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Visionary Leader and Champion for Women
Gertrude Meth Hochberg was an ardent advocate for women’s equality and achieved many “firsts” during her accomplished career as Vice President of Public Relations at Bryant University (1949-1977).
Beginning with her arrival on Bryant’s campus in 1949 as director of public relations, Gertrude attained growing regional and national recognition for the college, now Bryant University. Her strong advocacy for women brought about the very first commencement address delivered by a woman in Bryant’s history (Oveta Culp Hobby), in 1953. Ten years later, as part of the college’s centennial celebration, she organized a major symposium, “The Status of Women in America,” to demonstrate Bryant’s commitment to women’s professional lives. As a result of her many accomplishments on behalf of women, she was appointed by former Governor of Rhode Island, John H. Chafee, to serve as chairperson of the Rhode Island Commission on the Status of Women in 1971.
After the College moved from Providence to Smithfield in the early 1970s, Bryant became more oriented toward residential students, but attracting women to its business curriculum was challenging. To help in this effort, Gertrude was appointed a Vice President at Bryant – a first for Rhode Island colleges and universities.
Gertrude helped to promote the university’s focus on educating and empowering women to achieve fulfilling careers, a continuous theme in Bryant’s history. A consummate professional and a devoted mother and wife, she served as a great mentor and role model, helping women realize that achieving a balance between a career and a loving family can indeed be accomplished.
Gertrude Meth Hochberg was and still is widely considered a pioneer in the field of women’s rights. Long after her retirement, she stayed in touch with Bryant’s progress, and in a 1999 letter to President Ronald K. Machtley, she wrote: “The designation of Bryant as a Women’s Center is an idea whose time has come. The College’s advocacy of women as business leaders has distinguished this institution since its founding in 1863.” In March 2011, Bryant University dedicated The Gertrude Meth Hochberg Women’s Center, honoring her role as an early pioneer in the field of women’s issues and her outstanding efforts in advancing the women of Bryant.