Beth Martin Birky leaves a legacy of advocacy at Goshen College

Goshen College is preparing to bid farewell to a stalwart champion of academic integrity and gender equity.

Dr. Beth Martin Birky, associate academic dean and Title IX coordinator and long-time professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies, is set to retire in April after a distinguished career spanning over three decades in Goshen.

A 1983 Goshen College graduate, Birky was hired in 1993 to teach composition and literature in the English Department, where she served as English Department chair for nine years. She also taught Women’s & Gender Studies courses while directing the program for 14 years.

Since joining the academic dean’s office in July 2019, Birky has continued to leave an indelible mark on the institution, spearheading initiatives ranging from interdisciplinary studies advising to faculty development projects. Additionally, her role encompasses Title IX policy and leading efforts to ensure a safe and inclusive campus environment.

“Beth’s work at GC models excellence and student-centered care in the many different spaces and roles she engaged across campus — in her teaching, advocacy, community organizing, mentorship and policy development,” said Kendra Yoder, professor of sociology and Women’s & Gender Studies program director at Goshen College. “Her tenacious commitment to creating more just and equitable communities for Goshen College and the world is an inspiration to all of us.”

Birky’s journey at GC traces back to her undergraduate studies from 1979-1983. After a stint teaching high school English in Pennsylvania, she pursued further studies, earning a master’s degree from Arizona State University in 1989 and a PhD from Loyola University Chicago in 1998.

Throughout her tenure, Birky has worn numerous hats, including directing the Goshen Core program, leading Study-Service Term in Costa Rica, and traveling with students for courses in Costa Rica and London. She has impacted various facets of campus life, from overseeing the writing center to co-chairing the diversity, equity and inclusion task force and leading conduct process alignment.

“As a tenured full professor of English and Women’s and Gender Studies for 25 years, my passion has always been teaching and learning alongside my students,” said Birky. “My work in Title IX is driven by a deep-seated commitment to gender equity and student support.”

Beyond administrative duties, Birky has been an advocate for students and gender issues across campus. From advising student groups including the Goshen Student Women’s Association to collaborating on initiatives combating sexual harassment and assault, her impact extends far beyond the confines of her office and the classroom.

“I believe in empowering students to create positive change,” said Birky. “I hope that my current work addressing, remedying and preventing sexual violence on campus helps people resolve situations and harm in a way that brings them closer to understanding and healing.”

Birky’s contributions serve as a testament to the power of advocacy and leadership in higher education.

“I’ve appreciated the opportunities that GC has given me to follow my passions and develop new skills,” said Birky. “I am so grateful for supportive colleagues who have mentored me over the years and for those who have worked alongside me more recently to support student care and academic success.”