In the early 1970s a group of senior-level women from New England campuses met to discuss the lack of opportunities for academic women. They called themselves the “Committee for the Concerns of Women in New England Colleges and Universities.” The Committee received a modest grant from the Ford Foundation in 1972 to create Project HERS (Higher Education Resource Services) at Brown University. They had a dual mission – to improve the status of academic professional women and to aid colleges and universities in compliance with the requirements of Title IX that mandated an end to discrimination based on gender in employment.
In 1974 the Ford Foundation granted further funding to establish HERS, Mid-Atlantic at the University of Pennsylvania. In 1976, Director of HERS, Mid-Atlantic, Cynthia Secor secured funding from the William H. Donner Foundation to launch the first Summer Institute for Women in Higher Education Administration co-sponsored with and housed at Bryn Mawr College. By 1978 the Summer Institute became self supporting and continues to be so today.
Also in 1976 Project HERS moved to Wellesley College, again with support from the Ford Foundation. HERS, New England sponsored career counseling workshops and the Management Institute for Women in Higher Education at Wellesley College. The Management Institute is a series of five weekend seminars focused on teaching administrative skills to women.
HERS, West was started at the University of Utah in 1979 for professional women in the intermountain states.
In 1983 HERS, Mid-Atlantic moved to the University of Denver and was renamed HERS, Mid-America. Now named Higher Education Resource Services (HERS) is now located in the Merle C. Chambers Center for the Advancement of Women on the University of Denver Campus. The Chambers Center also houses The Women’s College at the University of Denver and the Women’s Foundation of Colorado. All of the organizations share a common goal – that women and girls receive education opportunities equal to those open to men and that they subsequently participate fully in the work force.
In addition to the Summer Institute and the Management Institute HERS has developed new programs. In the 1990s HERS and the National Association of Collegiate Women and Athletic Administrators (NACWAA) teamed up to co-sponsor the Institute for Administrative Advancement (IAA). The IAA offers week long seminars for women coaches and athletic administrators.
In the late 1990s HERS was funded by the Andrew W. Melon Foundation to start the HERS-South Africa Seminar. Over seventy women from South Africa have traveled to the United States to participate in trainings for women in higher education administration. The HERS-South Africa office is located in Cape Town and continues to offer workshops as well as two week-long HERS South African Academies.