Margaret Marsh holds the title of University Professor at Rutgers University and divides her time between the Faculty of Arts and Sciences on the Camden campus and the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research on the New Brunswick campus of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS). She has served twice as Interim Chancellor of Rutgers University–Camden, most recently from 2020 to 2021. From 1998 to 2011, she served in several senior leadership positions at the university, including Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School at Rutgers-Camden (1998-2007 and 2009-2010), Executive Dean (2010-2011), and Interim Chancellor (2007-2009).
Among the major achievements of her tenure as dean and first term as interim chancellor at Rutgers were the development and implementation of Rutgers–Camden’s first Ph.D. programs. The Ph.D. program in Childhood Studies, approved in 2006 and formally inaugurated the following year, was both Rutgers–Camden’s first Ph.D. program and the first in this field in the United States. Two other Ph.D. programs, in Public Affairs/Community Development and Computational and Integrative Biology, were approved in 2009. These programs launched the transformation of Rutgers–Camden from a Master’s level to a doctoral research university. That process was completed in 2018, when Rutgers University–Camden was formally designated a Doctoral Research University.
Since 1989 Professor Marsh has collaborated with her sister, Wanda Ronner, a gynecologist. They have written three books. The most recent is The Pursuit of Parenthood: Reproductive Technology from Test-Tube Babies to Uterus Transplants, (2019), which complements their previous work in the history of infertility, reproductive sexuality, and reproductive medicine. Their first book, The Empty Cradle: Infertility in America from Colonial Times to the Present, provided a comprehensive history of the attitudes towards, the experience of, and the medical treatment for, infertility beginning in the colonial period. Their second, The Fertility Doctor: John Rock and the Reproductive Revolution, explored the development of the field of reproductive medicine through the life and career of one of the most prominent infertility specialists of the mid-twentieth century, John Rock, who later became famous as the co-developer of the oral contraceptive. After spending so many years thinking and writing about fertility and infertility in history, Marsh and Ronner decided to bring their unique perspective to the late twentieth and early twenty-first century transformation in reproductive medicine and technology. The Pursuit of Parenthood explores the interconnected stories of the scientists and physicians who developed and employed the new reproductive technologies (often united under the singular term assisted reproductive technology) and of the women and men who use – or in some cases are unable to use – them. The book also examines the overlapping social, political, and cultural frameworks in which these technologies were developed, and it explores the moral and ethical controversies they engender.
The research for The Pursuit of Parenthood was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which awarded Professor Marsh and Dr. Ronner an Investigator Award in Health Policy Research. Marsh was also the PI, with Dr. Ronner as co-PI, on two major multi-year research grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities – the first for The Empty Cradle from 1990-1994, and the second, from 1999 to 2005, for The Fertility Doctor. Professor Marsh has also been a History Fellow at the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology and a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow. In 1996 she received Temple University’s Paul W. Eberman Faculty Research Prize for excellence in scholarly contributions, and The Empty Cradle was named an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice Magazine. The Pursuit of Parenthood was a finalist for the 2020 PROSE Award in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology.
Marsh is also the author of two sole-authored books, Anarchist Women (1981) and Suburban Lives (1990), and numerous articles in journals including the American Quarterly, the Journal of American History, and Pennsylvania History, and of chapters in books on topics ranging from the history of motherhood to the history of masculinity.
In recognition of both her scholarship and service to the university, Rutgers named her a University Professor in June, 2009. In 2010, she was inducted into the Rutgers Hall of Distinguished Alumni. In January of 2022 she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).
Professor Marsh’s record of service to her profession and the community has included serving on numerous non-profit boards and committees including the Richard Stockton Foundation from 1977-1981 (as Vice-President); the New Jersey Humanities Council (1983-1990); the College Outcomes Evaluation Committee of the New Jersey Department of Higher Education (1986-1988); the Board of Directors of the Urban History Association (1994 -1997; and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Selection Committee for History Fellows (1990 – 2018). She served as Liaison Officer for the Faculty Resources Network for the Ford Foundation and New York University in 1984 and 1985 and has chaired several prize committees and nominating committees for various professional organizations. She has chaired the Finance Committee of the American Association for the History of Medicine and served as Treasurer for the organization. She also served as Treasurer and Member of the Executive Committee of Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey until its merger in October of 2016 and is a member of the Board of Trustees of Moore College of Art and Design. She served as a consultant for the film, Emma Goldman: An Exceedingly Dangerous Woman, has been interviewed on various topics by NPR and the Discovery Health Channel. She also appeared in two PBS American Experience documentaries, one on the birth control pill and the other on in vitro fertilization. For the latter program, she also served as a consultant.