Women of Western: Dr. Liza Kuecker

Women of Western: Dr. Liza Kuecker

Silver City, N.M. – Dr. Liza Keucker is retiring soon, putting a cap on a career in higher education that has been filled with achievement. Born in the “Baby Boomer” era, Liza Kuecker grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin. She attended Longfellow Middle School and Westosha Central High School. After graduating from high school, she took her college career to the University of Wisconsin–La Crosse and graduated in 1976 with a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology.

A year later she was enrolled to her “dream school” of University of Oregon. While studying for her Ph.D. in Sociology, Kuecker found an interest in women’s issues such as art, work and feminist theory. “I took every course on women I could find,” said Kueker.

“The women faculty at UO and the women I came into graduate school with got me interested with the [women] issues,” said Kuecker. With four or five women in the facility, they gave “critical” analysis of women status. She was fascinated with all them as they presented different ideas about women lives. However, there was one “disappointing” male professor who taught women in art. “This demonstrates how women were not seen as the great artists they are and how they were overlooked,” said Kuecker.

Producing or partaking in over 14 publications in books and papers, one specific dissertation Kuecker mentioned is “Men in Nursing.” With an interest in gender roles, she notes that men in nursing had the more of a predominant role than women. “They were getting promoted and earning more money,” said Kuecker.

In 1999, a publishing company called Whose Who Among American Women selected Kuecker for inclusion. Part of this acknowledgement came from teaching as professor. Another reason is because she presented papers in China, Russia, and Hungary. While earning many other awards, Kuecker was named Associated Students of WNMU Professor of the Year in 2011.

With much knowledge of the history of women struggles, Kuecker believes that the biggest step women took began in the late 1950’s during the Civil Rights movement, particularly the second phase. This is where the level of women’s awareness increased. As for today, she believes that there is a third of fourth phase because women are now dealing with issues such as gender, race, class, and sexual orientation.

Kuecker feels that women today have more empowerment than ever before; “I think now women at the college level are much more empowered. They are coming in with a level of awareness. They are their own person – amazing and overwhelming. I think it’s great to see.”

When being asked to give advice to today’s women, Kuecker responded by saying, “Dream big and be heard. Don’t be silenced.”