Seminar room to be dedicated to Maxwell’s first female full professor
Seminar room to be dedicated to Maxwell’s first female full professorOctober 12, 2001SU News ServicesSUnews@syr.edu
Marguerite J. Fisher G’42 (Ph.D.) was not only the first female full professor in the Maxwell School, she was also a sometimes controversial scholar, an advocate for women’s rights, an outspoken critic of the Vietnam War, a supporter of animals and a well-known personality on the SU campus.
To celebrate Fisher’s life and the lives of other women who have contributed to the University and the world, a seminar room in Eggers Hall will be named in honor of Fisher. The dedication ceremony will take place at 5 p.m. Oct. 19 in Maxwell Auditorium. It will be followed at 5:30 p.m. by the unveiling of a permanent wall display honoring the women of Syracuse University from 1870-2000 in the Marguerite J. Fisher Seminar Room, 012 Eggers Hall.
Two other events will take place that day to celebrate women. The first is a dramatic reading by playwright, psychotherapist and actress Clare Coss, who will read from her one-character play “Lillian Wald: At Home on Henry Street” at 1 p.m. in the Public Events Room, 220 Eggers Hall. Wald was a pacifist, activist and cofounder of the Henry Street Settlement in New York City. Coss is the editor of “Lillian D. Wald: Progressive Activist” (The Feminist Press).
Blanche Wiesen Cook will present “Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” from 4 to 5 p.m. in Maxwell Auditorium. Cook is a distinguished professor of history at John Jay College and at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of a three-volume biography of Eleanor Roosevelt.
Fisher, known as Maggie, graduated cum laude from Smith College in 1926. She received a master’s degree from Columbia University in 1927 and a Ph.D. in political science from SU in 1942.
Early in her career, Fisher contributed to general texts on American politics. Her teaching specialty was political theory. She also taught a graduate course in which students were required to do 12 hours of actual political party work, attend and report on four campaign meetings or political rallies, participate in government administration and be involved in local civic organizations and social welfare agencies.
Fisher’s academic work on international issues was extensive and sometimes controversial. In 1952, at the height of the McCarthy era, she published “Communist Doctrine and the Free World,” though colleagues urged her to delay publication. She was outspoken in her opposition to the Vietnam War, saying in a 1967 Daily Orange article, “Draft-exempt male students who harass the peace protesters on campus are the lowest form of yellow-livered cowards and moral prostitutes.”
Fisher also published studies of women’s rights around the world. After a trip to Russia in 1962, she commented, “Russians use the brains of women more than we do in America.” She was president of the Onondaga County League of Women Voters in 1929 and president of the New York State Federation of Business and Professional Women from 1952 to 1954. The Syracuse Herald-American named her one of the “Women of the Year” for outstanding civic service in 1952. She worked to have both national parties nominate women for the vice presidency in 1952, and she ran for Syracuse Common Council in 1971.
In 1945, Fisher worked to organize a new course called “The Status and Responsibilities of Women in American Society.” She fought for equal pay for female professors, refuting the claim that women had only to support themselves, while men had to support a family.
Fisher was well known on campus not only for her intellectual and activist accomplishments, but for her novel way of dealing with students who were late to her classes-she required them either to enter through the window or bring steak for her dachshunds.