News | 16 September 2021

Felicity Schaeffer Named Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair For Feminist Studies



Felicity Amaya Schaeffer

Feminist Studies professor Felicity Amaya Schaeffer has been appointed as the new Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation Presidential Chair for Feminist Studies.

The endowed chair was established in 2017 with a $500,000 gift from the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation and matching funds from the UC Regents. The appointment is for a three-year period, running through June 30, 2024. 

The president of the University of California supports Presidential Chairs on each of the 10 UC campuses through an endowment established in 1981 by the UC Regents.

The positions are offered to distinguished members of the university’s faculty and are intended to encourage new or interdisciplinary program development or to enhance quality in existing academic programs.

Schaeffer said funds from the endowed chair will help support research and teaching in feminist studies, graduate and undergraduate students, and campus events.

“During my three-year term, I plan to use the funds to address the most pressing issues relevant to our department’s focus on social justice in a transnational world,” said Schaeffer. “For example, with the support of our graduate student Halima Kazem and faculty and staff from across campus, we are working on bringing a Visiting Scholar from Afghanistan who has fought for the rights of women and girls in education, health, the academy, and government.” 

“This is an unusual opportunity to reflect on the U.S. role in militarized empire and policing around the world and the effects it has on the most outspoken and vulnerable populations,” she added. “I can see us building courses and planning events that help us understand these complex political climates in a historical, comparative, and critical context that thinks about the relations between war, policing, and ICE as it affects those on the ground, as well as the activism that is sending rippling changes in how we imagine a better future.” 

Schaeffer says she plans to continue the legacy of Professor Bettina Aptheker who was the inaugural Chair of the Baskin Endowment from 2017 to 2021.

“During her stewardship, Professor Aptheker brought many prominent scholars and activists to campus to inspire new ways of understanding the long history of sexual assault on women and racial and gendered struggle for rights. Like Aptheker, I intend to enrich the campus intellectual community by bringing inspiring voices from the margins to center stage. And I plan on continuing to organize events that bring the campus and surrounding communities around Santa Cruz together to showcase how our department can work with these broader communities to effect changes that touch all of our lives.” 

A professor in the Feminist Studies Department for over 16 years, Schaeffer has played a key role in supporting the Baskin Feminist Scholars Program, also funded by the Peggy and Jack Baskin Foundation and now entering its 5th year at UCSC.

“I am passionate about the many ways the Feminist faculty deeply alter conversations across many fields of knowledge, especially driven by our commitment to thinking about the structural conditions and knowledges that reinforce inequalities,” said Schaeffer. “With the support of the Baskin Endowed Chair, we have the opportunity to create events that share our critical insight and hope for radically different futures with the campus as well as the broader community of Santa Cruz.”

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