Sharon Bird and Maria del Guadalupe “Lupe” Davidson will join the faculty at WVU 's Eberly College of Arts and Sciences to lead research and teaching initiatives surrounding gender diversity and social justice.

New leadership in West Virginia University’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies is expanding research and teaching initiatives surrounding gender diversity and social justice.

Sharon Bird, professor and head of sociology at Oklahoma State University, has been named the Center’s director and a professor of women’s and gender studies.

Maria del Guadalupe “Lupe” Davidson, associate professor and chair of women’s and gender studies and co-director for the Center for Social Justice at the University of Oklahoma, will join WVU as the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences’ director and academic coordinator for social justice affairs and Woodburn Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Bird and Davidson begin their roles in fall 2019.

“Augmenting and enhancing our women’s and gender studies programming and scholarship is a priority for the Eberly College, as is advancing our efforts more generally in all areas of diversity and inclusivity.

When I met these scholars, I recognized their leadership experience and motivations and felt they would be the right individuals for these important roles,” said Gregory Dunaway, dean of the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences. “Our College aspires to lead in these areas. We are working to be at the forefront of these issues, and we have the leadership in place to do so.”

As the center’s director, Bird’s immediate priorities are growing WVU’s undergraduate major in women’s and gender studies, engaging faculty in research and exploring the possibility of a graduate degree.

“I am excited to focus my energy and sociological training on growing women’s and gender studies at WVU,” Bird said. “I look forward to developing collaborative relationships to support social justice scholarship, teaching and outreach across the campus and the state.”

Bird brings extensive higher education administrative experience leading academic departments and other academic and research initiatives to the position.

In addition to her leadership of the sociology department at Oklahoma State, she served as program director for the National Science Foundation’s ADVANCE program to promote, recruit and retain women faculty in STEM and the NSF Alliances for Graduate Education for the Professoriate program, which supports students and faculty of color in those fields.

At Iowa State University, Bird was professor of sociology, research director and co-investigator on the University’s NSF ADVANCE award and faculty affiliate in women’s and gender studies and African American Studies.

Bird received a Ph.D. in sociology from Washington State University. Her research and teaching interests include social inequality, work and organizations, race and ethnic relations, enhancing diversity in higher education, sociological and gender theory and research and evaluation methods. In 2016, she received the Lessen Prize for Research on Teaching and Learning from the American Association of Philosophy Teachers.

As the Eberly College’s academic collaborator for social justice affairs, Davidson will be an adviser to the Office of the Dean on social justice and diversity issues. She will also serve as a liaison to the Eberly College’s academic departments as well as to the University and the community for social justice consultation, programming, curricula and events.

“I look forward to moving to Morgantown this summer,” Davidson said. “I am excited to work with members of the community on social justice initiatives, capacity building and sustainability and thinking creatively about how to measure engaged research and teaching.”

Davidson received a Ph.D. in rhetoric from Duquesne University. Her scholarship and teaching interests include black feminist theory, rhetorical theory and criticism and Africana philosophical thought.

She has led a study abroad course in Uganda on “Women Creating Social Change” and “Africa in Context” related to her interdisciplinary, collaborative research in the region. Her co-edited book with George Yancey and Susan Hadley, “Our Black Sons Matter: Mothers Talk about Fears, Sorrows and Hopes” was named one of the American Library Association’s Top 10 Diverse Nonfiction Books of 2016.