Excerpts of BYU to fold its Women's Research Institute by Brian Maffly, Salt Lake Tribune
Some faculty members at Brigham Young University are mourning the apparent demise of the school's Women's Research Institute, an interdisciplinary center that has sponsored research across the academic spectrum for three decades.
Administration officials announced the move last week, calling it a reorganization that "will result in significantly expanded resources and creative activities pertaining to women," according to BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins.
But in an Internet posting, unnamed WRI-affiliated faculty noted that the reorganization removes an institution with a record of coordinating research across disciplines, from ancient scripture to health science. The center, with 83 affiliated faculty from nearly every department on campus, has published dozens of papers, notably in the areas of peace and violence.
"This is really significant research that has been recognized at the highest levels in social science and it's disappearing as a university priority. It's utterly lamentable because there's still a need for that," said political science professor Valerie Hudson in an interview.
An outside scholar called WRI's elimination "unfortunate," particularly in light of BYU's troubled history with women's studies. In the mid 1990s, a popular women's conference was launched and folded amid much controversy, noted Christine Talbot, a scholar of Mormon history who coordinates University of Northern Colorado's women's studies program.
"A lot of people saw the institute as an effort to revamp women's studies on that campus," said Talbot, who completed her doctoral work at the University of Utah three years ago. "It's the only place in the United States that is a focal point for Mormon women's history."
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