In Memoriam: Sharon E. Barker, 1949-2023

Sharon Barker, a long-time administrator at the University of Maine, died in late November. She was 74 years old.

Barker was a native of New Brunswick, Canada. She graduated from the University of Maine in 1971 and achieved her master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine in 1986.

After graduating from college, Barker briefly drove a taxi in Bangor, Maine, and worked at Family Planning in Bangor. In 1984 Barket co-founded the Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center with a close circle of activists.

Barker then served as the first director of the Women’s Resource Center at the University of Maine from 1991 until her retirement in 2014. In that role, Barker mentored countless students, collaborated with faculty and staff, and served as a liaison with women’s organizations in the community. Her leadership included developing and facilitating gender equity workshops for girls, offering professional development workshops in gender dynamics for teachers, and training university students to serve as role models and presenters at the annual Expanding Your Horizons program for middle school girls.

Barker is the namesake for the Barker Student Activism Award, which honors university students who seek to implement positive change in their communities by fostering equity and social justice. The award is now managed by the Division of Student Life, which houses the center that Barker directed.

“Sharon Barker’s commitment to equity for women was exemplified in every aspect of her work and has left a lasting impact on the many organizations with which she worked,” says Emily Haddad, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Maine.

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