Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies: an update

With love, from Woodrow

UPDATED BELOW, within the hour

After hearing that this fellowship had been suspended and signing a petition to protest this decision, I received this e-mail yesterday from Susan E. Billmaier, a Program Officer for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation:

Thank you for your concern regarding the Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies. The following note was sent to friends of the Woodrow Wilson Women’s Studies Fellowship.  As the letter explains, the grants for the 2012-2013 year have been suspended, but the Foundation remains well aware of the importance of this award.  In the coming year, a careful review will ensure its continued strength going forward.  We thank you for your interest and hope you will remain a supporter of the Fellowship in the future.

Dear Friend of the Woodrow Wilson Dissertation Fellowship Program in Women’s Studies,

We are sorry to have to report that, as a consequence of the larger economic downturn, the endowment for the Women’s Studies Dissertation Fellowship has generated insufficient funds to cover program costs over the past several years.  The Woodrow Wilson Foundation has thus decided to suspend the competition for the 2012-2013 year while we explore options to ensure that the program will continue to flourish in the future.  During the coming year we will engage in a careful review of the Fellowship’s goals and structure, with a view toward achieving greater financial stability and success in the future

In its thirty-seven-year history, during which we have awarded over five hundred Women’s Studies Fellowships, the Women’s Studies Program has made a significant contribution to the field.  We take great pride in the Fellowship’s accomplishments, and we will proceed thoughtfully as we undertake this review.

We are grateful for your dedication to and support of this program and will keep you informed as we move forward.

If the Foundation solicits donations and you’ve got the do-re-mi, think about sending them some coin.

UPDATE, 3 p.m. MDT:  Professor Janet Golden of Rutgers University has written to suggest that people keep signing the petition and agitating for the resumption of the fellowship.  She writes:

Susan Billmaier is a wonderful supporter of the WWF WS Dissertation  Fellowship and as members of the Final Selection Committee for this  fellowship, Martha Nell Smith, Regina Oboler and I have enjoyed  working with her and getting to know her.

That said, it is important to note that neither she nor the assistant  to the WWF President will give us a date certain as to when the  program will be restarted, they have not responded to our offer to  help them work on fundraising, and letters to the President of the  Foundation, Arthur Levine, have not been answered by him but by an  assistant.   We are aware that the Foundation has experienced financial  problems of late and seems to have been $4 million in the red in the  past year.  We on the committee have always donated the honoraria back  to the fellowship program, we have donated substantial other funds,  and Martha Nell Smith has helped to secure a substantial donation to  the fellowship.

For this reason, we argue that people should continue to sign the petition, to write to Arthur Levine (levine AT woodrow DOT org), and to press the foundation to meet with supporters to a) announce they will resume the program in January and b) work with us to insure  sustained funding.

All best,
Janet Golden




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3 thoughts on “Woodrow Wilson Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship in Women’s Studies: an update

  1. Sorry, but not surprised, to hear about the suspension of the fellowship in women studies. Very much like the Soviet Union, we support only the rich. I would send a do-re-mi and may be a fa if it goes directly to that fellowship.


  2. It would be incredibly flattering to Women’s Studies to think that a “careful review of the goals and structure” of the program by the foundation is somehow going to make capitalism work harder, but you get the sense that they yanked the plug based on some rigid metric in their investment mechanism, not on a goals and structure basis. As I’m recalling, early in his career the Woodster couldn’t wait to get off of the Main Line to the *train* line (the Dink), so you would think that a little conscience money would kick in here. There’s a whole trope in philanthropy wherein a hypothetical outside doner says why should I give you XYZ, you should be placing more emphasis on ——, which is the asker- cue to say, “if you gave us some money that’s what we’d use it for.” Which is o.k., I guess, but really, why not just s(p)end it more directly then?


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