Dr. Kathleen Underwood is an educator, scholar, and public servant. Her commitment to historical research and passion for community improvement has earned her numerous awards and recognitions. She is currently associate professor of history and the director of the Women and Gender Studies program at Grand Valley State University.
Underwood completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Colorado in 1969. After a brief academic break, her studies continued at the University of California where she earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees.
In 1998, Underwood came to GVSU with nearly 20 years of academic experience. Having started her career at the University of Texas in Arlington, she knew that to successfully teach students meant instilling in them the importance of their role in the classroom.
During her time in Arlington, she also completed fellowships and several individual research projects in the fields of history and gender studies and contributed to numerous publications. In the years since, she has worked with the Coalition for Western Women’s History, the National Women’s Studies Association, and the Western History Association to promote the importance of women in history.
Her public service includes elected appointments in the Grand Rapids Historical Society, West Michigan Women’s Studies Council, and Library Commission for East Grand Rapids Library. As chair for the Citizens of for EGR Community Complex, Underwood aided the successful campaign to revitalize the East Grand Rapids Library, Parks and Recreation, and City Hall – an $8.74 million project.
Underwood has been and continues to be a mentor for her students, even beyond graduation. Her belief in the importance of learner engagement has impacted her students both inside and outside the classroom. Underwood has one son, and she and husband professor of history Gary Stark, live in East Grand Rapids.