Hunter President Jennifer J. Rabb, and Dorothy O. Helly, Professor Emerita of History and Women’s Studies at Hunter and The Graduate School, were honored along with eight other women at a gala event thrown by the Feminist Press at the City University of New York November 7.


At a glittering evening at the Tavern on the Green restaurant November 5, the Feminist Press at the City University of New York honored two Hunterites as well as eight other women administrators at CUNY: Dorothy O. Helly, Professor Emerita of History and Women’s Studies at Hunter College and The Graduate School, and Jennifer J. Rabb, 13th President of Hunter College.

Helly received a “Femmy” award after an introduction by Prof. Blanche Wiesen Cook, a Hunter graduate and professor of history at John Jay College and The Graduate Center at CUNY who is currently at work on a third volume of her fascinating biography of Eleanor Roosevelt (connected with Roosevelt House at Hunter).

Rabb was one of seven women presidents at CUNY colleges (Baruch, Bronx, Hostos, Hunter, La Guardia, Kingsborough, and York) and two women deans (Queen’s Law School and Macaulay Honors College) to receive the “Sue Rosenberg Zalk,” named for a late professor Education at Hunter, who was, before her early death, Vice President for Student Affairs at the CUNY Graduate School.

Mathhew Goldstein, Chancellor of the CUNY system introduced the CUNY women administrators.

Dorothy O. Helly’s “Femmy” was awarded for her nine years of service on the Board of Directors of the Feminist Press, when she served as an associate editor of the Women’s Studies Quarterly, published by the press, and in 1997 co-edited its 25th anniversary issue.

A Ph.D. from Harvard University, Helly taught in History and Women’s Studies and in 1977-84 served as an Associate Dean for the Evening Session. She was the director of Women’s Studies in 1984-87, when the Bella Abzug Lecture series was established. She collaborated with Hunter colleagues to write three editions of Women’s Realties, Women’s Choices: An Introduction to Women’s Studies (1982, 1995, 2005). In 1983-84, nominated by the then president of Hunter, Donna Shalala, Helly spent a year at the central office of CUNY, working as a special assistant to Marguerite Ross Barnett, the first African American woman to hold the position of Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at CUNY.

Identified with the early efforts by Women’s Studies at Hunter to introduce into the curriculum of introductory courses and the professional schools inclusion of issues of gender, race, ethnicity, and class, Helly went on from 1987 to 1998, to co-coordinate a CUNY University Faculty Development seminar on this topic. To widen faculty discussion of these issues, she established within the CUNY Academy on the Humanities and the Sciences a monthly seminar on “Scholarship and the Curriculum.”

With two grants from the Ford Foundation, Helly organized seven national panels on how concepts of gender and race have affected the traditional disciplines. The seven pamphlets that were distributed across CUNY and published by the National Council for Curriculum Transformation.

Helly’s own scholarship has included a monograph on Livingstone’s Legacy: Horace Waller and Victorian Mythmaking (1987) and a co-edited volume, Gendered Domains: Rethinking the Public and Private in Women’s History (1992). Helly has also published four articles since 1992 on the life of Flora Shaw, who in the 1890s was the first woman journalist to hold a staff position on The Times (of London). Helly is engaged in writing a full-length biography of the Anglo-Irish Flora Shaw (5th cousin of GBS), an ardent advocate of the British Empire in its heyday.

Among her other professional activities, Helly co-chaired the program committee of the Fourth International Interdisciplinary Congress on Women, held at Hunter College in June 1990. Professor Helly retired from teaching in 1999.