16 Graduate Center Professors and Alumnae Who Are Bending Genres, Breaking Glass Ceilings, and Blazing Trails

March 2, 2020

Our faculty and alumnae are changing literature, challenging false perceptions, and fighting for equity and justice. We celebrate their achievements this Women's History Month.

Professors Tania León, Blanche Weisen Cook, Dána-Ain Davis, and Patrizia Casaccia
Professors Tania León, Blanche Weisen Cook, Dána-Ain Davis, and Patrizia Casaccia
Former President REES

Graduate Center professors and alumnae are bending genres in literature, challenging perceptions of critical societal issues, and fighting for justice for women and others. We’re honoring their contributions this Women’s History Month.
To learn more, head to a bookstore or to the Mina Rees Library — Rees, the The Graduate Center’s first president, was a trailblazer herself: the first woman president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science — and read up

1. Start with The Argonauts by MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow Maggie Nelson (Ph.D. ’04, English), who also received a 2019 alumni award

2. Or Reproductive Injustice: Racism, Pregnancy, and Premature Birththe new book by Professor Dána-Ain Davis (GC/Queens, Anthropology/Urban Studies), who is also a Graduate Center alumna (Ph.D. ’01, Anthropology)

3. There’s also the feminist memoir/psychological inquiry My Brilliant Friends by Distinguished Professor Nancy K. Miller (English, Comparative Literature, and French)

4. And a complex analysis of a topic that has received intense media attention: Rape and Resistance, by Professor Linda Martín Alcoff (GC/Hunter, Philosophy)

Lynn-Chancer-Horizontal_DSC6436 photo in library

5. Consider the real-time changes in the women’s movement with Professor Lynn Chancer (GC/Hunter, Sociology)’s After the Rise and Stall of American Feminism: Taking Back a Revolution



6. Question the narrative about opting out and leaning in with Professor Pamela Stone’s (GC/Hunter, Sociology) latest, Opting Out?: Why Women Really Quit Careers and Head Home

7. And for a surprising look at an empowering relationship, see Horse Crazy: Girls and the Lives of Horses, by Professor Jean Halley (GC/College of Staten Island; Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies), who is also a Graduate Center alumna (Ph.D. ’03, Sociology)
Want more inspiration?


8. Carrie Rebora Barratt (Ph.D. ’90, Art History) was named the first woman to lead The New York Botanical Garden 



9. Distinguished Professor Tania León (GC/Brooklyn, Music), acclaimed conductor, composer, and educator, was inducted as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences


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10. Professor K. E. Saavik Ford (GC/BMCC, Physics/Astronomy) is searching for answers about the supermassive black holes that are at the center of every galaxy


11. Tiffany Perkins-Munn (Ph.D. ’03, Psychology) is breaking glass ceilings as an executive at one the world’s largest asset management companies, where she served as global head of decision sciences and is now a managing director


12. Professor Katherine Lu Hsu (GC/Brooklyn, Classics) orchestrates “a miracle every summer” as director of the one-of-a-kind Latin/Greek Institute


Janet Gornick

13. Professor Janet Gornick, director of the Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality, examines how focusing on women could reduce inequality

Headshot: Patrizia Casaccia

14. Professor Patrizia Casaccia (Biology, Biochemistry), founding director of the Neuroscience Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center was awarded a grant of more than $9 million from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

15. The authority on Eleanor Roosevelt is Professor Blanche Wiesen Cook (GC/John Jay, History), who published a renowned three-volume biography of the former first lady


16. And if you’re interested in increasing diversity in this very sphere? Distinguished Professor Virginia Valian (GC, Psychology, Linguistics, Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences/Hunter, Psychology) has a plan for An Inclusive Academy