In Memoriam: Sally Miller Gearhart, 1931-2021

Sally Gearhart, author, scholar, activist, and professor emerita at San Francisco State University, died in Ukiah, California, on July 14. She was 90 years old.

A native of Pearisburg, Virginia, Dr. Gearhart earned a bachelor’s degree in drama and English, at Sweet Briar College in Virginia. She went on to earn a master’s degree in theater at Bowling Green State University in Ohio and a Ph.D. in theater at the University of Illinois.

She began her academic career at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas, and then taught at Texas Lutheran College in Seguin. In 1973, she was hired by San Francisco State University, where she became the first open lesbian to be granted tenure at a major university in the United States. There, she played a major role in developing one of the first women and gender studies programs in the nation, and the university was the first to develop a course dealing with sex roles and communications under her leadership.

Throughout the next decades, Dr. Gearhart was a vocal advocate for the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people, animals, and the environment. Her personal and academic papers are entrusted to the University of Oregon, where the Sally Miller Gearhart Fund for Lesbian Studies has been established in her name as part of the Women’s and Gender Studies program.

Filed Under: In Memoriam


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