The Women’s Studies Program at UNO began in the early 1970s with the development of the first women’s history course. More courses developed as issues within the field of women’s studies progressed, and the program began offering a minor by 1988. As interest in the program grew and the number of students increased, the validity of apportioning a major in women’s studies became viable. Professors such as Mary Ann Lamanna, Dr. Falconer Al-Hindi, and several other faculty members developed the major, with Lamanna receiving valuable time to create and implement the program. In 2000, the University Board of Regents approved a Women’s Studies Major. Falconer Al-Hindi cites the demand from students for such a major as well as wide community support as driving forces behind its development. As Falconer Al-Hindi attests, “The program is designed to prepare students for graduate or professional work in fields in which Women’s Studies has an important focus such as social services, criminal justice and health professionals” (Harvey 1). Dr. Falconer Al-Hindi served as Interim Director of the Women’s Studies Program until University administrators conducted a national search for a permanent director. Falconer Al-Hindi was one of three finalists for the position, and in October of 2001, the UNO Board of Regents named her director. According to a colleague, Dr. Susan N. Maher, Falconer Al-Hindi’s “contributions . . . to women’s studies have been transformative” (qtd. in Brown 1). Dr. Maher further attests, “She was an essential member of the faculty team who helped develop, promote and gain the women’s studies major, and when that major was finally a fait accompli, Dr. Falconer Al-Hindi served as our first and only director” (1).
The name of the program was officially changed to the Women’s and Gender Studies Program in 2010 to reflect “where the field is today” (Falconer Al-Hindi). The program homepage describes itself as one ideal for students curious about women’s issues, gender roles, and sexuality. As stated in its mission, the “interdisciplinary program examines the historical and contemporary status of women in all societies; explores the diverse contributions and voices of women past and present; advocates for women’s issues and promotes equitable communities” (“Mission” 1). Composed of classes from a variety of departments across campus, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program continues to expand. Professors wanting to be recognized as a member of the Women’s Studies and Gender Program must have a “demonstrated interest” in women’s studies and apply for admission to the program. Once the committee approves a professor’s application, their courses can be cross-listed within the program, giving them more exposure.
In addition to her teaching, student and community outreach are important to Dr. Falconer Al-Hindi as well. As a reoccurring theme imbedded in her work, Dr. Falconer Al-Hindi believes community involvement is an essential role of universities that is sometimes threatened by the increasing commodification of higher education. Falconer Al-Hindi insists that colleges can continue this vital link by working together to promote collaboration among professors, students, and citizens. Along with other members of the University faculty, Falconer Al-Hindi has been instrumental in bringing guest speakers such as Dr. Karen Morin of Bucknell University in Pennsylvania and Professor Mona Domosh from Dartmouth College to UNO, as well as entertainment programs such as The Heart’s Compass to fulfill UNO’s outreach mission. Falconer Al-Hindi is also involved in the No Limits! Conference. No Limits! is an interdisciplinary conference on Women’s Studies