Jacquelyn Beyer

Jacquelyn Beyer, Professor Emerita of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, died on July 22. Jackie, as she was widely known, was a pioneer. Raised by her mother in a cabin in Colorado, her earliest ambitions were to be a foreign correspondent. Too young to fulfill her wish to enlist in the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps on the outbreak of World War II, Jackie completed her B.A. (1944) in journalism at the University of Colorado, then joined the army and ran a photography lab in Germany. On return to the U.S., she earned an M.A. in Geography (University of Colorado, 1954). Unwilling to pursue the conventional goals expected of women (marriage or secretarial work) in the 1950s, she earned a PhD in Geography at the University of Chicago (1957) with Gilbert White, emphasizing resource management issues in the American West. She was one of very few women to receive the doctorate in geography in that era.

After short-term academic positions in the U.S., Jackie traveled and taught at the University of Cape Town. An important avocation in mid-life was piloting her own plane.

Beyer made long-term contributions at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs (1970-1990), where she initiated the Geography and Environmental Studies Department, serving as its Chair between 1970-76 and 1980-84. Her innovations including introducing personalized, active learning approaches to geography, and one of the earliest courses nationally in feminist geography. She established a scholarship fund for women in geography which has supported more than thirty students. Contributions to sustain this program are welcome (CU Foundation/Women in Geography Endowed Scholarship, P.O. Box 7150, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80933-7150).

A fifty-plus year member of the AAG, Jackie led the way in promoting equity. As a Regional Councillor her achievements included writing the report that introduced the non-discrimination clause into AAG’s Constitution and By-Laws and securing funding to support the Committee on the Status of Women in Geography. Her commitments to women and sexual diversity were recognized by an Award for Significant Achievement from the Sexuality and Space Specialty Group and the AAG’s Enhancing Diversity Award, of which she was very proud.

Jacquelyn Beyer (Necrology). 2008. AAG Newsletter 43(8): 17.