Ann Schonberger passes away

Editor’s note: The family of Ann Schonberger has arranged a memorial gathering to celebrate her life on Saturday, April 9 at 2:30 p.m. in Minsky Recital Hall. 

A memorial service will be held in Bangor later this year to honor the life and legacy of Ann Schonberger, retired director of the University of Maine Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies program. Schonberger passed away Jan. 25 at the age of 81.

An obituary is online.

Schonberger and her husband, Howard, a professor of history, joined the university community in 1971. She had a Ph.D. in mathematics education and was a faculty member in University College before being named director of the Women in the Curriculum and Women’s Studies program in 1991. A nationally recognized activist and women’s studies advocate, Schonberger was among the organizers of the First Maine Women’s Studies Conference in 1990, launching what would be an annual statewide event led by women scholars and gender equity advocates.

Schonberger was among an interdisciplinary group of faculty and graduate students who, in 1992, formed the Feminist Oral History Project to document the early feminist movement. With the large number of UMaine research projects on violence against women, Schonberger organized the Violence Against Women Research Collaborative in 2002, an interdisciplinary group of UMaine faculty and students, women’s advocates and professionals in the community. Schonberger also was one of the organizers of the Maine Women’s Studies Consortium — faculty, staff and students who met over several decades and annually sponsored a women’s studies conference and research retreat.

For her community activism to end domestic violence that included decades of volunteering with Spruce Run, Schonberger received the 2001 Presidential Public Service Award. She retired from UMaine in 2013, and three years later, she was inducted into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame.

Schonberger was one of UMaine’s early stalwart champions of diversity, equity and inclusion. For countless undergraduate and graduate students, UMaine faculty and staff members, and women and girls throughout Maine, Schonberger was a mentor, advocate and leader. Her influences ranged from curricula changes and an institutional focus on nonsexist language to on-campus programming of interest to all community members.

Many UMaine female faculty members were welcomed to — and encouraged to be involved in — the university community by Schonberger. She is remembered as a woman of great strength and commitment who always spoke her mind, and “a builder who got things done.”

Howard Schonberger passed away in 1991. UMaine’s​ ​annual Howard B. Schonberger Peace and Justice Memorial Lecture at UMaine is named in his honor.