Ann Schonberger, who died last Tuesday at age 81, is seen in this Oct. 24, 2014, file photo. Credit: Ashley L. Conti / BDN

Ann Schonberger, a University of Maine professor who helped grow women’s studies into a full major and who was active in feminist causes throughout Maine, died Jan. 25 in Arlington, Massachusetts. She was 81, according to her obituary published Sunday in the Bangor Daily News.

Schonberger, born in Madison, Wisconsin, attended Wellesley College, Harvard University and the University of Wisconsin before she came to the University of Maine in 1971 with her husband, history professor Howard Schonberger, and their two children, Lisa and Ben.

In 1973, Schonberger taught the first women in an education course at UMaine, and after finishing her Ph.D. in mathematics education, she became a faculty member at what is now known as the University of Maine at Augusta’s Bangor campus.

In 1991, she became the director of UMaine’s Women in the Curriculum program, as well as its newly created women’s studies program, which she helped to expand to offer women’s studies as a major during her tenure. She mentored countless women students and faculty members over the course of her more than 20 years with the program. Today, it is known as the women’s, gender and sexuality studies program.

In 2002, the Safe Campus Project was established, based on a grant Schonberger received from the U.S. Department of Justice, aimed at reducing sexual violence on campus, and promoting safe and healthy relationships. The program continues today.

Schonberger retired from UMaine in 2013. She was a volunteer with domestic violence prevention organization Spruce Run, now known as Partners for Peace, for more than 35 years. Her work there included helping to shore up the organization’s finances and infrastructure to ensure its continued sustainability.

“Partners for Peace would not be the organization that it is today without the hard work and tenacity of this incredible woman,” Amanda Cost, executive director of Partners for Peace, said in a Facebook post on Saturday.

For her service to the community, Schonberger received the Maine Public Broadcasting Jefferson Award for Public Service in 1988 and the University of Maine Presidential Public Service Award in 2001, and she was elected to the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame in 2017.

Schonberger was a longtime congregant at Congregation Beth El in Bangor. Her husband, Howard, died in 1991. She is survived by her two children and four grandchildren.

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Emily Burnham

Emily Burnham is a Maine native and proud Bangorian, covering business, the arts, restaurants and the culture and history of the Bangor region.