Barbara Havira Retires

Barbara Havira Retires

Dr. Barbara Havira Retiring from WMU

After 43½ years of service to Western Michigan University, Barbara Speas Havira will retire from the History Department in December 2012. Her retirement party will take place Sunday, January 20, 2013 at the Fetzer Center from 2-5 pm. The reception is open to the public so please RSVP at 269-387-4650 or to

Dr. Havira’s scholarship addresses women’s history, the history of education, Michigan labor history, and the early history of WMU. Her 1986 MSU Ph.D. dissertation, “Factories and Workers in Three Michigan Towns: 1880-1920,” examined the status and experience of women in manufacturing in southwestern Michigan. Articles on the International Ladies’ Garment Workers Union 1912 strike in Kalamazoo and on the work of the Michigan Bureau of Labor Statistics in the early twentieth century further express her focus on Michigan labor topics. Michigan was again the focus when Havira joined other local scholars to produce three annual 20 page newsprint tabloids (1989-1991) on the theme: “The History of Women in Education in Kalamazoo.” Dr. Havira’s professional associations outside WMU included the History of Education Society, the North American Labor History Association, the Michigan Women’s Studies Association, and the History of Women.

havira Much of Dr. Havira’s teaching in her first twenty years at WMU consisted of interdisciplinary and team teaching. Courses addressing interdisciplinary social science, the non-western world, the twentieth century, and women’s studies brought her into on-going professional association with faculty from varied disciplines. In the 1970s, Dr. Havira joined with colleagues inside and outside her department to develop the WMU women’s studies program and served a term as director. She taught the core course for seventeen years as well as others in the program.

In her twenty plus years in the history department, Dr. Havira taught courses in women’s history for general education and for majors. She continued to focus on curriculum development and pedagogy as a committee member and during a term as Director of Undergraduate Studies. The required course in history methods for undergraduate majors has been part of her teaching schedule since 1998.

During her tenure at WMU, Dr. Havira engaged in faculty governance at all levels. She served on Faculty Senate committees and councils which developed the “memoranda of action” that form the basis for official Faculty Senate action. Admissions, treatment of students, evaluation of administrators, mediation, program development, and curriculum are just some of the areas of her work. In the 1970s, Dr. Havira helped draft the first WMU-AAUP contract and has continued to serve the faculty union in various ways. Engagement at the department level included curriculum development, drafting and revising department policy statements, and participating in personnel decisions. Dr. Havira was a member, and served a term as president, of the WMU Commission on the Status of Women, a voluntary campus association which recommended policies to improve gender equity on campus. The Commission selected her for the Woman of the Year Award in 1990, and university presented her with WMU Distinguished Service award in 2002.

In retirement, reading, hiking, golf, and gardening will fill more of her days. Travel to exotic landscapes, museums, and distant friends appeal as well.


Department of History
4301 Friedmann Hall
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5334 USA
(269) 387-4650 | (269) 387-4651 Fax