Students Take Action: Institute for Women's Leadership

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Sister Nancy Hynes Center for Women

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Dedication of Sister Nancy Hynes Center for Women (2007)

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Nancy Hynes, OSB

Discussions about a Women's Center at the College of Saint Benedict date back at least to the 1970s, with variations on a Women's Leadership Training Institute appearing in the 1980s and a demonstration project proposed in the 1990s.  The Institute for Women's Leadership in its current iteration came about in the spring of 2003, when CSB students Beth Heinzen and Sarah Summers met with the Vice President of Student Development, Mary Geller, who helped formalize a plan for a Women's Center which was approved by the Board of Trustees later that year.  The Women's Center officially opened in the Haehn Campus Center on March 29, 2004, and held its first program, "The F Word", on feminism.   

On September 16, 2007, the Women's Center was dedicated to Dr. Nancy Hynes, O.S.B., and in 2009 the Center was renamed the Sister Nancy Hynes Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL). The name change indicated focus was on women’s leadership. Lisa Baker severed as the first student program director from 2003-2004 and Bethany Heinzen took over as director from 2004-2005. In 2007, IWL changed Women’s Week to Women’s Month. In 2011, the theme of Women’s Month, “Engage, Empower, Explore: The Adventure is Yours,” incorporated many topics, including panels on sexual orientation and monastery and race.  

Sister Nancy Hynes, OSB

The IWL was named after Dr. Nancy (Linus) Hynes, O.S.B., as she advocated for gender equality and was an influential figure on campus. In 1955, Hynes received her B.A. Degree in English with Minors in History, Philosophy, and Education from CSB. Hynes joined the Order of Saint Benedict’s Monastery in 1956. She was received into the novitiate in 1957, made her first monastic profession in 1958, and made her perpetual profession in 1961. Hynes was a Professor of English at CSB from 1957-1960 and 1975-2007. From 1970-1974, she was the Director of Public Information. In addition, for a time, Hynes was the faculty advisor for Studio One and was the first director of the First-Year Symposium program from 1984-1989. In 1965, she received her M.A. Degree in English from Marquette University. In 1983, she received her Ph.D. Degree in English with an emphasis on Rhetoric, Literature, and Linguistics from the University of Southern California. She established English courses covering gender in 1979, long before anything else happened. She focused on how equal rights pertained to men, women, and race. In 2005 she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She was cancer-free until the spring of 2007 when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Sister Nancy Hynes passed away on December 15, 2008. 

Read more:

Nancy Hynes Institute for Women’s Leadership [and its namesake]: A Brief History   Powerpoint presentation by Peggy Roske.  

Students Take Action: Institute for Women's Leadership