Author to help celebrate Women’s History Month at St. Thomas

New York Times columnist and author Gail Collins will speak at the 18th annual Luann Dummer Lecture Series in celebration of Women’s History Month.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. March 8 in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium and is free and open to the public.

Collins will lead an additional seminar in the afternoon before the event with students studying journalism, political science and women’s studies.

A reception with a book sale and signing will follow the evening presentation.

Collins will speak about her latest book, “When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women From 1960 to the Present.”

Collins is most known as the first-ever female editor of the Times’ editorial page from 2001 until 2007, when she stepped down to finish her book.

Pat Alexander, Luann Dummer Center for Women administrative assistant, said the bookstore is getting a large order of Collins’ book in honor of the lecture. The women’s center also sponsored three informal discussions in the weeks leading up to the lecture.

Alexander said that even though Collins writes about many well-known modern women, the stories of everyday women and how their lives changed interested discussion participants the most.

Senior Lindsay Schwab, women’s center assistant, attended the discussions.

“Women’s studies has always been something I’ve been very passionate about,” Schwab said.

The discussions were a mix of students and faculty members.

“Hearing what some of the older faculty members [who] had actually lived through some of the events [that Collins writes about] had to say really added a lot to the discussion and made the book more real,” Schwab said.

Corrine Carvalho, Luann Dummer Center for Women director, said she recommended Collins to the advisory board that chooses the March speaker after multiple people expressed interest after reading Collins’ book.

“We always look for someone [who] has a big enough name that’s going to draw people in, but somebody who really is focused on women and the way gender changes the way we look at things,” Carvalho said.

Luann Dummer, a former English professor at St. Thomas, endowed the center. In her will, Dummer said one major event for the center would be the Women’s History Month speaker.

“Luann taught here when it was all male, so she was bothered by the fact that we had so few, if any, woman speakers on campus,” Carvalho said. “This is a way to guarantee that we get a major female scholar speaking about women’s issues.”

Faculty who knew Dummer personally have made sure the event has stayed at the core of the center and Women’s History Month.

“We always take whoever our main speaker is, and we think about our year-long programming related to the speaker’s topic, so this year we’ve really focused on women in history,” Carvalho said.

Theology professor Sherry Jordon spoke earlier this year about women and the Reformation and history professor Anne Klejment spoke about Dorothy Day.

Carvalho said Collins’ book would even be a great summer read.

“I find a lot of my students don’t know how recently some things have changed that are part of their lives now, and that’s what this book is about so I really encourage students to pick it up,” Carvalho said.

Rita Kovtun can be reached at