celebrating 50 years of the UConn Women's Center

 

 

Throughout 2022, we are proudly celebrating 50 years of educating, advocating, and providing support services for the achievement of women’s equity at the university and within the community at large. The Women’s Center was formally established in 1972, although our existence is clearly thanks to the dedication and activism of the feminist community which was well established before that. Throughout this page, find a portion of the story, but we know this could not reflect the diversity of perspectives and voices of all of those who were involved.

Women’s Center 50th Anniversary Celebration with Melissa Harris Perry

Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University where she teaches courses on American politics and elections at the intersections of race, place, and gender. She is the founder and President of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, an independent organization with a mission to advance justice and alleviate harm for women and girls of color in American higher education.  Along with Dorian Warren, she is co-host of the podcast System Check, with The Nation.

For nearly two decades, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and grounded wisdom applied to analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. She hosted the award winning television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC and in 2016, won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.

Co-sponsored by African American Cultural Center, Asian American Cultural Center, Puerto Rican/Latin American Cultural Center, Rainbow Center, Native American Cultural Programs, Middle Eastern Cultural Programs, Office for Diversity and Inclusion, Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, School of Fine Arts, School of Social Work, Neag School of Education, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, Law School's Constance Belton Green Diversity Fund, School of Pharmacy, Homer Babbidge Library, Office of the Provost, the Human Rights Institute, and the UConn Foundation.

Friday, November 4 at 7pm, Jorgensen Center for the Performing arts.
Reception immediately following at the Alumni Center.

 

 

November 4-5 events are free,
but RSVP is required here.

Join us to connect with Women's Center alumni/ae and friends!

Saturday, November 5, 11am-1pm, Student Union Ballroom

Bolstered by the national climate of the civil rights movement and the women’s liberation movement, a group of students, faculty, and community members began organizing in the late 1960’s in an effort to raise awareness of the issues facing women on campus. This led to the formation of the Free Women’s Collective in 1972, which had established a Women’s Center as a primary goal. In March of 1972, Elizabeth (Betty) Roper, the Director of the Continuing Education for Women program provided temporary space in the Bishop Center building for the Center. She also was responsible for overseeing the hiring of the first full-time Director.

Since then, the UConn Women's Center has remained dedicated to its mission, challenging the power structure that reinforces inequality based on the intersection of race and gender through events, programs, coalitions, and support services that fight for the rights of all women to control their bodies and destinies, to live their lives free of violence and abuse, to receive equal protection under the law and equal access to education, employment, and power.

Your gift helps support supplement programs to UConn's Women Center

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Calendar of Events


September

8th - Celebrating Art By Women - Opening Reception
You are invited you to an opening reception for 3 new exhibitions: "Ray Guns, Dames, and the Guilty Gaze: Feminism and the Golden Age of Science Fiction Pulps", "Wild Youth: Punk and New Wave from the 1970s and 1980s" and "Encounters with the Collection: Celebrating Art by Women"
Featuring an introduction to Wild Youth at 5:30pm with collector and punk rock aficionado Andrew Krivine.
Cash bar and light hors d'oeuvres. RSVP appreciated to benton@uconn.edu or 860.486.4520
Thursday, September 8, 2022, 4:00pm – 6:30pm, The William Benton Museum of Art

8th - Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi
Making their debut on the Jorgensen stage, Grammy Award-winning multi-genre artists Rhiannon Giddens & Francesco Turrisi bring their acclaimed blend of folk, blues, and country to Storrs. Acclaimed American musician and MacArthur “Genius Grant” recipient Rhiannon Giddens has made a name for herself as a soloist and collaborator in the country, folk, and blues communities. Giddens co-founded the Grammy award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, where she is the lead singer, fiddle player, and banjo player. In 2019, Giddens collaborated with Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi on there is no Other, and the duo paired up once more for their latest album They’re Calling Me Home. The 2022 Grammy award-winning album was recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown in Ireland and speaks to the longing for the comfort of home, as well as the metaphorical “call home” of death. Co-Sponsored by the H. Fred Simons African American Cultural Center & the UConn Women's Center
Sat, Oct 8, 8:00, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts

14th - Celebrating Art by Women
Join Benton educators for an interactive two-part workshop exploring Encounters with the Collection: Celebrating Art by Women. Learn more about works of art in the exhibition through close looking and discussion with Assistant Curator/Academic Liaison Amanda Douberley. Then try your hand at paper weaving with Curator of Education Mollie Sixsmith. Weaving, a craft historically associated with women, often features intricate patterns and color palettes. Drawing inspiration from this process, participants will experiment with paper weaving to create a set of colorful notecards. A materials kit will be available at the front desk one week before the program; free for UConn students and Museum members, $5 for non-members. Register at https://us06web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZwtfuuppjwrHdDDLYe4vGqDqGX4waobaspx
Wednesday, Sep 14, 2022 06:30 PM, Via Zoom

27th - Women’s Center 50th Birthday - Open House
Join us anytime between 12pm-2pm to celebrate our birthday!
Tuesday, 12-2, Women’s Center


October

8th - Celebration! A New Chapter for the M. Estelle Sprague Costume Collection Curated by Susan J. Jerome
In observance of the UConn Women’s Center’s 50th Anniversary, the Jorgensen Gallery will present an array of artifacts from the M. Estelle Sprague Collection that span from 1820 through the early 21st century. Over the last several years, this collection has become a notable resource for the University of Connecticut and the State of Connecticut. The exhibit will highlight the changing silhouette of women’s dress from the early nineteenth to twenty- first centuries, as well as garments donated by women who were UConn administrators and alumnae, and a clothing donation that tells the story of a Connecticut family currently housed in UConn Library’s Archives & Special Collections.
Opening Reception: Sat, Oct 8, 6 pm
Exhibition Dates: Oct 8, 2022 - Dec 9, 2022
Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts Gallery

21st – 23rd        Future Nurses for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Art Exhibit and Fundraiser
Future Nurses for Diversity Equity, and Inclusion student organization is collaborating with local artists to celebrate the Women’s Center and PRLACC’s 50th Anniversary. This event is a fundraiser and proceeds will be allocated to scholarships for minority nursing students. This event is open to all!
Student Union, Room 310
Friday: 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

26th - Activism Then and Now – Honoring our Legacy of Feminist Activism at UConn
In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Center, we invite you to join us to hear about the HERstory of the Women’s Center from founders, who will share stories of activism and leadership that led to the establishment of the Center, and activists that have taken up their mantel over the past 50 years.
Wednesday, 5pm, Konover Auditorium, Dodd Center


November

4th - Women’s Center 50th Anniversary Celebration with Melissa Harris Perry
Professor Melissa Harris-Perry is the Maya Angelou Presidential Chair at Wake Forest University where she teaches courses on American politics and elections at the intersections of race, place, and gender. She is the founder and President of the Anna Julia Cooper Center, an independent organization with a mission to advance justice and alleviate harm for women and girls of color in American higher education. Along with Dorian Warren, she is co-host of the podcast System Check, with The Nation.
For nearly two decades, Harris-Perry has contributed to American public life through her distinct combination of scholarly analysis and grounded wisdom applied to analysis of race, gender, politics, and power. She hosted the award winning television show “Melissa Harris-Perry” from 2012-2016 on weekend mornings on MSNBC and in 2016, won the Hillman Prize for broadcast journalism.
Co-sponsored by Office of the Vice President for Research, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Jorgensen Center for the Performing Arts, School of Fine Arts, School of Social Work, Neag School of Education, College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources, the Graduate School, Law School, School of Engineering, School of Pharmacy, School of Nursing, Homer Babbidge Library, Office of the Provost, and the Human Rights Institute.
Friday, 7pm, Jorgensen Center for the Performing arts. Reception immediately following at the Alumni Center.
Registration for both events will be posted shortly!

5th - Women’s Center 50th Anniversary Brunch
Join us to connect with Women’s Center Alumni, share stories and make new connections.
Saturday, 11am– 1pm, Student Union Ballroom - Registration link will be posted shortly!


Semester Long Series

Consciousness Collective
In recognition of our 50th Anniversary, we have created a series of peer-facilitated discussions based on this model focusing on anti-racist, feminist issues.
Feminist consciousness-raising groups began in the 1960s and were a significant part of the Women’s Movement at that time. They created space for women to be in community with one another, to learn from each other, and to find support, acceptance and validation of other women.
Tuesdays, 6pm, Women’s Center 9/13, 9/27, 10/11, 10/25

 


 

Women's Center Herstory

Our story shows what can happen when we build alliances and support networks in the name of social justice. Below, explore a timeline of key UConn Women's Center events over the past half-century, as well as a selection of alumni testimonials.

Historical Timeline

  • 1972

    Women’s Center is officially established. It includes a small library, counseling services, referral services, and rape crisis support and advocacy.

  • 1973

    Feminists take over Gulley Hall after Marcia Lieberman is denied tenure and told that her scholarly publications were of "questionable quality" (read feminist). Demands are made to interim President Gant that included her reinstatement, a women's studies program, and childcare.

  • 1974

    Cathy Havens hired as the first permanent director of the Women's Center. Women's Center and Continuing Education for Women (CEW) move to a house on Gilbert Road. There are now 15 collectives serving needs of gay students, divorced women, rape survivors and black students. In November,

  • 1975

    There are now 15 collectives serving needs of gay students, divorced women, rape survivors and black students.

  • 1976

    Establishment of literary magazine. Center is recognized as a state resource for women.

  • 1977

    Publications of several topic specific booklets and general newsletter. Establishment of Information Clearing House and Brown Bag Rap.

  • 1978

    Expanded affiliation with state and national organizations. Involvement in National ERA March.

  • 1979

    Chairing a Day of Metanoia after a brutal assault on campus. Rape Crisis Collective leaves the Women’s Center to become a community rape crisis center serving the Northeast region.

  • 1980

    Launched pornographic awareness program. Instituted a series of sexual harassment workshops.

  • 1981

    Rape Education Program established.

  • 1985

    Started Women’s WHUS Radio Collective. Offered career counseling series.

  • 1986

    Publication of CT Peer Project on Teen Pregnancy, Education, Attrition. Involvement with Project on Women and Technology and CT Women’s Network. Major advocacy efforts to improve child care on campus.

  • 1987

    Co-sponsored two national conferences, “Global Perspectives: Local Action, Equality, Development, and Peace” and “Women, Work, and Technology.”

  • 1988

    Publication of “Inching Toward Equality” and “Small Indignities/Large Affront: A Qualitative Study of Graduate Life.” Establishment of Vocational Equity Research Training Evaluation Center with School of Education.

  • 1989

    Publication of three research reports (Double Jeopardy – The Precarious Status of Women of Color, Child Care – Everyone’s Concern, and Traditional Dreams in a Changing World: Balancing Work and Family).

  • 1990

    Publishing of “It’s Our Shop Too!” Chairing a campus Day of Metanoia committee.

  • 1992

    Establishment of Mandatory Orientation Training for all incoming students on sexual assault and acquaintance rape. Expanded support groups for students, services for women of color, and advocacy services.

  • 2000

    Publication of three research reports (Double Jeopardy – The Precarious Status of Women of Color, Child Care – Everyone’s Concern, and Traditional Dreams in a Changing World: Balancing Work and Family). Planning Participant for the 100 Years of Women Celebration. Initiated ongoing sexual assault training for athletes. Involvement in “We Won’t Go Back” rally in Washington, DC.

  • 2001

    Helped organize the first Cultural Explosion and Love Your Body Day.

  • 2002

    Awarded the “Advancing the Status of Women” award from the Soroptimist International of Willimantic, CT and recognized at the Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund’s 15th Annual Hosted the 16th Annual Women’s Health Conference with the School of Nursing.

  • 2003

    Focused on staff development for full-time and student staff. Decision is made not to host Take Our daughters To Work Day due to the change by the national sponsors to include taking sons to work on that day as well.

  • 2004

    Many staff and students from the UConn Community participate in the March for Women’s Lives in Washington D.C.

  • 2005

    Women’s Center creates several new programming initiatives including “Creating Real Community”, “Celebrate Women Brown Bag Lunch Series”, “Support Staff Brown Bag Lunch”, and “Among Women”.

  • 2006

    Moves to the 4th floor of the Student Union. Launches “Don’t Cancel Your Class” program that allows faculty to work with Women’s Center staff to provide guest lectures when a faculty member is unavailable to teach.

  • 2007

    Ariel Levy, author of “Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the rise of Raunch Culture”, comes to speak to the University of Connecticut.

  • 2008

    The Women’s Center focuses on a Civic Engagement Project that attempts to enhance political interests of young women across campus and beyond for the Presidential election.

  • 2009

    The Women’s Center sponsored a lecture by Sheryl WuDunn, best-selling co-author of “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”.

  • 2010

    The Women’s Center initiates and is the primary organizer for the University’s Constitution Day program, which recognized the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment. Men's Project, a semester long program to train students who identify as men to positively influence their peers.

  • 2011

    The Women’s Center, along with the other Cultural Centers, becomes a part of the Division of Student Affairs.

  • 2012

    The Women’s Center collaborates with area high schools to develop a series of girls empowerment workshops - Girl 2 Girl (G2G). Greeks Against Sexual Assault (GASA)is launched. Celebrates their 40th Anniversary by inviting Gloria Steinem to the campus.

  • 2013

    Center served on the writing team for the University’s proposal, Next Generation Strategies for Advancing Gender Equity (Next Gen/SAGE), which was led by the Provost’s Office.  Served on the President’s Task Force on Civility and Campus Culture.

  • 2014

    Served on the Mandatory Sexual Assault Education/Prevention On-line Program Development Committee.  Co-sponsored 15th Annual International Human Rights Conference UNESCO Chair & Institute of Comparative Human Rights - Human Trafficking, Forced Labor and Exploitation.

  • 2015

  • Peer led Women In Stem (WiSTEM) mentoring program launched.

  • 2016

  • 2017

  • 2018

  • 2019

  • Women's Center launches In-Power, a peer led support group for victim-survivors of gender based violence. Women's Affinity Group for staff and faculty is launched.

  • 2020

  • COVID

  • 2021

  • Today

    This year marks our 50th anniversary.

Alumni Spotlight
Nicole Graf

Nicole Graf 2004

School Counselor

Apponequet Regional High School

I worked at the Center for my 4 years at UConn and to say that experience impacts my day-to-day would be a grand understatement. My experience at the Women’s Center has taught me to continue learning with an open mind, to be protective of and confident in my progressive worldview, and to lead an authentic, visible, proud life personally and professionally.

Victoria Flagg

Victoria Flagg 2011

Surgical Nurse

Middlesex Hospital

I have been able to use my experiences and education to more fully care for the each patient and their unique experiences by viewing them through an intersectional lens. I have taught about how preconceived notions impact trans individuals and create barriers in their ability to receive quality, compassionate care.

Nellie Stagg

Nellie Stagg 2013

Director of Rural Programs

Statewide Capacity Building Nonprofit

The Women’s Center helped me find my voice – I’ve been using it ever since and working to help others to find theirs. The respect, trust, and community of the Women’s Center set the standard for me of the kind of office and team I wanted to work for.

Greta Kenney

Greta Kenney 2006

Director of the Women’s Resource Center
Associate Dean of Students

Cornell University

The Women’s Center has been embedded in every job I’ve ever had—from being a case manager at a domestic violence/sexual assault non-profit to a diversity and inclusion practitioner in higher education. More than anything though—what I’m most grateful for is how the Women’s Center shaped the way I think, view, and experience the world.

Rachel Stewart

Rachel Stewart 2014

Director of Sexual Violence Prevention & Advocacy

Connecticut College

Being hired as a VAWPP facilitator completely changed my career path. Since graduation I have been working on college campuses supporting LGBTQ students and/or doing sexual violence prevention work.

Mick Powell

Mick Powell 2015

Assistant Professor in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

(my absolute dream job!)

University of Connecticut

My time as the Between Women Facilitator at the Women’s Center led me to continue to seek community after graduating, to carve and keep important space for queer and trans women and femmes. My time at the center was so rewarding and I couldn’t imagine being without such a thoughtful and intentional community!

Ajay Shenoy

Ajay Shenoy 2008

Assistant Professor of Economics

University of California

I went to the University of Michigan for graduate school. In large part because of my work at the WC, the university awarded me a fellowship aimed at fostering diversity. While at Michigan I spent all five years of grad school volunteering and working at UM’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center in the Men’s Activism Program.

Huong Nguyen

Huong Nguyen 2016

Academic Advisor

Student Success Center, San Jose State University

My experience as Graduate Assistant at the Women’s Center allowed me to understand the impact of language and to think critically when it comes to practices/policies.

See all alumni updates

These are only the highlights so look out for our newsletter for so much more!


 

Tell Us Your Story

The Women’s Center Invites Alumni Stories & Photos for Inclusion in 50th Anniversary Celebration

As part of the Women’s Center’s 50th anniversary, we hope to tell the stories of all of the folx who have been a part of our herstory. Please get in touch and share your story! We welcome reflections on time spent at the Women’s Center and stories about life after college. These stories will become a significant part of 50th anniversary celebration and our herstory.

 

We are also requesting that alumni send photos of themselves and peers from when they were at the Center, as well as current pictures. Please identify those in the pictures. These pictures may be showcased at the events which will take place honoring our 50th anniversary.

Share Your Story

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    UConn Women's Center 50th Anniversary Celebration Weekend

    November 4-5, 2022

    Reconnect with old friends, meet some new ones, and help us build a stronger and more connected alumni affinity groups. Check this page for details to come.

    Feminism in the belief that all women have the right to control their bodies and destinies; the right to live a life free of violence and abuse; the right to equal protection under the law, including equal access to education, employment, and power.

    — UConn Women’s Center

    Signature Event

    Take Back the Night is a decade long tradition, honoring victim-survivors of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and harassment.

    2020 Take Back the Night poster graphic, which shows to hands holding tight in the dark

    Take Back The Night

    2022 — Speak Out & Candlelight Ceremony

    Honoring victim-survivors of sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, stalking, and harassment through poetry, stories, song, and open mic.

    Free Food and Drink provided. Gender inclusive!

    Learn More

    Take Back the Night 2021

    Rooted in Resilience

    2021

    This year we demonstrate our strength overcoming unique challenges this year brought us, and finding inspiration to move forward.

    Learn More

    2020 Take Back the Night poster featuring a soaring phoenix

    Falling, Rebuilding, Soaring.

    2020

    An evening of empowerment and healing for survivors of gender-based violence. Join us for our solidarity march, speak out, and late night discussion.

    Learn More

    Our Students

    Our student staff members have filled key roles to keep the Women's Center running for 50 years.

     

    Current Staff  Student Legacy

    Photo from the 1975 Nutmeg Yearbook illustrate support for women’s issues on campus in the 1970s.

    1973

    student staff 2020

    2020