Kansas State University


Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies

Dr. Bonnie Nelson, Former Director of Women’s Studies, Retires

Dr. Bonnie Nelson, former Director of Women’s Studies, and Women’s Studies affiliated faculty member since 1992, retired from the English Department in May 2016.  Throughout her 33 years at Kansas State, Bonnie’s teaching, service, and scholarship reflected her deep commitment to women’s issues.  As chair of the Commission on the Status of Women, she authored a brochure on How To Avoid Sexist Language in the University, which was distributed to every unit on campus. Bonnie was integrally involved in the growth of Women’s Studies, including the the addition of the graduate certificate, minor, and major.  She taught very popular courses including Women in Literature, Jane Austen’s Predecessors, and Restoration and 18th Century Drama.  We are grateful for the mark she has left not just in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies but on the university as a whole. She will be much missed.

More about Bonnie’s career can be found below in her retirement citation, which we share from Dr. Karin Westman, English Department Head.

Bonnie A. Nelson retired in May 2016 after 33 years of service to Kansas State. Bonnie earned her B.A. (1965) and M.A.T. (1967) in English from the City University of New York, and her Ph.D. in English from The Pennsylvania State University (1981). She joined the Department of English as an assistant professor in 1983 in writing and literature, and she pursued both areas in her scholarship and teaching, with increasing attention to literature in subsequent years. Bonnie earned tenure and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1989. Of particular note are her administrative appointments as Director of Technical Writing (1989-1993) and Director of Women’s Studies (1996-1999).

Bonnie’s scholarship in both technical writing and in Restoration and 18th century British literature opened up new lines of inquiry in terms of gender and pedagogy.  These contributions have brought recognition not only to herself but also to the department and the university as a whole. As a teacher, Bonnie has won accolades from students and colleagues throughout her career.  Undergraduate and graduate students have valued her close attention to their writing, her enthusiasm for her subject, and her concern for their academic success. She twice received the Stamey Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Teaching Award (1989, 1990) as well as the department’s SAGE Award for Excellence in Teaching (2009) and its award for Excellence in Advising (2010).

For the college and the university, Bonnie has played a key role in advancing opportunities for women. In her first year, she was appointed to the President’s Commission on the Status of Women, and, since that appointment, has worked tirelessly and with great success to improve the academic and cultural climate for women at Kansas State. In addition to that initial appointment, she served as Chair of the Steering Committee of the Faculty’s Women’s Caucus (1989-1994), having an award named in her honor – the Bonnie Nelson Leadership Award (1994-2004) – to recognize the success of other women faculty and administrators to improve conditions for women on campus. Her advocacy for Women’s Studies has been substantial and long-standing.

With gratitude, we recognize Bonnie’s significant contributions to the fields of technical writing and British literature, to teaching, and to the mission of Kansas State University, and confer on her the title of Associate Professor Emerita of English.

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