"Nuns on the Bus" Organizer to Speak April 3
“Nuns on the Bus” organizer Sister Simone Campbell will be the keynote speaker for Fairfield University’s celebration of the 40th anniversary of undergraduate women graduating from Fairfield and the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Studies Program (now called Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies). You’re invited to her free lecture, “The View from the Bus: Opportunities for Making Mischief,” at 7 p.m., Thursday, April 3, at the Regina A. Quick Center for the Arts. The lecture will be preceded by a gala reception at 6 p.m. in the Quick Center lobby.
“We are thrilled to have Sister Campbell on campus to mark this significant milestone in the history of the University and our interdisciplinary program,” said Dr. David Gudelunas, co-director of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies (WGS). “Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies is one of the most dynamic programs on campus and we couldn’t think of a more dynamic speaker to help us celebrate with faculty, students, community members, and hundreds of graduates of our program.”
Sister Campbell is an attorney, religious leader, and renowned advocate for systematic change. She is the executive director of NETWORK, a Catholic leader in the global movement for justice and peace, which educates, lobbies, and organizes for economic and social transformation. In Washington, Sister Campbell lobbies for issues of peace-building, immigration reform, and healthcare and economic justice.
During the 2010 congressional debate about healthcare reform, Sister Campbell wrote the famous “nuns’ letter” supporting the reform bill and got 59 leaders of Catholic Sisters to sign, a sign seen by many as critical to the passage of the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, she was instrumental in organizing the “Nuns on the Bus” tour of nine states to oppose a budget she felt would decimate programs to help people in need. She recently completed another cross-country Nuns on the Bus tour in 2013 focused on immigration reform.
Sister Campbell has been a keynote or featured speaker in many national events, including the 2012 Democratic National Convention. She has appeared on “60 Minutes,” “The Colbert Report” and “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” among other media stints.
Sister Campbell is the former executive director of Jericho, a California interfaith public policy organization and she was the general director of her religious community, the Sisters of Social Service, leading sisters in the United States, Mexico, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
“Since its founding in 1942, Fairfield University's Jesuit and lay faculty, staff, and administrators have had marvelous partnerships with Women Religious in Fairfield County and beyond,” said the Rev. Paul Fitzgerald, S.J., Fairfield’s senior vice president for academic affairs. “We have advanced educational, health care, and other corporal works of mercy. It will be our honor to welcome Sister Simone Campbell to campus to help us to reflect upon the good works we have done and to recommit to good works in the future, with a preferential option for the poor and the marginalized.”
Sister Campbell’s appearance is the centerpiece of the yearlong 40/20 celebration on campus. Though professional schools admitted women students before the 1970s, the first class of women undergraduates walked across the Bellarmine Hall terrace at Commencement in 1974. Since then, female students have gone on to many leadership roles on campus and many successful careers after graduating from Fairfield.
“News of Sister Campbell’s visit has been met with great enthusiasm and meaningful support across the university,” said Dr. Emily Orlando, co-director of WGS. “ The WGS minor is flourishing and given Sister Campbell’s demonstrated commitment to social justice and her status as a strong female leader and advocate for change within the Catholic church, she struck us as an ideal choice for a celebration of the WGS program in particular and the achievements of Fairfield University women in general. We are so pleased that this event has been met with such widespread support from all corners of campus.”
WGS is an interdisciplinary program that challenges the cultural, intellectual, social, and political assumptions about sex, gender, and sexuality systems. Courses in the program critically engage issues of race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, and other key components of identity, and the ways they intersect. The program was first developed by a group of faculty who met over the two years from fall 1991 to spring 1993 to first envision and then write the proposal for the program. The program was formally approved and inaugurated in fall 1993.
"At Fairfield University, where women now comprise more than half of our student population and where we have worked to achieve gender parity among faculty, we are proud of the presence, many contributions, and ongoing leadership of women,” said Dr. Robbin Crabtree, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “The Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program at Fairfield plays a very important role in these achievements.”
For more information, visit www.fairfield.edu/4020 and follow the WGS program on Twitter @WGSFairfield.