Posted by: gdevi | September 26, 2012

In Memoriam: Professor Virginia Martin

In Memoriam

Associate Professor Emerita Virginia Martin, who taught at LHU from 1969-1999 passed away yesterday morning, September 25th, after a brave struggle with cancer.

Those of us who knew Virginia would remember her upright personality, her quick wit and wonderful sense of humor, and her genuine generosity and kindness towards others. Virginia retired from the English department and I teach in the English department, but I got to know Virginia primarily through the Women and Gender Studies minor, or the “Women’s Studies” program, which Virginia helped establish at LHU in the early 1970s.  Speaking in an interview to The Haven magazine in spring 2012, Virginia recounted how the academic study of women’s issues rose out of her sense of a need “for women to get more confidence in themselves” following discussions with her women students.  The courses that Virginia developed in the early seventies such as “Women In Literature” and “Issues in Feminism” paved the way for other associated and interested LHU faculty to offer more women-centered courses.  The Women’s Studies program, which Virginia helped establish at LHU has grown into the thriving Women and Gender Studies minor taught by qualified faculty to committed students.

I always likened Virginia in my mind to someone like Molly Ivins, an intrepid progressive intellectual who cared deeply about the folks who do not get to make headlines on the front page of a newspaper.  Even after retiring from LHU, Virginia actively continued to support LHU faculty and students and campus causes related to women and gender issues.  When a group of committed LHU faculty got together and formed the HOPE Center in 2009-2010, Virginia donated her large and extensive collection of feminist and women-centered books to the HOPE library.  Virginia’s dedication towards LHU students and their academic success as well as their good citizenship in a healthy society were once again evident when she made a generous gift to the Women and Gender Studies minor in 2011 to sponsor an annual student gender issues essay contest.  The Virginia Martin Prize in Gender Issues essay contest is open to any registered student currently pursuing a degree at LHU.  In October 2011, Virginia was inducted into the Alumni Association Roll of Service for her many contributions to Lock Haven University.

I am profoundly honored to have had the opportunity to know Virginia, even if only for a brief time.  I shall mourn her passing with a personal sorrow: she was a remarkable intellectual, mentor, teacher, colleague and campus and community member.  Rest in peace, Virginia.

Dr. Gayatri Devi

Department of English

Coordinator, Women and Gender Studies

Lock Haven University

Lock Haven, PA 17745

Tel: 570-484-2284

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