November 05, 2004

McDermott is new Women's Studies director

by K.C. Jaehnig

CARBONDALE, Ill. - - M. Joan McDermott, an associate professor in the Administration of Justice Program's Center for the Study of Crime, Delinquency and Corrections, is the new director of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Women's Studies program. She replaces Beverly A. Stitt, who retired Sept. 1. McDermott, who has had a cross-appointment in the program since 2002, will spend half her time on administration, 25 percent of her time teaching women's studies courses and 25 percent of her time teaching administration of justice courses.

"Because most of my work is interdisciplinary, this job is a good fit for me," said McDermott, whose research has focused on, among other topics, women as both victims and offenders and on domestic violence.

"Women's Studies doesn't have any faculty of its own - - they all come from other departments - - and it's exciting to work with people all over campus."

McDermott plans to hold a February planning retreat for faculty members who teach women's studies courses to discuss where to take the program in the future.

"It's not something that I want to define myself," she said. "I want to take advantage of their expertise in a lot of different areas."

There will, however, be some revamping of the curriculum for the undergraduate minor, including the addition of a feminist theory class and possibly an international course. Minors likely will have to take electives from more than one department in order to give their studies a broader focus. And McDermott plans to urge departments that offer suitable gender-related courses to cross-list them in the program.

"This would really help us enhance what we offer," she said.

McDermott also would like to see the program become a little better known.

"While we don't have a major, we have a strong minor," she said. "We also have a good graduate certificate program, and I don't think many people are aware of it."

McDermott, who came to SIUC in 1991, has achieved national visibility with her research, winning grants from such groups as the National Institute of Justice and the American Bar Association. She participates in mentoring programs, is president of the Board of Directors of the Women's Center and in 2000 was named one of SIUC's "Women of Distinction."

McDermott earned her bachelor's in 1970 from Wheeling College in West Virginia, her master's in 1973 from Boston College and her doctorate in 1979 from the State University of New York at Albany.