Activists and friends to honor memory of Women’s Center director

Anne Truax served as director of the University’s Women’s Center for 20 years.

by Tyler Gieseke

Both friends and colleagues will speak in honor of the late Anne Thorsen Truax at a memorial service Tuesday.

Truax served as director of the University of Minnesota’s Women’s Center — formerly the Minnesota Women’s Center — and ended her career in the Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action. An “outspoken” and “feisty” woman, she was a champion of equity for women.

“Anne was just always in the thick of [feminist politics],” said German, Scandinavian, and Dutch professor Ruth-Ellen Joeres, who was both a colleague and a close friend of Truax.

Joeres will speak at the memorial and focus on the friendship between her and Truax.

“Anne’s friends were many,” she said. “I’m looking forward to numbers of people coming together like this.”

Director of the Women’s Center in the 1970s and 80s, Truax was especially passionate about gender discrimination in education, employment and the legal rights of women, said Arvonne Fraser, senior fellow emerita of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

Fraser said she worked with Truax as a colleague in the Women’s Equity Action League, where they helped pass Title IX in education to open up law, medicine, engineering and architecture to women.

Before Title IX, Fraser said there were either quotas or else those programs didn’t take women.  

Besides gains in education equity, Fraser said her and other activists witnessed the explosion of women back into the workforce.

“We sort of had a revolution — peaceful, that is — but there’s still a lot to be done,” she said, and named pay equity as an example.  

 Current Director of the Women’s Center Peg Lonnquist spoke similarly.

“I think the University is doing a lot of things positively, and there’s more left to do,” she said.

One of the issues the Women’s Center continues to work on, Lonnquist said, is providing support for women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Fraser will speak at the memorial and said she plans to touch on Truax’s sense of humor and dedication to her sons in addition to her pioneering work on campus.

“She was a very balanced person,” Fraser said.