NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — So far, the iconic feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem has left her mark on the world in many ways—including through an endowed chair named in her honor at Rutgers University.
The Board of Governors approved a resolution June 15, establishing the $3 million Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies.
Whomever the university selects to take the role will either be an “eminent” scholar or media innovator, according to the resolution and a corresponding news release. That individual will “teach, conduct research and lead discussions on ways to increase the accuracy and diversity of all people” in media, according to the university.
“We know that new media are transforming our governance, and also that they may be short on facts and context,” Steinem, who co-founded Ms. magazine and wrote for various media, most notably New York magazine, said in a statement. “We also know that heritage media haven’t always told an inclusive story.”
Steinem praised Alison Bernstein, who headed Rutgers’ Institute for Women’s Leadership, for coming up with the idea for the chair in 2014 and pushing for its creation until her death in 2016.
Steinem then talked up the university, along with its close proximity to the “media [capital] of the world,” New York City.
“I’m also proud that Rutgers is not only one of the oldest and most respected public universities, but has a student population that looks like the nation,” she said. “I’ve come to believe it’s as good as Harvard—with democracy added.”
More than 425 donors—including various celebrities and business titans—contributed money to the chair’s endowment. The list includes Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, the New York Daily News’ Mortimer Zuckerman and various foundations, such as those of the Ford family, George Lucas and Harvey Weinstein’s family.
The chair is a collaboration among the Institute for Women’s Leadership, the School of Communication and Information and the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies at the School of Arts and Sciences, according to the news release.
It will benefit students by engaging them in debate and study surrounding new media, social change and power structures, according to the university.
“This chair is a testament to Gloria Steinem’s distinguished career as a journalist, public intellectual and women’s rights activist,” Rutgers President Robert Barchi said in a statement. “The women’s movement has radically changed how we think of issues concerning fairness and equity, and after 50 years, Gloria Steinem remains at the forefront of the feminist cause.”
Various women in media and business sat on the steering committee, which played a key role in establishing the chair, according to Rutgers.