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Women and Gender Studies Program Shifts to Department Status

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Cal State Fullerton President Mildred García recently approved changing the Women and Gender Studies Program to a department.

Because the program was essentially functioning as and perceived as a department already and the proposal did not require additional funding, faculty or curriculum, the transition should be smooth, said Renae Bredin, professor of women and gender studies and program coordinator. The change benefits students because it reframes perceptions of employers and graduate schools regarding the degree’s credibility, she said.

The October proposal, authored by Bredin, touts a national trend for women and gender studies programs to become departments. It also states there are enough faculty members to perform all of the departmental functions, and mentions that program performance reviews have recommended the departmental status since 2006.

“The benefits of this change in status accrue not only to our WGST community, but also to the university as a community, by recognizing the important long-term contributions of women and gender studies students and faculty,” Bredin said in response to President Garcia’s April 12 approval. “Becoming a department simply more accurately reflects and reframes these contributions publicly,” she added.

CSUF’s bachelor of arts in women’s studies was approved in the 1998-99 academic year. The program changed its name in 2011 to the Women and Gender Studies Program.

At the time of the October proposal, 124 students had graduated with bachelor’s degrees in women’s studies and 300 had completed the minor. About 20 students have completed the new department’s queer studies minor since it was added in 2011. In the 2016-17 academic year, 50 majors, 40 minors and 12 queer studies minors were enrolled.