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Wendy Robbins

In memoriam

Wendy Robbins

Dr. Wendy Robbins died on April 18, 2017, from complications of a brain aneurysm. She is very much missed by her colleagues and students at UNB and remembered as a feminist activist, teacher and scholar.

Wendy was the longest-serving member of the English department and a pioneer at UNB. She began her UNB career in 1984 and was the first woman to be promoted to full professor of English at our university. A scholar of Women’s Studies and Canadian literature, Dr. Robbins was co-founder of the Women’s Studies program (now Gender and Women’s Studies) in 1986 and served as co-ordinator of that program for many years. She was former editor of Studies in Canadian Literature, housed here at UNB, and former president of the Canadian Association for Commonwealth Literature and Language Studies. She won the Allan P. Stuart Award for excellence in teaching, the highest award for teaching at UNB.

She stood for the Liberal nomination in the Fredericton riding, was President of New Brunswick Women’s Liberal Commission, and served as the Vice-President, Atlantic for the National Women’s Liberal Commission. Through her involvement with the Liberal party, she advocated for improved access to abortion in New Brunswick and at the national level lobbied for medically assisted dying legislation.

She was one of the complainants who fought for gender equity against Industry Canada in 2003 in the Canada Research Chairs program and was ultimately successful. Wendy continued to track and report on the lack of gender parity in the program over the years, including contributing to a report to the Minister of Industry in 2012. Having brought her expertise in women’s and gender studies to multiple other organizations (Canadian Advisory Council on the Status of Women, Canadian Federation of the Humanities and Social Sciences (CFHSS), Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT)), she was, in 2007, awarded a Governor General’s Award in Commemoration of the Persons Case, which recognizes outstanding contributions in the advancement of equality for women in Canada.

Her current research project grew out of this long interest in gender, politics, and academia. She had recently completed the manuscript of a SSHRC-funded book about gender, campus fiction, and the academic memoir. In her recent Research Snapshot, she talked about how she was living this work, which she called her current passion. All of these efforts for gender equality, on behalf of students, faculty, and academics across Canada will be a lasting, living legacy.

Read news stories about Wendy:
Globe and Mail

You may make a gift to honour Wendy's legacy of promoting women's rights in Canada by donating to the Wendy J. Robbins Women’s Empowerment Fund, a fund to support women's public participation and personal autonomy. Gifts can be made by donating online or by mailing a contribution to our offices in Saint John or Fredericton. Thank you for your support.

How you can help

We encourage you to share this page with family, friends and colleagues who may have known Wendy, and to help honour her memory by making a gift in support of the Wendy J. Robbins Women’s Empowerment Fund at UNB online or by mail.

How to establish named gifts

Establishing named scholarships, bursaries or other funds is an easy and meaningful way to ensure that you or someone you care about is remembered with a special connection to UNB. Contact us to learn more.