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IU Northwest News

Foltz honored for service to others

Sociology professor, WGS director awarded with IU’s W. George Pinnell Award

Friday Apr 07, 2017

By Devyn Blandford
Indiana University Events

Indiana University recognized seven faculty members from around the state for their outstanding contributions to their respective universities and surrounding communities at the Celebration of Outstanding Faculty in Bloomington on March 31.

Among the honorees was Tanice Foltz, professor of sociology and the director of women’s and gender studies at IU Northwest. After a rigorous selection process, colleagues reviewed the nominations and selected Foltz as the recipient of IU’s W. George Pinnell Award for Outstanding Service.

This award honors faculty members considered to be shining examples of dedication and excellence in service to others.

A sociologist, Professor Tanice Foltz has been the energetic director that the IU Northwest Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) Program needed. Hired in 1990 to teach criminology, juvenile delinquency, and social movements, Foltz had an interest in women’s and gender issues that led her to develop several WGS courses and eventually direct the program.

After having served in that position from 2000 to 2003, College of Arts and Sciences Dean Mark Hoyert approached Foltz in fall 2011 and asked her to “save the WGS Program” by once again becoming director, and she has served in that capacity ever since. A hallmark of her leadership has been the integration of scholarship and service, such as coordinating events for the Hass Birky Women’s Center throughout the year. This approach has led to increased student participation and more dynamic WGS events to engage the campus.

A move from theory to action for Foltz is The Clothesline Project, which she co-created in 2009 and took on full time in 2013. “This national project,” Cynthia O’Dell, associate executive vice chancellor for academic affairs, says, “is a way to ‘air one’s dirty laundry’ about gender violence by designing t-shirts that physically represent violence against women.” Students create expressive t-shirts to reflect the kind of violence they have experienced or witnessed, and the colors symbolize different types of violence, ranging from red, representing sexual assault; to blue, correlated with childhood sexual abuse; to purple, representing violence against LGBTQ individuals; and yellow, representing physical abuse.

To date, more than 400 t-shirts have been made by IU Northwest students, and their creations, along with their written comments, comprise data for Foltz’s current research project on student activism. The Clothesline Project developed in response to students in her Women and Crime class who shared their own experiences of abuse. What began with a simple survey of these classes turned into a rigorous study of student victimization experiences based on 20 percent of IU Northwest’s students. The data revealed that a significant portion of IU Northwest students had experienced trauma and gender abuse in their communities, which, studies show, affects student success.

One of Foltz’s responsibilities is coordinating the annual Celebrating Our Students research conference for WGS, which she has been involved with since starting at IU Northwest. Previously serving as a faculty advisor and moderator for student presentations, today she is the program director and chair, securing a keynote speaker and overseeing the advertising, catering, and hundreds of details that go into organizing a large conference. Foltz is also credited with bringing the conference to more students by initiating a rotation across IU campuses; previously, it was only held at IU Kokomo and IU Bloomington.

Clearly, Foltz puts her heart and soul into her duties as the WGS director, and she makes every effort to create meaningful campus programming for students to learn from and enjoy. “I expect Dr. Foltz will continue to grow as an educator and continue to make a positive impact on the students we serve,” says James Wallace, director of the campus Office of Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs. “IU Northwest is fortunate to have a scholar and educator of such dedication and achievement.”

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