Gay will begin her three-year tenure Sept. 20, which will start with a public conversation centered around Roe v. Wade and marriage and trans equality.
The chair is a collaboration among the Rutgers School of Communication and Information; the Institute for Women’s Leadership; and the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies within the School of Arts and Sciences.
“I am truly honored to serve as the new Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair at Rutgers,” Gay said in a prepared statement on her appointment. “I walk and work in the footsteps of the many feminists and womanists who came before me, and Gloria is one of the giants among those women. I look forward to joining and contributing to a vibrant intellectual community both on and beyond campus.”
Jonathan Potter, the outgoing SC&I dean, said Gay “is incisive, analytic, disruptive, and comfortable challenging authorities of all kinds. What a perfect match for Rutgers. I look forward to seeing her stir up the thinking of the next generation of students.”
In her role, Gay will lead workshops to explore writing on cultural criticism, trauma, creating change and writing across difference.
“Being in a classroom with Roxane Gay is an extraordinary opportunity for students to grow as writers and amplify their voices as a force for social transformation,” said Rebecca Mark, IWL director.
Gay has authored several books, including New York Times bestsellers “Bad Feminist” and “Hunger,” along with “Difficult Women,” “Ayiti,” and “An Untamed State.”
She holds a doctorate in rhetoric and technical communication from Michigan Technological University and has years of experience writing at institutions of higher education. She served as a presidential fellow in the Women and Gender Studies Department at Yale University in 2019, teaching a course on writing trauma. She’s also taught at Occidental College, Michigan Technological University, Florida Atlantic University, Eastern Illinois University and Purdue University, where she received tenure.
Dafna Lemish, the incoming interim dean and Distinguished Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at SC&I, chaired the selection committee for the position. She noted Gay was chosen from an outstanding pool of candidates.
“We are so excited to welcome Roxane,” Lemish said. “Her appointment is timely, as she serves as a wonderful role model of resilience, dedication to social justice, and the value of being community-engaged. I have no doubt that Roxane will be inspirational and transformative for our campus. I can hardly wait for her to join us.”
The Steinem chair endowment was established to serve as a tribute to the groundbreaking leadership of Gloria Steinem. It’s funded by more than 425 donors including a dozen foundations; and was created to honor, retain and recruit scholars and practitioners who will help immerse the university community in debate and scholarship about new media, social change, and power structures.
The chair launched in September 2018, with Canadian author Naomi Klein serving as the inaugural occupant.