The Women’s Center and Women’s Studies Program celebrated Women’s History Month in March along with the rest of the country. This month, the history of women at BGSU will be celebrated Friday and Saturday (April 18 and 19) at “10-30-100,” the Women’s Studies Reunion Gala marking the 10th anniversary of the Women’s Center, the 30th anniversary of women’s studies at BGSU and the upcoming centennial of the University. Attending the homecoming celebration will be alumnae, current undergraduate and graduate students, and former and current faculty and staff.
“The gala will commemorate women’s participation on campus at all levels in the past, see where we are today and celebrate future possibilities,” said Rona Klein, English and co-organizer of the event with Dr. Laura Sanchez, sociology.
Special guest Margaret Schroeder of Weston, a 100-year old BGSU alumna who graduated in 1925, will attend a luncheon in her honor on Saturday. Also honored at the event will be the longest-serving women faculty and staff members.
The third annual Women’s Studies Research Symposium student presentations will kick off the celebration, from 9 a.m. to noon Friday in 206 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, followed by two alumnae presentations. The first, “The Women We Come From,” from 1-2:15 p.m., focuses on key activities from the past that helped lead the way for current students, faculty and staff. The second, “The Women We Became,” from 2:30-3:45 p.m., focuses on the unique professional accomplishments of alumnae.
Following a 4 p.m. reception in 228 Union, a panel with the current and former women’s studies directors will be held from 5:30-6:30 p.m. Participating will be Drs. Susan Arpad, who served from 1978-87; Ellen Berry, 1992-96; Alice Calderonello, 1996-97; Kathleen Dixon, 1997-98; Vickie Shields, 1998-2001; Opportune Zongo, 2001-02; Jeannie Ludlow, 2002-03, and current director Dr. Vikki Krane, who has served since 2003.
Other directors were Dr. Marilyn Friedman, 1984-87; Dympna Calahan, 1987-88, and Karen Gould, 1987-92.
Friday evening, attendees will have dinner and a dance, as well as an interactive dance presentation led by members of the Chapman Community Middle Eastern Dance/Health Promotion Project.
Saturday morning’s activities will focus on past diversity at BGSU, including a presentation on women on campus in its nearly 100-year history.
During the two-day gala, a recording booth will be set up to capture short video interviews with returning guests about what BGSU has meant in their lives.
Except for the lunch and dinner, for which reservations were required, gala events are open to the public. For more information, contact Klein at firstname.lastname@example.org or 2-6837, or Sanchez at email@example.com or 2-7252.
Building a program and a center
A committee to explore women’s studies was charged by College of Arts and Sciences Dean John Erikson in 1977 and chaired by Arpad. When the program got under way in January 1978, with Arpad as coordinator and no full-time faculty, it was the first women’s studies program in Ohio.
Initially housed in the Administration Building next to the dean’s office, it soon moved to two rooms in South Hall, which was empty and awaiting renovation. Next came a move to a hotel suite in the Student Union during the mid-1980s.
In 2003, under Krane’s direction, the program finally came to rest in East Hall, and in 2005 a group of student artists gave it an identity with a large mural commemorating important women in history.
Over the years, the program has grown, and the graduate certificate program in women’s studies began in spring 2000.
Today, the program explores how being female, male or transgendered affects individuals’ experiences in our society. Graduates can pursue careers as sexual- or domestic-abuse educators, victim advocates, counselors, therapists, human rights activists, nonprofit organization directors, energy conservationists, public relations specialists, writers, artists, university professors, consultants, librarians and ministers, in addition to other careers.
The Women’s Center also had a bit of a rocky start.
“It took almost 20 years for the proposal for a Women’s Center to be responded to favorably by the institution,” said Mary Krueger, director of the center.
After recommendations by the University Task Force on Women’s Advocacy, the center finally opened in 1998, with just three staff members: two secretaries and a graduate student. Those three women, who will be in attendance at the gala, are Cindy Fisher, Susan Huffine and Dr. Jane Rosser, currently the director of the Office of Service-Learning.
Although the Women’s Center has changed over time, its goals haven’t. The center strives to bring visibility to issues affecting women on campus through proactive and responsive programming, coordinate and facilitate access to resources relevant to women’s issues, promote the integration of women’s issues into campus culture and discourse, advocate the removal of barriers that inhibit full participation of women in the University community, and work cooperatively with other organizations with related interests and functions.
The center offers an array of programs of interest to women and the rest of the campus, and is the home of numerous interest groups such as the Women’s Research Network.
The center has accomplished much in its 10-year history. A major achievement came in 2000, when Krueger was instrumental in securing a two-year, $400,000 grant for the Transformation Project, a federally funded effort to address violence against girls and women on college campuses through education and victim advocacy.
To learn more about the reunion gala, visit http://www.bgsu.edu/departments/wmst/anniversary/sched.htm.