Commitment to Women

The University of Notre Dame’s mission statement asserts that “the intellectual interchange essential to a university requires, and is enriched by, the presence and voices of diverse scholars and students.” This initially all-male university hired its first female faculty in 1965 and began admitting female undergraduate students in 1972; since then, it has worked hard to support and advance the position of women at all levels.

Nevertheless, Notre Dame, like many top-notch research institutions, continues to face challenges in its ambition to achieve gender balance among its faculty. Though we have come to excel at recruiting female assistant professors, the number of female faculty in the ranks of associate and full professors still lags behind our peers. The good news, though, is that there is a strong administrative will to improve this situation at both the institutional and the college level and to make this a university where women can flourish in all respects. An in-depth study by the University Committee on Women Faculty and Students (commissioned by the Office of the Provost in academic year 2007-08) resulted in two reports and a set of detailed recommendations on ways in which the university could improve its recruitment and retention efforts in regard to women faculty; top university administrators have now taken the findings under advisement.

The College of Arts and Letters has led the way for the university in its often innovative efforts to recruit, support, promote, reward, and retain outstanding women faculty at all ranks as well as in its assignment of women faculty to leadership positions. In fact, the first female dean of any college at the university was Dr. Isabel Charles, who served as Dean of the College of Arts and Letters from 1976 to 1982. Over the past few years, the College leadership has actively sought to engage women faculty in a variety of administrative roles, implemented important new regulations and standards in regard to mentoring and transparency, and developed an innovative and flexible approach to the hiring of new women faculty.

The College now also conducts extensive, in-depth exit interviews with all departing faculty (men and women) in order to learn more about faculty members’ experiences and gain insight into areas of concern that should be addressed in the future. The Best Practices pages in this section explain some of the College’s most important standards and procedures with regard to three key areas relevant to the presence and the well-being of women in the College of Arts and Letters: hiring, mentoring, and service.

Faculty Feature


Julia M. Braungart-Rieker


My journey at Notre Dame began when I interviewed here in November of 1991. Although the weather was formidable that day (snow already covered the ground and the Midwest winds gave a whole new meaning of the word “ blustering...

Faculty Feature


Kasey Buckles


Research, teaching, and service—most research universities evaluate their faculty based on these three criteria. Faculty members looking toward their next promotion fret over them, trying to make sure that they meet the stand...

Faculty Feature


Meredith S. Chesson


At a fundamental level, anthropology is most exciting to me when it helps us to explore the seemingly infinite ways of being human in our world. At the level of the individual and the collective, peoples’ lives are guided by ...

Faculty Feature


Denise Della Rossa

German and Russian Languages and Literatures

The Department of German and Russian is one of the smallest departments in the College of Arts and Letters in terms of both faculty and students. This allows us to function more like a department in a small liberal arts college whe...

Faculty Feature


Julia Douthwaite

Romance Languages and Literatures

As Assistant Provost for International Studies from 2003-09, I traveled frequently to Notre Dame study abroad locations around the world, but it was always with a sigh of pleasure that I returned to home and campus.


Faculty Feature


Elizabeth F. Mazurek


I came to Notre Dame in 1990 as a junior professor in the Department of Classical and Oriental Languages as it was known then. Since that time, the department has evolved to become the Department of Classics, which includes Arabic ...

Faculty Feature


Susannah Monta


I have greatly enjoyed the fact that Notre Dame emphasizes and values undergraduate education so highly even as it strives to become a top-tier research university. I feel that my undergraduate teaching is truly valued here.


Faculty Feature


Marisel Moreno

Romance Languages and Literatures

Given that I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, I could have never imagined that I would end up working and raising my family in South Bend, Indiana. But ten years living and teaching at the University of Notre Dame have...

Faculty Feature


Darcia Narvaez


I am very appreciative of Notre Dame on many fronts. Here are a few.

I appreciate how Notre Dame fosters intellectuals, more so than do many other places. For example, Notre Dame generally offers faculty a great deal of ...

Faculty Feature


Alison Rice

Romance Languages and Literatures

I was drawn to a career in academia because of a strong desire to teach, and Notre Dame provides such a wonderful atmosphere for optimizing the pedagogical experience that I have felt very fulfilled here.

I find that the...