Dr. Joan Smyth Iversen Memorial Scholarship

Note: You can learn about my mom and the scholarship we established below. However, as of October 2013 I have established a separate blog, Dr. Joan Iversen Memorial Scholarship, to provide a place for people to share memories and reflections and for regular updates on progress on the scholarship — I would love it if you joined us there!  ~ Nancy


Dr. Joan Iversen in 2002

Dr. Joan Iversen in 2002

Dr. Joan Smyth Iversen was my mother — most people coming by this blog did not know her and probably never heard of her. But if you follow me in any way — here, or on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook — you will have been touched by her, because as anyone who knows me and who knew her will tell you, she was the strongest influence in my life.

She was a small, energetic woman with a large presence, a force of nature. A passionate, gifted teacher and a feminist, long before most people were willing to wear that label.

Because it was so important to her to shape the future, I, with support from family and her friends, have set up a scholarship in her name at the college where she was on faculty, The State University of New York at Oneonta, until her retirement in 1993.

The Scholarship in Her Name

  • What: An endowed scholarship created through the gifts of family, colleagues, friends and alumni in memory of Dr. Joan Iversen, Professor of History at SUNY Oneonta from 1967-1993, who worked to establish the Women’s Studies program at the college and served as its first chair.  This scholarship will become endowed when it reaches a principal amount of at least $25,000
  • Awarded to: undergraduate students who have financial need and who have declared a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies (or a major, should one become available in the future), and whose experience or interests reflect a commitment to feminism/feminist studies/women’s rights. In the event that Women’s Studies or Gender Studies is no longer a program at the college, the scholarship will be made to students who have financial need and whose experience or interests demonstrate a commitment to feminism/feminist studies/women’s rights.

Interested in Giving?

Checks can be made out to the “College at Oneonta Foundation” memo: “Dr. Joan Iversen Memorial Scholarship”-mail to: Office of College Advancement, 308 Netzer Admin Bldg, Oneonta, NY 13820.

To give to the scholarship online, donate to the College at Oneonta Foundation and choose “Other” under Designation for Funds and specify “Dr. Joan Iversen Memorial Scholarship” in the text box after “Other.”

The College at Oneonta Foundation will be updating me periodically about who has given. But I would love it if there weren’t a lag in receiving that information. So if you’ve given and would be willing to let me acknowledge your gift online in some way (full name, first name only, anonymous, or whatever) please send me an email at smythnj at gmail dot com. I will be creating a giving acknowledgement page shortly.

Want to Know More About Her?

Here’s her obituary (which I wrote), minus the family information:

Joan Smyth Iversen, 81, of Oneonta, passed away on Sept. 16, 2013, at Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown, NY after complications resulting from a surgical procedure.

She attended St. Francis College and then received her bachelor’s degree from Fordham University in New York City, graduating with her stepfather, Richard McAtamney. She received her doctorate in education from Teacher’s College of Columbia University.

She was a high school social studies teacher at Ossining High School in Ossining, N.Y. from 1953-1958 and 1965-1966, and a part-time instructor at Teacher’s College, Columbia University in 1960-1964, and 1966-1967. She joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Oneonta (SUNY-Oneonta) History Department in 1967 as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 1973 and full professor in 1981. She was widely known as an outstanding teacher, culminating in her receiving the State University of New York Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1973. She served as history department chair from 1987-1990. She retired from SUNY-Oneonta in 1993.

Iversen was a champion of women’s rights and the study of women’s history. She was the founder and chair of the SUNY-Oneonta Women’s Studies program from 1975-1979, and a founding member and vice-president of the Delaware/Otsego Chapter of the National Organization for Women. She was also founder and chair of the Oneonta Battered Women’s Project in 1978, which is now the Violence Intervention Program of Opportunities for Otsego. Her research focused on the feminist implications of Mormon polygyny and her book, The Antipolygamy Controversy in U.S. Women’s Movements, 1880-1925, A Debate on the American Home, continues to be a key resource on this topic.

Since retiring, she has spent winters in Key Largo, Florida with her husband, Jack, and their dog, Max. She continued to support and mentor women in their professional development, and she was always there to guide family and friends on what they should be reading in the New York Times. She was widely appreciated for her artistic flair for interior decoration and sense of style and would share her style advice freely with friends and family. She was an excellent cook, although in later life, she especially enjoyed frozen Snickers bars.

For those who are interested, we have established a Facebook Page, In Memory of Joan Iversen, where you can see more photos and comments from those who knew her.