The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center  



Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center

"The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center is a true asset - not only as a vehicle for education, leadership, and empowerment for women students of Aquinas College, but to the community at large."
- Marie Wilson, White House Project Director and Author,
"Closing the Gap, Why Women Can and Must Help Run the World"
Our Vision

The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center prepares students to become catalysts for change and voices for feminist ideals, both in our society and around the globe.

Our Mission

The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center serves as a community resource for women's and gender issues; promoting awareness of these issues through its programs and curriculum, and empowering students and community members to become advocates for gender equality and social justice.

What We Do
The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center supports its mission through both its programming activities and its academic curriculum.
  • Offers an academic program, the Women's Studies Minor.
  • Offers a student internship program. For further information, contact the Women’s Study Center in Lower Wege, Room 111.
  • Sponsors the Women Make a Difference Lecture Series.
  • Acts as a clearinghouse for information about services available for women. Contact the center for more information.
  • Offers literature, books, and videos about women and gender issues.
    Available for students to rent from the Jane Hibbard Idema Women’s Studies Center Library in lower-level Wege Center, room 111
  • Partners with the West Michigan Women's Studies Council.
  • Supports women's academic growth at all stages of their lives.
  • Hosts the Resourceful Women's Conference, a student conference.
  • Sponsors the Gender Studies Club, a student organization.
  • Sponsors GET (Girls Empowering Together), an after-school leadership program for high school girls
>Download (pdf) our brochure
Our History
The initial interest in developing a Women's Studies program at Aquinas began in the fall of 1980 (Kozal, 1994). At that time, a small group of women - Jane Hibbard Idema, Sister Yvonne Greiner, and Betty Jennings - recognized the need for broadening the curriculum to include topics and concerns that were relevant to women. In part, their observations stemmed from their personal experiences with the Encore Program, which was geared toward returning, non-traditional women students.

Additionally, however, their ideas to develop courses in women's studies coincided with larger educational transformations that were occurring nationally in the United States in response to the second wave of the women's movement. Formal structures for courses in Women's Studies were becoming increasingly visible nationwide.

At Aquinas, the impact of such educational changes was reflected in a move to formalize the structures in which women's studies courses were offered. Subsequently, the Women's Studies Cognate was established in 1983 (Kozal, 1994).

Once the academic program was established it became important to designate a space where women could come at Aquinas to ask questions, receive guidance, and feel welcome. The Women's Studies Center was established in 1986.

In 2000, Mary Caroline "Twink" Frey and James E. McKay generously contributed an endowment which enables the Center to provide wonderful services and programs to the Aquinas community and the greater Grand Rapids area year after year.
Kozal, Patricia. 1994 (March). "Celebrating 10 Years of Women's Studies at Aquinas." Newsletter.


Our Name

On November 3, 2000 the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center was re-named in honor of Jane Hibbard Idema for her work with the Encore for Women Program at Aquinas, which was designed to meet the needs of women returning to school. Jane's early interest in helping women improve the condition of their lives led to her involvement with a small group of women at Aquinas who together established the Women's Studies Center in 1986.

To acknowledge her work with the Encore Program as well as her dedication to improving women's lives, the Center was renamed the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center in November, 2000.


Our Supporters

The Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center's accomplishments would be impossible without the help of the following:

The Mary Caroline "Twink" Frey and James E. McKay Endowment Fund
Community Liaison: Margaret Idema

Programming Board

Amy Dunham Strand, Chair

Shellie Jeffries Michel Pichot

Elizabeth Chamberlain

Jim Rasmussen Latoya Booker
Erica Utter (student) Margaret Miller (student) Ellyse VanderKamp (student)

Resourceful Women Conference Committee

Jennifer Hess (Chair, 2012) Brigid Avery Penny Avery (Co-Chair, 2016)
Rebecca Coogan Pamela Dail-Whiting Bethany Kilcrease
Susan Ponischil (Co-Chair, 2016) Carmen Ruiz-Sanchez Molly Patterson

Christina Radisauskas

Shelli Rottschafer (Chair, 2014) Amy Dunham Strand

Curriculum Committee

Molly Patterson, Chair

Elizabeth Chamberlain

Rebecca Coogan

Michelle DeRose Amy Dunham Strand Carmen Ruiz-Sanchez
Julie Schatz-Stevens Deborah Wickering  

GET (Girls Empowering Together) Advisory Board

Susan Haworth-Hoeppner, Chair Past Director, Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center
Debbie Autman Attorney Referee of Kent County
Chantal Beresford Employment Specialist for Goodwill Industries of Greater Grand Rapids
Nanette Clatterbuck Dean of Education at Aquinas College
Wendy Dean Teacher at Central High School
Wanda Garyson Community Member
Maxine Gray Talent Recruiter at Herman Miller, Inc.
Ruth Jones Hairston President at Judah Consultants; retired principle at Henry Park Paideia Academy

Lauri Parks

City Clerk of Grand Rapids
Latricia Trice Marketing Communications Director at Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce
Marvin Trotter Student Support Reform Facilitator at Grand Rapids Public Schools
Raul Ysasi Secondary Placement Coordinator, Student Information and Services Center at Grand Valley State University
Milinda Ysasi-Castanon Human Resources Generalist, PHR, Cascade Engineering

Gifts to the Center are welcome and will be used to support the Jane Hibbard Idema Women's Studies Center Lecture Series as well as other programmatic efforts at the Center. >Give to the Center Online