Four individuals will be honored as recipients of the Dr. I. Joan Lorch Award on Friday during a virtual ceremony presented by Canisius’s Women’s and Gender Studies department.
The 2020 and 2021 student recipients are Morgan Morris and Olivia Miller, respectively. Matthew Kochan is the 2021 Canisius Colleague Award recipient and Luanne Firestone of Family Promise of WNY will receive the Community Award. Canisius started giving these awards in 1992.
The award is named for Dr. I Joan Lorch, a former Canisius biology professor who founded the department of Women’s Studies, now the Women’s and Gender Studies program.
“When I started at Canisius a long time ago, everything was geared towards men. The Jesuits are a male order— they don’t have nuns. Canisius was originally a men’s college, but then began to accept women only about 50 years ago, so there were fewer women students. Now it’s the opposite: they have more women students than men,” Dr. Lorch said during a phone call on Thursday.
Dr. Lorch will attend the virtual ceremony. “I came to Canisius in 1973 as an assistant professor of biology. There were only three full-time women faculty members,” she said. There are now more than 40.
“I came to Canisius with the assumption that feminism was merely a buzzword or something to fight for during Women’s Marches. Instead, it has become more of a way to form my identity and what I found important, and that’s when I discovered the term intersectional feminism,” said Morris, who serves as co-president of the Women and Gender Studies club at Canisius.
Miller is the president of the Peace Action club, co-president of the Women and Gender Studies club with Morris and is a peer educator for Step Up! Griffs. “In my four years at Canisius, I have really had the opportunity to flourish and explore the deep passions I have for social justice. A lot of my experience has been in relation to gender studies, even if I did not realize it,” she said Thursday.
“All that I have been a part of at Canisius in some way can be linked back to the fight for feminism and the understanding that we all deserve to feel equal and included. I am just trying to do my part to make the world a better place for everyone no matter who they are or where they come from.”
Firestone serves as the executive director of Family Promise of Western New York, an organization dedicated to helping families experiencing homelessness by providing emergency housing and support. She is also an active author within the Ignatian Solidarity Network.
“I am honored to be recognized as the Community Award recipient for the 2021 Dr. I. Joan Lorch Award for Women & Gender Studies and humbled to be included in a community of amazing women and men who are holding up the light of liberation,” Firestone said Wednesday.
The ceremony will be held virtually over Zoom from 4-5:30 p.m. on Friday. Contact Dr. Tanya Loughead for the Zoom invitation.