Retiring professor praised for leadership and impact
Women’s and Gender Studies would like to honour Dr. Anne Forrest for her years of esteemed service to the Program and to the University of Windsor on the announcement of her retirement and promotion to emerita status. Dr. Forrest was a pioneer in the creation of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at the University of Windsor and served as its Director for over twenty years. Dr. Forrest received many honours throughout her distinguished career. In 1998, she won the University of Windsor President’s Equity Award and in 1999, she was named Windsor Woman of the Year in part for her visionary leadership in introducing Women’s and Gender Studies programming on campus. In 2015, Dr. Forrest was recognized for her dedication to and promotion of equity and accessibility with the receipt of the Mary Lou Dietz Equity Leadership Award. Her many educational collaborations and innovations earned her the inaugural University of Windsor Educational Leadership Award in 2019.
A distinct collaborative leadership style has been the hallmark of Dr. Forrest’s numerous accomplishments, one of the most significant of which is the establishment of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Working with other feminist academics on campus, Dr. Forrest developed the program from a few course offerings to a robust Bachelor of Arts program in Women’s and Gender Studies which at its height drew an enrollment of almost 200 majors/combined majors, distinguishing the University of Windsor as one of the largest Women’s and Gender Studies programs in Canada. The Combined Bachelor of Social Work in Social Work and Women’s Studies Program is the first and currently still the only degree program of its kind in North America. Dr. Forrest’s tireless effort and her championing of Women’s and Gender Studies is unparalleled. Upon stepping down from directorship in Women’s and Gender Studies, Dr. Forrest continued to invest in and contribute to the University and Women’s and Gender Studies by steering the development of programs in Work and Employment Issues and Social Justice Studies.
In 2008, Dr. Forrest, along with Dr. Charlene Senn, introduced and institutionalized the innovative Bystander Initiative to Mitigate Sexual Assault (BI) – a sexual assault prevention programming that has garnered international attention and placed the University of Windsor at the cutting edge of violence prevention. She secured funding and institutional supports for violence prevention through integrating the program into the curriculum and the University’s Strategic Mandate Agreement with the Province. In this way, BI workshops became available to all first-year students, helping them develop skills to safely and effectively intervene to disrupt the behaviours that contribute to sexual violence perpetration. This earned the University of Windsor the number one spot in MacLean's magazine’s annual university rankings in the category of efforts to prevent sexual assault for multiple years.
Working closely with Friends of Women’s Studies, Dr. Forrest sought to ground Women’s and Gender Studies curriculum in community perspectives and concerns through the annual Distinguished Visitors program. In addition, Dr. Forrest worked tirelessly to create opportunities outside of the classroom for students to engage with social issues and gain confidence and self-esteem through activities such as the Young Feminist on Campus event series and support for the Take Back the Night March. Dr. Forrest has also earned a reputation as an accessible, caring, and engaged mentor of students, junior faculty and colleagues. Moreover, many of us have relied on her guidance and counsel derived from the wisdom of years of experience negotiating the institution and working with diverse people.
Dr. Forrest has been an important and impactful leader and mentor on campus, and her retirement from daily campus life will be keenly felt by those who know her well. However, we wish her the best in this new chapter in her life. For we also know that she will continue to remain an active champion of equity in the community as a feminist scholar and activist. Congratulations, Anne!