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President's Commission on the Status of Women Records, 1971-2010

By Rachel Lilley

Collection Overview

Title: President's Commission on the Status of Women Records, 1971-2010

Predominant Dates: 1973-1996

ID: RG 159

Primary Creator: Oregon State University. President's Commission on the Status of Women

Extent: 2.3 cubic feet. More info below.

Arrangement: The records are organized into 5 series: 1. Organizational Records, 1972-2010;  2. Correspondence, 1971-2010; 3. Committees and Task Forces, 1973-2007; 4. Reports and Studies, 1971-2007; 5. Ephemera and Newspaper Clippings, 1988-2010.

Date Acquired: 00/00/1992

Languages of Materials: English [eng]


These records were generated and collected by the President's Commission on the Status of Women, an independent commission established in 1972  responsible for advising the President and other administrators on issues of concern to women on campus. The records in the collection document the activities of the commission in its research and advisory role.

Scope and Content Notes

The President's Commission on the Status of Women Records document the organization, administration, and functioning of the Commission since its establishment in 1972, as well as the issues pertaining to women faculty, students, and staff at Oregon State University. The collection includes organizational records; correspondence; records generated by the work of the Commission's committees, sub-committees, and task forces; reports and studies; and ephemera and news clippings. Of particular note are studies regarding faculty salary (1979), campus climate (2005), staff morale (1990), and the work of PCOSW (1997).

Biographical / Historical Notes

The President's Commission on the Status of Women (PCOSW) was established in 1972 as an independent commission responsible to the President. Composed of both men and women from the student body, faculty, and university staff, PCOSW advises the President and other administrators on issues of concern to women at the University, such as the availability of child care, lighting on campus and other safety issues, institutionalized sexism in the hiring process, pay equality, and the recruitment, retention, and tenure of women faculty.

The Commission has regularly sought input from faculty, staff, and students on issues of concern to women, and commission members frequently represent the group at events like University Day and Charter Day. According to Mary Perkins (Chair, 1988), the mission of the commission is to “recruit, employ, and promote women in student, faculty, staff, and administrative positions; improve educational opportunities for women at both undergraduate and graduate levels; appoint women faculty, staff, and students to positions of greater responsibility in university governance; and establish and maintain programs that enhance the professional development of women in teaching, research, and service.”

PCOSW has historically advocated – and continues to advocate – for women at every level of University service and involvement. In 1987, PCOSW and the College of Science co-sponsored an initiative – “Women in Science” – as a support network for undergraduate women in science. Co-organized by Anne Brodie (Biochemistry and Biophysics) and Ilsa Kaattari (Microbiology), the initiative is still active. In 1989, PCOSW advocated that the Women Studies program at OSU be elevated to department status.

In 1992, PCOSW spearheaded the creation of the Staff Development Award, with funding from then-President John Byrne, the Office Personnel Association (OPA), and the OSU Management Association (OSUMA). The award was created to “commend the efforts of a supervisor at any level who supports and encourages classified staff and management staff to participate in educational opportunities. The award consisted of a framed certificate, $400 to be used to fund further staff development, and $200 as a bonus to the supervisor. Later that decade, the name of the award was changed to the University Professional Development Award.

In 1994, PCOSW’s Faculty Recruitment and Retention Committee presented the results of their five-year focus on the “concerns and treatment of tenure-track women faculty at OSU.” Entitled “Achieving Parity for Women at Oregon State University,” the report laid out the current level of underrepresentation of women at OSU, the challenges women face both in and out of the work place, and how the goal of parity might be achieved. The Committee also formulated twelve recommendations that would assist in reaching parity, including: raising awareness on campus of the underrepresentation of women at the ranks of associate and full professor; hiring more women at all ranks, particularly at the senior rank of professor; establishing University-wide rules for parental leave, and affirming OSU’s positive and supportive philosophy toward the right of parental leave; conducting a University-wide salary equity study of faculty salaries; and investigating the extent to which women faculty experience gender harassment in the classroom and in their interaction with students.

In its role as advocate for women at OSU, the Commission has often responded publicly to developments and traditions on campus that are seen as sexist and demeaning to women. In the past, such controversies have included the continuation of the Ms. OSU Pageant, and the portrayal of rape on a T-shirt produced by an OSU fraternity for the annual Civil War game.

According to the Commission’s current bylaws membership in PCOSW is comprised of General Members and Ex-officio Members. New general members drawn from the ranks of faculty and classified staff are appointed by the President of OSU. Annually, a call for volunteers is sent out by the OSU Faculty Senate Office. The list of volunteers is then forwarded to the President’s office; the President makes the final selection, and mails a formal letter inviting the individuals to serve on PCOSW. Student general members are appointed by the Associated Students of OSU (ASOSU). Ex-officio members are “standing members representing other campus organizations and units that have similar goals and can assist PCOSW in furthering its mission.” Unlike general members, ex-officio members are invited by the Leadership Team to serve on the Commission; they are not appointed by the President.

The Commission is governed by a Leadership Team consisting of: a Chair or Co-Chairs, a Public Relations Officer, a Membership Officer, a Secretary, a Treasurer, and a Website Officer. Chair / Co-Chairs serve two-year terms, and may serve only one consecutive, two-year term. All other officers serve year-long terms, and may serve no more than four consecutive terms in the same office. Faculty, staff, and student members serve for one three-year term; student members may be appointed for a one-year, renewable term. All terms of office begin and end in August.

The Commission’s work is typically conducted between August and May, and much of this work is done outside of general meetings, in committees with special focus. Past committees and task forces have included the Institutional Services and Practices committee, the Research Assistant committee, the Sexual Harassment Task Force, the Women in Science Task Force, and the Women on Committees Task Force. Present standing committees include the Speaker Series, Scholarships and Awards, and Campus Climate and Institutional Change.

The leadership team for PCOSW for the 2019-2020 school year is comprised of: Whitney Archer and Diana Ulrey (Co-Chairs), Brittany Nefcy (Treasurer), Kim Hack (Secretary), Mealoha McFadden (Membership), and Erin McIlraith (Communications). Past chairs have included Mary Perkins, Debbie Colbert and Cari Maes (Co-Chairs, 2017-2018), Laura Rice (Chair), Karel Murphy (Chair), Moira Dempsey (Co-Chair), and Michelle Bothwell (Co-Chair).

[Sources used in this guide: The central, OSU landing page for the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and especially the “About” and “Bylaws, Annual Reports, and Meeting Minutes” tabs, was consulted heavily in writing the historical note for this collection. Additional sources used are linked to in the text of the historical note.]

Administrative Information

Accruals: Additions to the collection are expected.

More Extent Information: 7 boxes

Statement on Access: Collection is open for research.

Acquisition Note: The records were transferred to the University Archives in numerous accessions from 1992 through 2011.

Related Materials: The Special Collections and Archives Research Center has other records that address and examine the climate for women students, faculty, and staff at OSU, particularly with regard to the recruitment and tenure of women faculty. These holdings include the Faculty Senate Records (RG 044), the Affirmative Action Office Records (RG 172), the Student Affairs Records (RG 102), and the Women's Center Records (RG 243). There are also PCOSW records in the record group for the President's Office Records (RG 013), and the Oregon State University Child Care Records (RG 280).

Preferred Citation: President's Commission on the Status of Women Records (RG 159), Oregon State University Special Collections and Archives Research Center, Corvallis, Oregon.

Finding Aid Revision History: This finding aid replaces an earlier version created in 2003.


Oregon State University. President's Commission on the Status of Women
Oregon State University. Women's Center

People, Places, and Topics

Ms. OSU Pageant
Oregon Multicultural Archives
Oregon State University--Faculty.
Oregon State University. Faculty Senate
Oregon State University. President's Commission on the Status of Women
Oregon State University. Women's Center
Sexual harassment in universities and colleges--Oregon--Corvallis.
University History
Women--Education (Higher)--Oregon--Corvallis.
Women--Social conditions.
Women employees--United States--History.

Box and Folder Listing

Series 1: Organizational Records, 1972-2010
Series 1 is comprised of records documenting the structure and mission of the President's Commission on the Status of Women, including by-laws, constitutions, membership lists, and meeting minutes and agendas.
Box-Folder 1.1: By-laws and constitutions, 2005-2008
Box-Folder 1.2: Membership lists, 1972-2010
Box-Folder 1.3: Membership packets, 2006-2008
Box-Folder 1.4: Mission statements, 1972-1998
Box-Folder 1.5: Organizational histories, 2003-2008
Box-Folder 1.6: Strategic action plan, 2007
Sub-Series 1: Meeting Minutes and Agendas, 1973-2010
Box-Folder 1.7: 1973 - 1988
Box-Folder 1.8: 1988 - 1991
Box-Folder 1.9: 1991 - 1992
Box-Folder 1.10: 1992 - 1993
Box-Folder 2.1: 1994 - 1995
Box-Folder 2.2: 1995 - 1996
Box-Folder 2.3: 1997 - 1998
Box-Folder 2.4: 2004 - 2007
Box-Folder 2.5: 2008 - 2010
Series 2: Correspondence, 1971-2010
Comprised of correspondence, this series also includes reports sent as attachments to correspondence. In addition to documenting the day-to-day administration of the Commission in areas such as membership selection and the organization of events and workshops, this series also reflects PCOSW's interaction with other OSU departments and programs.
Box-Folder 2.6: General, 1971-1977
Box-Folder 2.7: General, 1981-1985
Box-Folder 3.1: General, 1985-1987
Box-Folder 3.2: General, 1988-1989
Box-Folder 3.3: General, 1990-1991
Box-Folder 3.4: General, 1991-1992
Box-Folder 3.5: General, 1992-1993
Box-Folder 4.1: General, 1993-1994
Box-Folder 4.2: General, 1994-1995
Box-Folder 4.3: General, 1995-1996
Box-Folder 4.4: General, 1996-1998
Box-Folder 4.5: General, 2000-2010
Box-Folder 4.6: Intercollegiate Athletics Department controversy, 1996
Box-Folder 4.7: Membership, 1995-1996
Box-Folder 4.8: Survey on the President's Commission on the Status of Women, 1997
Box-Folder 4.9: Workshop: Barriers to Mobility for Women, 1995-1996
Series 3: Committees and Task Forces, 1973-2007
Series 3 contains documentation of the activities and meetings of PCOSW committees and subcommittees. The issues addressed by these committees include: faculty child care needs, lack of women faculty, the prevalence of sexual harassment on campus, campus lighting and other safety issues, and gender disparities among the graduate student population. The committees for promotion and tenure, and recruitment, comprise a large portion of this series.
Box-Folder 4.10: Campus Life sub-committee, 1991
Box-Folder 4.11: Education committee, 1973-1974
Box-Folder 4.12: Employment committee, 1973-1974
Box-Folder 4.13: Faculty Concerns sub-committee, 1990-1991
Box-Folder 4.14: Faculty Recruitment and Retention sub-committee, 1992-1994
Box-Folder 4.15: Family and Parental Concerns sub-committee, 1993-1996
Box-Folder 5.1: Graduate Student sub-committee, 1993-1996
Box-Folder 5.2: Institutional Services and Practices committee, 1993
Box-Folder 5.3: Long-range Planning Commission, Women's Task Force, 1985-1986
Box-Folder 5.4: President's Commission on the Prevention of Hate-related Activities, 1994-1997
Box-Folder 5.5: Professional Development and Climate Issues sub-committee, 1997
Box-Folder 5.6: Promotion and Tenure committee, 2004-2007
Box-Folder 5.7: Recruitment and Retention of Women Faculty sub-committee, 1989-1990
Box-Folder 5.8: Research Assistant (unclassified) committee, 1980-1981
Box-Folder 5.9: Salary Equity Planning committee, 1995
Box-Folder 5.10: Safety committee, 1979-1988
Box-Folder 5.11: Sexual Harassment Task Force, 1985
Box-Folder 5.12: Staff Development committee, 1988-1991
Box-Folder 5.13: Staff Development Award sub-committee, 1992-1993
Box-Folder 5.14: Staff Development Award sub-committee, 1994-1996
Box-Folder 5.15: Student Issues sub-committee, 1990-1991
Box-Folder 5.16: Task Force for Classified Female Employees, circa 1984
Box-Folder 5.17: Women's Advancement and Gender Equity (WAGE), 2009
Box-Folder 5.18: Women in Science Task Force, 1985-1986
Box-Folder 6.1: Women's Issues Task Force, 1986-1987
Box-Folder 6.2: Women on Committees Task Force, undated
Box-Folder 6.3: Women's Studies Program Review sub-committee, 1988-1991
Series 4: Reports and Studies, 1971-2007
The reports and studies included in this series primarily document the work of various PCOSW standing and ad hoc committees and task forces. Subjects covered in these reports include: the status of women in the Oregon System of Higher Education, availability of child care, women and philanthropy, the salary gap between men and women in academia, OSU graduate assistantships, OSU staff morale, and the OSU Women's Center.
Box-Folder 6.4: Achieving Parity for Women at OSU, 1994
Box-Folder 6.5: Annual Reports, 1990-1991
Box-Folder 6.6: Campus Climate, 2005
Box-Folder 6.7: Child Care Task Force Final Report, 1985
Box-Folder 6.8: Concept paper: Women and Philanthropy, 1993
Box-Folder 6.9: Faculty Salary Study, preliminary report, 1979
Box-Folder 6.10: Graduate Assistantships at OSU, 1989
Box-Folder 6.11: Head-count Study (Subcommittee on Faculty Women), 1986
Box-Folder 6.12: Institutional Procedures and Criteria for Program Redirection, Reorganization, Reduction, and Termination, 1992
Box-Folder 6.13: Institutional Self-study on Sex Equity, 1986
Box-Folder 6.14: Office of Women's Studies, Interim reports, 1973-1974
Box-Folder 6.15: OSSHE Equity / Fairness Workshop report, 1985
Box-Folder 6.16: OSU Staff Morale Survey, 1990
Box-Folder 6.17: Parent Needs Assessment, 2007
Box-Folder 6.18: Parity Research and Reports (other universities), 1995-1999
Box-Folder 6.19: Path to Parity: Progress report, 2004
Box-Folder 7.1: Promoting Women's Participation in Higher Education: The Status of Women in OSSHE, 1992
Box-Folder 7.2: Promotion and Tenure Summary Reports, 1995-1996
Box-Folder 7.3: The Status of Women Academic Staff at OSU, 1971
Box-Folder 7.4: Women's Center Benton Annex Strategic Plan, 1993-1994
Series 5: Ephemera and Newspaper Clippings, 1988-2010
The ephemera in this series includes brochures for PCOSW and the Women's Center, and flyers and announcement for PCOSW events and open staff and faculty positions. Subjects addressed in the news clippings include: the Ms. OSU Pageant, Playboy Magazine's recruitment of OSU students for its annual PAC-10 pictorial, fraternity t-shirt controversy, and the neglect of date rape cases.
Box-Folder 7.5: Brochures and announcements, 1988-1995
Box-Folder 7.6: Brochures, 2007-2010
Box-Folder 7.7: News clippings: General, 1992-1995
Box-Folder 7.8: News clippings: Intercollegiate Athletics Department controversy, 1995-1996
Box-Folder 7.9: News clippings: Playboy magazine recruitment on campus, 1993
Box-Folder 7.10: News clippings: Ms. OSU Pageant, 1991-1992

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