Winona State University Associate Professor Dr. Mary Jo Klinker was awarded the Inter Faculty Organization’s (IFO) 2018 James Eric Chalgren Award. The James Eric Chalgren Award recognizes an IFO member who has improved the professional lives of LGBTQ+ faculty through leadership, and activism at the campus and statewide level.
Dr. Mary Jo Klinker has improved the professional lives of LGBTQ+ faculty across the state and has improved the system to more equitably recognize, hire, retain, tenure, and promote LGBTQ+ faculty. She has provided significant service to the IFO at Winona State and been an effective advocate and partner at the state level, serving in leadership capacities within the IFO.
In Feb 2015, Dr. Klinker received the Equity Issues Grant, “Organizing for Change: Toward a More Inclusive and Affirmative IFO Culture” in collaboration with Dr. Colette Hyman and Dr. Andrea Wood. In this work, they planned the first Delegate Assembly panel regarding social justice movements at the forefront of union organizing. In Fall 2017, the first LGBTQ Caucus was held, where she co-led the caucus meeting and a number of concerns and resolutions were brought forward to ensure a safe and equitable environment for the LGBT Faculty.
As a scholar and change agent, Dr. Klinker has also presented at the 2014 Bisexual Organizing Project Conference, co-taught a course on the gender spectrum for the senior university (2015), and have coordinated speakers for the university that put QPOC voices at the center of social justice. For example, she collaborated with the Frozen River Film Festival to bring CeCe McDonald and the film Free CeCe (2017). Further, she has brought in Andrea Jenkins (2017), Karma Chavez’ presentation on transnational HIV/AIDS research (2015), and the TEACH Alliance (2014) to aid in mapping out LGBTQ+ resources for Winona State University.
As the WSU LGBTQ FA Chair and LGBTQ Advocate (2016-current), Dr. Klinker has worked to offer 7 safe space trainings, advocacy for faculty, students, and staff, and have worked with students to ensure more access to LGBTQ+ resources. In 2013, upon hire, she created “Queer Theories and Politics” and Dr. Berg and extended the “Women’s and Gender Studies Program” to “Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.”
Dr. Klinker has served on the LGBTQ IFO statewide board 2016-present, and from 2016-2017, she was elected and served as the statewide chair. In this position, she worked to organize the third annual LGBTQIAA+ IFO Conference, where she also collaborated with previous Chalgren Awardee Ray Rea to present on Queer pedagogy regarding trigger warnings and safe spaces.
The Inter Faculty Organization is a union that takes professional responsibility for excellent, accessible, and inclusive public higher education in Minnesota and beyond. The IFO represents the interests, welfare, and aspirations of all faculty of the seven state universities of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system through collective bargaining, contract enforcement, and advocacy.