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Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for Lesbian Studies

The University of Oregon and its Department of Women’s and Gender Studies is pleased to announce a new fund for lesbian studies which will advance lesbian history and culture, promote dialogue about sexual orientation and gender identity, support diversity and empower lesbian voices in higher education.

Icon of Sally Gearhart's headshot

The Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for lesbian studies, created in honor of Sally Miller Gearhart — professor, author and activist, will promote research and teaching in lesbian studies through an annual lecture series and, eventually, an endowed professorship. The Gearhart Fund will enable the Women’s and Gender Studies Department (WGS) at the University of Oregon to bring outstanding scholars to campus to discuss their work on topics such as gender and identity and its relationship to equality and social justice. Through public lectures, events and activities the fund will disseminate research and increase awareness of lesbian studies. Students, faculty and the greater community will benefit from the expertise of visiting scholars. Such dialogue will promote diversity and greatly enrich the department’s overall mission to grow and enhance research and teaching in the area of gay and lesbian studies. Just this year, the department launched a new Queer Studies minor, one of the few across the country.


The Sally Miller Gearhart Fund has been made possible by a challenge gift of $25,000 from Carla Blumberg, long-time friend of Gearhart and fan of WGS at the UO. To date, we’ve raised $15,000 to meet Carla’s challenge. Just $10,000 is needed to build a permanent endowment and provide a lasting voice for lesbian studies in higher education in Oregon. Carla has also pledged to include the university in her will to one day create the Sally Miller Gearhart Professorship in Lesbian Studies. Carla’s commitment will position UO as one of the few universities in the country with such a dedication to sexuality scholarship. Sally and Carla tell their story of the Gearhart Fund in a summer 2009 article in Oregon Outlook.

Picture of Sally Gearhart and Carla Blumberg

With the private contributions raised to date, Women’s and Gender Studies hosted the first annual Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies on May 27, 2009. The lecture, entitled The Incredibly Shrinking Lesbian World and Other Queer Conundra featured prominent scholar and author Arlene Stein, of Rutgers University. Stein is the author of three books and the editor of two collections of essays including Sex and Sensibility: Stories of a Lesbian Generation. The first Sally Miller Gearhart Lecture in Lesbian Studies attracted a full house — community members, faculty, staff and students. Subsequently, Arlene Stein published her work in the Journal of Sexualities with reference to her presentation, the inaugural presentation of the Sally Miller Gearhart Fund. [Download Arlene Stein’s article, “The Incredible Shrinking Lesbian World and other Queer Conundra”]

We look forward to building on this incredible activity and momentum. We hope to build the Sally Miller Gearhart endowment and fulfill Carla’s challenge to raise $25,000. We are looking for leadership support to help us toward our goal. We invite you to join us with a gift of $1,000 or more in this special campaign to build a foundation for lesbian studies at the UO and promote diversity and awareness of gender and identity in Oregon.

Invest in Lesbian Studies at the UO – please indicate Sally Miller Gearhart fund in the ‘Gift instructions’ box.

For more information about making a gift to support the Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for lesbian studies, please contact Kat Walsch at 541-346-0607 or via e-mail at