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In Memoriam

Alison R. Bernstein

Alison R. Bernstein, a beloved campus leader at Rutgers who had served as director of the Institute for Women’s Leadership (IWL), passed way on June 30, 2016, after a long battle with cancer.

She will be remembered as a woman of keen intellect, fierce determination and imagination, abundant good will, and a lively sense of humor.

Bernstein was a highly regarded scholar and educational innovator. Under her imaginative and energetic guidance, IWL developed two entirely new initiatives, the first on Women and Health, and the second on Women, Media, and Technology. The latter led to the creation of the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair in Media, Culture, and Feminist Studies at Rutgers, which is a joint venture of IWL and the School of Communication and Information. She was also the driving force behind a new book series being published by Rutgers University Press, Junctures in Women's Leadership, a collection which will total eight volumes when completed.

Prior to Rutgers, Bernstein worked at the Ford Foundation for nearly three decades, first as a program officer, later as director of the Education and Culture Program, and finally as vice president for Knowledge, Creativity, and Freedom and its successor program—Education Creativity and Free Expression. She was responsible for the foundation’s work in the United States and internationally in the fields of education, higher education and scholarship, arts and culture, media, and religion and sexuality.

A graduate of Vassar College, where she graduated summa cum laude in history, and Columbia University, where she earned her Ph.D. in the same discipline, Bernstein served as associate dean of the faculty at Princeton University and as a visiting professor at Spelman College before coming to Rutgers in 2011. She was also on the governing boards of both Vassar and Bates colleges.

She is survived by two daughters, Julia and Emma.

In lieu of flowers, Bernstein’s family has asked for charitable gifts in her honor to be made to the Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair at Rutgers University. Gifts may be made at:, or forwarded to Rutgers University Foundation, Gloria Steinem Endowed Chair, c/o Lisa Hetfield, Institute for Women’s Leadership, 162 Ryders Lane, New Brunswick N.J., 08901.

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