Honoring Dr. Joanne Hawks’ Legacy of Feminist Leadership

This past July marks the 20th anniversary of the passing of Joanne Varner Hawks, the founding director of the Sarah Isom Center for Women and Gender Studies and the last Dean of Women. The Isom Center honors her legacy of leadership and mentorship for women. Here are two of Jan’s mentees who later became leaders of the University. 

“To most she was a role model. She was a champion of women and women’s’ rights. She really helped create a good environment for women here on campus. She was the epitome of loyalty, commitment, and service--a truly wonderful person.”

-- Provost Emerita Carolyn Ellis Staton, JD as quoted by the Southern Register in an article about Hawk’s passing

“Jan was the head person there and really kept us going. Once the group caught on, it lasted ten or fifteen years. Out of that group came multiple people who later went into administration at the university. Caroline Staton was one, and myself, and others. Brenda West was there and she went into administration and the alumni association. Many of us ended up really being responsible for the future of the university and taking on leadership roles. I don’t think we would have done that had we not had Jan as our mentor, but as our model of a person who could be calm and cool and collected, but vigilantly persistent. But to be persistent in a way that helped other people understand what you were interested in.”

-- Dr. Gloria Kellum, Vice Chancellor Emerita of University Relations 

We invite you to watch the video below to learn more about Dr. Jan Hawks

Kevin Cozart