History of the Minor
Students and faculty started the Women's Studies Minor in the 1970s in response to
the absence of the study of women's lives and experiences in traditional curricula.
In this respect, the students and faculty were echoing discontent with university
curricula nationwide as Women's Studies Programs emerged on campuses. Women on this
campus met, conducted a survey of needs for women on campus, and generated a list
of concerns that they took to the President. A priority on the list was the need for
a history course focusing on women in U.S. history.
Professor Betty Joe Wallace offered the first Women's Studies course, "Women in American History," in 1978. The interdisciplinary program was first housed in the History Department and coordinated by Professor Wallace. In this time frame, six courses were listed for the Women's Studies Minor, of which four were offered on a regular basis.
In 1993, Dr. Susan Calovini became the coordinator of the Women's Studies Minor. Under Dr. Calovini's leadership the minor increased in number of courses within the curriculum, number of classes offered per semester, number of students being served, and responsibilities of the coordinator. In Fall 1994 when the first introductory course was offered, eleven students were enrolled. Beginning in Fall 2008, the introductory course became a choice in the social science requirement as part of the general education requirements. Two sections of the introductory course (one in the classroom and one online) are now offered each semester. Additionally, students may choose to take Introduction to LGBTQ Studies offered each semester. To culminate the 18-hour minor, students join African American Studies minors for a capstone seminar in social justice, DIVR 4020. This course is designed to synthesize students' abilities in navigating intersectional politics, conversations, and social justice issues. Students learn to identify and navigate intersectional issues in their personal lives and in social and political structures.
Dr. Jill Eichhorn began directing the program in Spring Semester of 1999. The Women's and Gender Studies Minor is interdisciplinary, housed in the College of Arts and Letters.
On October 2, 2022, we lost this gifted and beloved member of the APSU family – Dr. Jill Eichhorn, Associate Professor of Languages and Literature. She passed away after a brief illness.
Dr. Eichhorn spent much of her life serving her students and her community. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and German Literature and her Master of Arts in English from the University of Montana. After earning her Ph.D. from Miami University in Ohio, Dr. Eichhorn arrived at Austin Peay in 1995 as an adjunct instructor. In 2000, she joined the University full time as an Assistant Professor, and a few years later, she became the director of the Women’s and Gender Studies programs. Her husband, Barry Kitterman, taught fiction writing at APSU until his retirement in 2021.
Over the years, Dr. Eichhorn dedicated herself to fighting injustices in the world, specifically regarding violence against women and sexual and gender-based abuse in this community. She began coordinating the Clothesline Project in 1996 to address these issues, as well as overseeing performances of the Vagina Monologues on campus for 18 years. Her efforts helped raise more than $20,000 for organizations such as Clarksville’s Sexual Assault Center, the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Urban Ministries Safehouse.
In 2019, she was awarded the APSU Distinguished Community Service Award which recognizes a full-time faculty member whose service has enhanced or will enhance the quality of life in the Clarksville-Montgomery County area.
Dr. Eichhorn is survived by her husband, Barry Kitterman, and their two children, Teddy and Hannah. Her death is a great loss for the APSU community, but we are grateful for the wonderful legacy of compassion and service Dr. Eichhorn has left her students and friends.