Marianne Githens, a retired Goucher College professor of political science who was a co-founder of its women’s studies program, died of an apparent heart attack Feb. 27 at her downtown Baltimore home. She was 83.
Born in New York City and raised in Cedarhurst on Long Island, she was the daughter of John H. Githens, an accountant, and his wife, Anita, a schoolteacher.
She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from Marymount Manhattan College. She then received her doctorate from the London School of Economics in 1960, where she studied European political institutions and French political thought.
“Her family was reluctant to let her go and be so far away,” said her son, Jonathan Githens-Mazer. “She went to London at the time of the decolonization of British Empire and lived with a German-Jewish emigre family in Hampstead Heath.”
She joined the Goucher College faculty in 1965 and taught full time until her retirement i 2014. Then she became a part-time teacher until 2016.
“She was a pioneering scholar in the field of women in politics and remained an established authority throughout her career,” said a statement from the school.
“Her greatest joy came from teaching,” said Jean H. Baker of Owings Mills, a faculty colleague. “She was an educator whose pedagogy was ahead of the curve. While some of her teaching methods may have appeared unconventional at the time … Marianne taught her students how to think and be bold in their pursuits.”
“She was a real force in the academic and student life at Goucher,” said Dr. Baker. “Students flocked to her courses. In her teaching of political science she stressed the importance of discipline and active thinking. She was also an active feminist who fought the administration, her colleagues and even some students to set up a women’s studies program.”
In describing her colleague, Dr. Baker added: “She was a small woman, but was big in terms of her writing. Within the school, she was an extraordinarily successful politician. She appeared in the classroom in fantastic clothes and wore more jewelry than you’ve ever seen in your life.”
Lois B. Feinblatt, a friend, said Dr. Githens was “a woman before her time, before the Me Too movement. She came to the campus when most of the professors were men and you never forgot that when you were with her. She was not a militant feminist — she loved her students and they loved her.”
“Marianne had a long career at Goucher College, where she had a strong hand in shaping the community that we are today,” said Jose Bowen, president of Goucher University. “She spent many years as chair of the Political Science Program and was a co-founder of the Women’s Studies Program. A staunch advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion, she was not one to mince her words and you never had to wonder where you stood with her.”
She married Stanley Zenith Mazer, a Community College of Baltimore City teacher and dean, in 1973. They met while working on a political campaign for Parren Mitchell. “They shared a commitment to racial equality,” her son said.
A 1974 Evening Sun article described Dr. Githens as an advocate for cities and Baltimore’s urban neighborhoods.
“It’s enriching to live among people with all the different perspectives you find in a city neighborhood,” she said. “I find it dismal the way people seem to be more and more involved in enclave living.”
In 1994 she and her husband bought an 1840s-era home in downtown Baltimore’s Mount Vernon.
“Making the house a gathering place for friends, family and her students, Githens has embellished the walls with her husband's oil paintings and watercolors, while his sculptures are placed alongside furniture pieces and floor plants,” said a 2008 article in The Sun. “Githens loves the cheeriness of a kitchen remodeled with cherry cabinets and granite countertops. A hall runs along the entire west side of the first level. Today, it is used as a picture gallery, predominantly of family portraits.”
Dr. Githens received Goucher’s Outstanding Teaching Award and Human Rights Scholar Award. Marymount Manhattan College awarded her its Distinguished Alumna Award. She also held the Caroline Doebler Bruckerl Faculty Award.
In 2000 she was named Goucher’s Elizabeth Conolly Todd Distinguished Professor.
A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Ignatius Roman Catholic Church, 740 N. Calvert Street, where she was a member.
In addition to her son, survivors include another son, Jeffrey Mazer of Portland, Ore.; two daughters, Sharon Nealon of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. and Julie Lee of Parkton; a brother, John Lawrence Githens of New York City; and five grandchildren. Her husband of 30 years died in 2003.