Women in the 20th Century.”
“In all of my professional life, either in philanthropy or scholarship or both, I have worked with others to achieve social justice goals for the most vulnerable,” she said. “Women and girls still represent two-thirds of the world’s poor, so I intend to use my networks and contacts in the United States and overseas, like South Africa and Egypt, to help women [and men] scholars and activists learn from each other, and to help them figure out how to adapt what works in one situation to others.”
Bernstein is also a scholar in the field of education, with a hand in both the academic and the public sectors.
In addition to serving as program and planning officer at the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education within the U.S. Department of Education, she is writing a book that traces the historical impact of American philanthropy on higher education.
A vice chair of the Bates College Board of Trustees, the new director also serves on the boards of the Samuel Rubin Foundation and Project Pericles, a consortium of 28 universities committed to civic engagement and service learning.
Change magazine chose her as an Outstanding Leader in Higher Education in 2000, and the National Council for Research on Women honored Bernstein with the “Women Who Make a Difference” award in 2007.