Skip to main content

Fran Paden's Tribute


Fran Paden
May 15, 2013

Like many other women faculty, I was warmly welcomed to Northwestern by Rae Moses. She invited me to join the Organization of Women Faculty and introduced me to people in Women’s Studies and the Women’s Center. I was swept up by her enthusiasm and her powerful commitment to feminism. During my second year here, I taught a course in Women’s Studies and, in my third year, accepted a joint appointment in the Writing Program and Women’s Studies. I worked closely with Rae. She mentored me in teaching, advising, and administration, and did so with extraordinary warmth, encouragement, and kindness.

Rae was one of the originators of Women’s Studies at Northwestern. She served as its director and was a career-long member of the Advisory Board. She was committed to diversity and inclusiveness. It was important to her that Women’s Studies at Northwestern be open to all people and to all disciplines. As an administrator in Women’s Studies, she fostered an active collaboration with African American Studies, created an adjunct faculty appointment in South Asian Studies, taught a student organized seminar on feminist issues in athletics, recruited faculty from the sciences as well as from other schools (law, journalism, speech, music, social policy, engineering), and supported the student-run literary magazine, Mountain Moving.  

As many of her colleagues and friends have noted, Rae was a progressive leader, teacher, and mentor. Her vision and her embrace were large. People and their ideas mattered deeply to her. She listened and counseled wisely. By example she helped those of us who were colleagues and students to use our imaginations and our words wisely, to feel into the future while working in the present. A stellar teacher, she received the Alumnae Award for outstanding performance in the classroom.  Upon her retirement, Gender Studies established the Rae Arlene Moses Leadership Award to be given annually to an outstanding graduating senior.

In June of 2000, with the unanimous vote of its Advisory Board and its students, Women’s Studies evolved into Gender Studies. In 2012, the program again transformed itself, this time into Gender and Sexuality Studies. The continued growth and broad range of the program reflect the humanity and vision of its founders, including, at the center, Rae Moses.

Rae was also a moving force in Northwestern’s residential college system. In the early nineties, when students were concerned that the Women’s Studies Residential College not become identified exclusively with feminism, Rae supported the proposal that its name be changed to Women’s Residential College. She helped the students explain to the administration that dropping “Studies” from the name of the college would ensure that it continue as a welcoming residence for all women, not only those who embraced feminism.  

Rae was a dear friend and a cherished colleague.  I miss her. I’m deeply grateful that we have been able to join the Moses family today in celebrating her remarkable life.

Frances Freeman Paden

Distinguished Senior Lecturer Emerita

Director of Women’s Studies (1999-2000)

Associate Director and Director of Undergraduate Studies in

Women’s Studies (1995-1999) and Gender Studies (2000-2004).

Co-Master, Women’s Residential College (1999-2003)