by Angela Hubler
This spring, Dr. Torry Dickinson retired after serving the Department of Women’s Studies, and Kansas State University as a whole, with commitment and passion, for 20 years. Torry earned her bachelor of arts degree in Sociology from Livingston-Rutgers University in 1975, her master’s degree in Sociology from Binghamton University in 1977, a master’s certificate in Women and Public Policy from SUNY Albany in 1983, and her Ph.D. in Sociology from Binghamton University in 1983. After earning her doctorate, Torry monitored the court-ordered consent decree to increase women in the Forest Service in California, served as Coordinator of the Displaced Homemakers Center, and was the Executive Director for the Association for Women in Science. She taught as an instructor in Women’s Studies at California State University, Sacramento and at the University of California-Santa Cruz in Sociology. In 1996, Torry joined the faculty of Kansas State University as the first tenure-track assistant professor in Women’s Studies. She was promoted to full professor in 2008.Torry has been integrally involved in the growth of the Women’s Studies Program, as we moved from a secondary major to a major, and from a program to a department. In addition, Torry was a co-founder of the Campaign for Nonviolence, which developed numerous programs to prevent violence on campus and in the community. Torry also worked to develop the Certificate in Nonviolence Studies, and taught the capstone course for the certificate. She was the recipient of the Campaign for Nonviolence Award for her work on behalf of peace. Her work to promote diversity at the university was recognized by the Martin Luther King Award.
Torry is respected and loved as a challenging and supportive teacher. She has mentored countless students, at both the undergraduate and graduate level, who have gone on to careers in academia, fair trade, advocacy on behalf of women, and countless other fields. Torry taught a wide variety of creative and rigorous undergraduate and graduate courses, many of which incorporated service learning, allowing students to apply in the community what they learn in their coursework. Torry also directed the Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies, served on dozens of master’s and doctoral committees throughout the university, and acted as an undergraduate advisor. Her dedication to her students was recognized by two Women in Science “You Make a Difference” Awards.
Torry’s book and article publications develop an ambitious historical analysis of the ways in which global capitalist economic restructuring and the loss of state authority have changed the lives of women and men. This analysis began with her first monograph, Commonwealth: Self-Sufficiency and Work in American Communities, 1830-1993 and continued in Fast Forward: Work, Gender, and Protest in a Changing World, co-authored with Dr. Robert Shaeffer. Dickinson and Shaeffer also co-authored Transformations: Feminist Pathways to Global Change: an analytic anthology. Dickinson also edited Community and the World: Participating in Social Change; and co-edited Democracy Works: Joining Theory and Action to Foster Global Social Change, with Terrie Beccerra, a doctoral candidate in Sociology. Torry’s research-in-progress includes a novel, a monograph on community development in Detroit, and several articles on women’s work in historical perspective.
Torry served on numerous departmental and university committees, including the College Committee on Planning, and as a member of the International Studies Program. Her research on the significance of women’s involvement in community-based social change informs her participation in activist organizations in Manhattan and elsewhere. She served as the diversity director for the Manhattan Chapter of the American Association of University Women, as member of the board for The National Conversation on Race, as campus liason for Girl Scouts Beyond Bars, built houses for Habitat for Humanity, and worked with the Manhattan Living Wage Coalition and too many other organizations to list here.
Torry’s many and outstanding contributions to the intellectual life of the university and community are appreciated by her many friends, students and colleagues who commend her upon her distinguished career. She will be deeply missed.