Chancellor Charles E. Bishop established the Chancellor's Commission on Women's Affairs on December 3, 1973, to address the needs and concerns of women on the University of Maryland, College Park, campus. The Commission, consisting of appointed faculty members, professional staff, classified staff, and graduate and undergraduate students, had the following goals:
- 1. To maintain systematic contact with organizations on the campus concerned with women's affairs to reduce overlap in their functions and encourage discussion among them.
- 2. To serve as a point of contact between the campus and external organizations concerned with women's affairs.
- 3. To identify unique problems faced by women on the College Park campus and propose solutions to them.
While retaining these early goals, the Commission's purpose expanded to include such issues as campus safety, implementation of Title IX in women's athletics, and meeting the needs of working women and women of color in a university environment. The Commission served as a voice for women and women's issues in the university community, advocating equality of rights and representation for all.
The Commission established subcommittees to concentrate efforts on specific issues such as personnel practices, professional growth, needs of returning women students, sexual harassment, child care, and elder care.
Among the major accomplishments of the Commission were the establishment of a day care center on campus, development and enforcement of a sexual harassment policy, and a major study of inequity in faculty salaries on campus. In addition, the Commission sought to insure that non-sexist language was used in all university publications. From 1986 to 1994, the Commission published annual reports regarding the status of women on campus.
All Commission members served in a voluntary capacity. Original members of the Commission included Dr. Virginia Beauchamp, Dr. Vivian Boyd, Dr. Richard Jaquith, and Dr. Margaret Bonz, who served as the first Chairperson. A full list of chairpersons of the commission is appended.
In 1987, the Commission changed its name to the President's Commission on Women's Affairs, and in 1996 it became the President's Commission on Women's Issues. According to a 2001 essay on the Commission's history, "The change from Chancellor to President mirrored a University evolution in language, and the change from affairs to issues resulted from a Commission decision. ‘We weren't having affairs,' explained former Commission Secretary Mary Shipley. Shipley remembered good old boys who asked, ‘Well, are you women having many affairs?'"
Today, the primary mission of the President's Commission on Women's Issues is to advocate for the interests of the entire community of women at the University of Maryland, following closely in the footsteps of the Chancellor's Commission on Women's Affairs.
Chairpersons of the Commission
- Margaret Bonz, 1973-1975
- Judy Sorum, 1975-1977
- Ann Wylie, 1977–1978
- Bonnie Tyler, 1978–1981
- Vicki Freimuth, 1981-1984
- Carol Pearson, 1984-1985
- Diana Jackson, 1985-1987
- Virginia Beauchamp, 1987-1990
- Josephine Withers, 1990-1993
- Maggi Bridwell, 1993-1994
- Javaune Adams-Gaston, 1994-1996
- Nancy Struna, 1996-1998
- Laura G. Slavin, 1998–2000
- Larissa Grunig, 2000–2003
- Laura Nichols, 2003-2005
- Cynthia Hale, 2005-2007
- Donna Wiseman, 2007-present