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Women's leadership director passes after fight with cancer

Alison Bernstein, the director of the Institute for Women's Leadership Consortium, passed away on June 30 after a fight with cancer. Her legacy includes the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair, which she helped develop and raise funds for. (Institute for Women's Leadership) – Photo by null

Alison R. Bernstein, director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership Consortium (IWL), died last Thursday due to complications from cancer.

The former professor in the Departments of History and Women’s & Gender Studies first joined Rutgers in 2011. Previously, she was an associate dean of faculty at Princeton University and the vice president at Ford Foundation’s program on Knowledge, Creativity and Free Expression, according to her biography.

During her time at Rutgers, Bernstein created the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture and Feminist Studies position, helping it raise more than $2 million.

“(Bernstein) expressly asked that anyone wishing to make a charitable gift in her honor should give to the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair at Rutgers University,” according to IWL’s website. “(Bernstein) created this chair to recognize Gloria’s unparalleled contributions to women’s opportunities, gender issues and global leadership.”

Former students and colleagues paid tribute to her work on Facebook, discussing the impact she had on their lives.

“(Bernstein) was one of the strongest women I have ever met in my life. She managed her duties at the IWL so well, even while battling cancer, and she never let anything effect her positive attitude,” said alumnus Mariam Aqeel. “She will always hold a special place in my heart, as well as in the hearts of the many students whose lives she has touched.”

Phoebe Atkinson described Bernstein as a “dynamic inspirational leader,” on the same thread.

Retired department administrator Gail Reilly said Bernstein had “an abundance of creative energy and ideas.”

Reilly worked with Bernstein for three years when the latter first came to Rutgers.

“She will be fondly remembered by all of us she touched through her work at IWL and Rutgers,” she said.

Nikhilesh De is a School of Engineering junior. He is the news editor of The Daily Targum. Follow him on Twitter @nikhileshde for more.


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