Liz Wilkinson, English professor
Mark Brown / University of St. Thomas

Luann Dummer Center for Women Names Dr. Elizabeth Wilkinson as New Director

The Luann Dummer Center for Women (LDCW) at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota has appointed Dr. Elizabeth Wilkinson to serve as the next director of the center. Her directorship will begin on July 1, 2024.

Liz Wilkinson headshot

Wilkinson, who has been at St. Thomas since 2008, is an associate professor in the Department of English and teaches women, gender, and sexuality studies as well as in the area of American culture and difference. She served as the interim director of Women’s Studies in 2017 and was an interim director at the university’s Center for Writing.

Wilkinson's colleagues say that she is deeply invested in feminist scholarship, committed to the interdisciplinary approaches foundational to women, gender, and sexuality studies, and attuned to the framework of intersectionality. 

“Her expertise will shape the programmatic direction and institutional culture of the LDCW,” said Dr. Shaherzad Ahmadi, an associate professor of history at St. Thomas who served a one-year appointment as director during the 2023-24 academic year.  

“During my time as director of the Luann Dummer Center for Women, as well as my term on the Center's Advisory Board, I have been privileged to benefit from Dr. Elizabeth Wilkinson’s intellectual rigor and critical engagement,” Ahmadi said. “As an active scholar and mentor, she is interested in establishing connections across campus with others committed to our mission. I know she will invigorate the students, faculty, and staff, who have built a vibrant community at the center – a community she has personally cultivated and nurtured for many years. I look forward to her leadership as the next director of the LDCW.” 

Wilkinson, who will become the eighth director of the center, said, “I am thrilled to step into the role of director of the Luann Dummer Center for Women and so very grateful for all of the amazing work Dr. Shaherzad Ahmadi has done this past year. The LDCW is a vital part of our St. Thomas campus community and, continuing the positive contributions of the center, will guide me in the next two years at the helm.” 

Liz Wilkinson

A lifelong athlete and lover of words, Wilkinson followed a circuitous path to the director position. At Penn State, where she received her undergraduate degree and her first master’s degree, she juggled D-I sports in springboard diving with a degree in English writing. She then married those two loves in her first job as a sports reporter. 

“I returned first to Penn State and then to Virginia Tech for master’s degrees: education followed by English. At Virginia Tech, I was lucky to be mentored by two Cherokee professors, who guided my research on Native American literatures.” For her doctorate in English at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, she said an all-female team of professors fostered her interest in Native women’s rhetoric and prompted her receiving a certification in women and gender studies.

“Feminism came a bit later, but is all the more cherished for it,” she said. “At St. Thomas, my love for women, gender, and sexuality studies has blossomed and my love for sports literature has reemerged.”

At St. Thomas, she is part of the team of professors who will launch the sports studies minor in fall 2024. She teaches sports literature, including ENGL 341: Women, Sport, and the Body, as well as women’s literatures, Native American literatures and the popular course WGSS 205: Foundations in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. 

She also values collaboration with her students, including after they graduate. Her latest publication, “Teaching and Learning Critical Ecofeminism in (and outside of) the Graduate Classroom,” an article for Gender and Education, was co-written with four of her former graduate students. They are currently working on a book based on their work together. Individually, she is writing an article that investigates the influence of women’s sports on the fight for women’s rights at the turn of the 20th century, as well as an autoethnographic manuscript on women and sport.

“I believe strongly in the interconnected physical and intellectual self, and I believe that self exists within an interconnected web of community,” she said. “To that end, I compete in the YWCA Women’s Triathlon every August and hope to create opportunities for others to find their fun in their own athletic endeavors!”

The Luann Dummer Center for Women, which launched in 1993, addresses the needs and aspirations of women, is hailed as a hub for feminist discourse and activism for the entire St. Thomas community through its sponsorship of countless events and programs, and through its partnerships with many branches across the campus. The center’s educational programs, activities and resources are open to students, faculty and staff of the university.