After more than a year under new directorship, the Center for Sex and Gender Research here at CSUN is still trying to get situated.
“It’s been a very slow process,” said Jacob Hale, the director of the center and a professor in the philosophy department.
The center’s Web site is in the process of being updated to reflect the changing of the guard.
At this point, it still lists James Elias as director despite the fact that he resigned more than a year ago. Elias, who still participates with the center in an advisory capacity, said that updating the Web site and removing his contact information was a priority.
Hale is hoping to have that task completed by the end of the semester.
In order to update the Web site, Hale first wants to get his board of directors together to determine “what the members would like to see.”
Not only has the directorship changed hands, but many of the members listed on the site have retired.
The center, which changed its name from the Center for Sex Research, is broadening its focus from an emphasis on sexuality similar to that of the famed Kinsey Institute, to sexuality as both a verb and an adjective.
“I would suspect, with the name change, more of an emphasis on women’s and transgender issues and concerns,” said Michael Barrett, Collection Development and Technical Services Librarian for the Oviatt Library. “That was always there.”
He said he expects to see an expansion in those areas of research.
Barrett has been involved with the center for many years, helping members to find information.
He initially helped founder Vern Bullough to compile a master bibliography of sorts, back in 1972 before people could hop on a computer and check for materials.
Hale said that the center’s mission is purposely broad so that it is available to new faculty and areas of research, and “won’t be defined in some way that would exclude them.”
The Center has done a lot of work outside of the classroom in the past. Elias recalled international conferences and books published as a result of the Center’s work.
The last big conference took place in Croatia, and looked at sexuality and gender in post-communist Eastern Europe and Russia. Elias wasn’t directly involved with publishing that book, but did co-author three others from earlier conferences.
Elias was one of the founding members, as was his wife Veronica. They came from the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University.
At about the same time, several others with specialties in the realm of sexuality joined CSUN.
Donna Hardy, who taught psychology, had a specialty in animal sexuality.
The founding director, Vern Bullough, specialized in the history of sexology. Bullough would eventually donate masses of materials related to sexuality to the Oviatt Library’s special collections.
Hale said those archival materials have “tremendous value,” adding that even if he wasn’t part of the faculty, the Bullough collection makes CSUN one of the top places he would have visited for his research.
They began to meet to discuss the research that each was doing, supporting each other. Finally, in order to secure support from CSUN, they made it official and founded the Center for Sex Research.
They began publishing and holding conferences in a variety of areas in combination with various departments. Elias said there were probably about 16 major conferences in all.
With the founding members no longer active, the center has taken a new name and is heading in new directions. “I’m here to help out, however needed,” Elias said.
Once they figure out where they are headed, Hale and his board have big shoes to fill.