Alumna Nellie Franklin overlooks "mighty women" title

OQ is Celebrating Mighty Women of Mighty Oregon. Who Do You Celebrate?

The winter ’24 issue spotlights UO women of strength and grit and welcomes reader submissions

By George Evano Illustration by David Gill January 15, 2024

3 min read 

The visage of Nellie Franklin, the University of Oregon’s first Black woman graduate, looks out from the cover of the Winter ’24 issue of Oregon Quarterly. She signifies how women of strength and courage have shaped the university—and looks to the future, with more to be done.

Coinciding with the fiftieth anniversary of the UO Center for the Study of Women in Society, the issue celebrates women who have overcome gender stereotypes and paved roads of equity for others to travel: the Mighty Women of Mighty Oregon.

As part of the celebration, we ask readers to share their stories of a Mighty Woman of Oregon—a teacher, mentor, friend, fellow student, or cultural icon. Use this form to submit your story. The magazine will compile and publish the contributions for Women’s History Month in March.

Celebrate a Mighty Woman of Oregon

At the issue’s heart is a history of the Center for the Study of Women in Society, built on the tenacious work of faculty members who believed that the scholarly exploration of feminism could lead to groundbreaking research and societal change. Their determination was rewarded with fortuitous funding from an unexpected source—the estate of Jane Grant, a journalist and cofounder, with her first husband, Harold Ross, of the New Yorker magazine.

In conjunction with this feature, five recipients of CSWS research grants offer their thoughts on the “mighty women” who inspired them.

The New Yorker connection comes full circle in a Q&A with Tina Brown, the magazine’s legendary editor in chief, once referred to as “Stalin in high heels,” who comes to Eugene for a panel discussion for the CSWS fiftieth anniversary. Brown speaks plainly about the path to equality. 

“You just have to win,” she says.

Architecture student Tayler Ervin, president of the UO’s Alpha Kappa Alpha Black sorority, considers Franklin’s legacy. And Masami Kawai, a filmmaker and assistant professor in cinema studies, offers lessons learned from her fellowship at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab. 

Also: Marie Equi, an alumna from the early 1900s, was a homesteader, frontier doctor, feminist, and no-nonsense advocate for union workers and healthcare. She stood firm for her beliefs, no matter the cost. Her story is illustrated in graphic novel style by another alumna, Audra McNamee, a graduate of the Clark Honors College and the College of Arts and Sciences’ math and computer science and comic studies programs.

A new OQ video profiles Nayantara Arora, the UO’s first Rhodes Scholar since 2007, who is studying global health and the relationship between the vascular system and Alzheimer’s disease. A first-generation Indian American, Arora is fluent in Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and English; she also is learning Arabic, Hebrew, and Spanish. “With a family history of storytelling,” she says, “I am drawn towards empathy, open communication, and reconciliation as powerful keys to solving the nuanced issues we face in communities today.”

Like Arora, Dante’ James is in the Clark Honors College, studying global health, and is a recipient of the prestigious Stamps Scholarship. Her experiences have taught her powerful lessons about growing up at intersections—as a scientist, woman, and member of a minority population. 

The issue reaches its heights on the sturdy shoulders of the UO's acrobatics and tumbling team. Through the eyes of the coach and athletes, we introduce the fine points of watching the sport and trace the phenomenal growth of the team and how it has been elevated by the philanthropy of the Women in Flight program.


George Evano is publisher of Oregon Quarterly.