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Center History

History of the Center for Women at Case Western Reserve University: 1967-2002

Writing a living history is a process.  We hope that in the near future we will have a comprehensive history of this journey. For over 30 years students, faculty, staff, alumnae, and administrators at this University have been committed to making this dream come true. Each person in this mass of individuals has a part in the story.  Weaving all of it together will be a gift of thanks to all who have taken part in making this dedication a reality. It is most important to acknowledge our legacy which dates back to 1888 when The College for Women was founded.

‌Flora Stone Mather was the leading benefactress of the College.  She worked most generously on behalf of the College for Women and was fully devoted to the education of women.  Her name was given to the College in 1931 and it became known as Flora Stone Mather College for Women (FSMC) under the trusteeship of Western Reserve University.  The name, Flora Stone Mather, is engraved in the history of this University.

Flora Stone Mather as a young woman

Flora Stone Mather

Recollections from 1967 to 2002

The year 1967 marked a remarkable change in this University.  It was the year when the Federation or "Agreement of Consolidation" was ‌approved by the boards of Western Reserve University and Case Institute of Technology.  This was the beginning of the demise of FSMC(The last class to graduate from Flora Stone Mather College was 1972). FSMC was always recognized for its outstanding liberal arts curriculum and for developing exceptional women leaders.

The late sixties was a tumultuous time nationally and locally. There was student unrest and disgruntlement on campuses all over the country. It was also the time of the Second Wave of the feminist movement launched by Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique, published in 1963. Change for women was in the air.

At this time Elizabeth Hastings, Dean of FSMC, expressed interest in a Women's Resource Center.

She obviously saw the handwriting on the wall and was thinking of the future of education for the women at the University. She enlisted help in 1967-68 to conduct a survey of Mather alumnae 15 years out of school to learn what they were doing. Her purpose was to assess traditional and non-traditional fields for women (Lois Schoch and Pru Randall were part of this committee). Hastings started a Dean's discretionary fund for a Women's Resource Center.

1968: A Contraceptive Clinic

‌During this same time and in her own quiet way Elizabeth Walker, the Associate Dean, was making waves. Long before the sexual revolution she convinced the administration that they had to have a contraceptive clinic. This was accomplished with the cooperation of Planned Parenthood and the University Health Services.

A clinic was established in the basement of the health service with a separate entrance and separate files. In 1968, she thought the time had come for a co-ed dormitory. She prevailed with the administration. For the dean who always considered herself the spinster dean, she was the most revolutionary for women's rights.

1969: A Mather Institute

In September 1969, President Robert Morse, appointed a Commission on Education at Mather and Adelbert Colleges (CEMAC). The CEMAC report, published in January 1970, called attention to the special educational needs of women and the University's obligation to meet these needs.

The Commission recommended establishing a Mather Institute modeled in part on the Radcliffe Institute. It advocated for continuing education for women to help and encourage women to reach their professional goals.  An area of concern was the importance of displaying evidence that the University was demonstrably promoting professional equality for women.

Women's Studies Advocated

In the late 1960s, a women's caucus group advocated for women's studies. They approached Bo Heald, chair of the American Studies Program, and asked for courses in women's studies.  The first such course was taught in 1970.

1971: Ms. Magazine Founded

Nationally, Gloria Steinem was actively leading the way. She co-founded Ms. Magazine in 1971. Everywhere it was evident that women's issues could not be ignored.

1971: President's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women

In 1971, President Toepfer established the President's Advisory Committee on the Status of Women in the University. Patricia Kilpatrick chaired this committee. A report was submitted in January 1973 following intensive research (a questionnaire and interviews with women from all areas of the University).

Informal Women's Center in Spartan

During this same time and to the mid-seventies there was an informal women's center that resided in the Spartan Room on the third floor in Thwing Center. It was generated, organized and run by students and may have been registered as a club.  Things quieted down some during the eighties but there remained an undercurrent of women's voices craving to be heard. In the late 1980s, two events stand out as memorable for women at this University.

1987: Patricia Kilpatrick First Woman Vice President ‌

In 1987, Patricia Kilpatrick was named the first woman vice president at this University.
This was glorious news for all women on this campus.

1988: Flora Stone Mather Centennial

In 1988, The Flora Stone Mather Alumnae Association (FSMAA) had its Centennial Celebration of the Establishment of Education of Women at Case Western Reserve University. This superbly organized and splendid day-long symposium focused on the higher education of women: yesterday, today, and tomorrow.  It was exactly what the women on this campus needed.   It generated an excitement and empowerment. Women on this campus were not going to sit back and wait, they became proactive.

1990's: Toward a Women's Center

In the 1990s, a host of women worked toward the achievement of a women's center at the University.  The history of this process is difficult because so many people were involved in a multitude of ways.   We are still piecing together all that occurred and listing all who took part.  Please understand that the names mentioned are not meant to be the comprehensive list of all who worked on this effort.  It is a beginning.

The safe thing to do would be to list no one, but we want to be among those who write women back into history, not out of it, as our society is prone to do.  If you have a story to tell, or a name to add, especially yours, please let us know so that everyone can have the recognition deserved.

1990: Second Study of the Status of Women Faculty

In December of 1990, Professor Jerry Liebman, Chair of the Faculty Senate, appointed an ad hoc committee to study the status of women faculty at the University.  Members of this committee were:  Susan Case, Michael Grossberg, Kathryn Karipides (chair), Robert Lawry, Janet McGrath, Mary Lou Miller, Lucille Mayne (she had also served on the 1971 committee), Ann Penn, Marcia Petchers, Benjamin Segall, and Angela Woollacott. The report was completed in June 1991.

Although the 1971 study was different in many ways, the committee found that we were still confronted with the same issues and many of the same deficiencies with respect to the status of women in the University.

Betty Friedan author, "The Feminist Mystique"

Betty Friedan

Elizabeth Hastings in retirement years

Elizabeth Hastings

Profile photohgraph

Pru Randall

Elizabeth Walker black and white photo

Elizabeth Walker

University President Robert Morse

Robert Morse

A young Gloria Steinem speaking in front of a microphone

Gloria Steinem

President Toepfer

President Toepfer

Patricia Kilpatrick

Pat Kilpatrick

1992: University Committee on the Status of Women Faculty Appointed ‌

One of two overriding recommendations was that there be appointed a University Committee on the Status of Women Faculty, with members appointed jointly by the President and the Faculty Senate.  Professor Karen Moore chaired the first Committee on the Status of Women Faculty in AY1992-93.

Under her leadership the first proposal for a Women's Resource Center was drafted.

Having a voice in the Faculty Senate was encouraging but no assurance that the committee's recommendations would be readily supported. Nevertheless it was progress. Chairs of this committee include Antoinette Graham (1993-94), Janet McGrath (1994-95), Patricia Brennan (1995-96), Nahida Gordon (1996-98), Margaretmary Daley (1998-2001), Sue Pearlmutter (2001-02 , 2003-04), Laura Chisholm (2002- 03).

Throughout this time the Women's Faculty Association (WFA) was also a strong voice for women faculty.

1994: The Association of Women Students (AWS) resurfaces

In spring 1994, the Association of Women Students (AWS) resurfaced with a core group of women who fulfilled the guidelines for recognition as a student organization under Student Activities.

This group was steered by Christina Welter, Kristen Manter, April Golda, Olga Chwascinska, Colleen Sanders, and Sara Kersey, to name just a few.  This student organization was a vital component in the journey. By fall 1994, they were in full swing.

The AWS organized a dynamic series of discussions and speakers.   One such meeting was with the FSMAA bringing together women from several generations, all with an interest in supporting women's issues, both on campus and in the greater community. Working in concert, the Committee on the Status of Women Faculty, the Women's Faculty Association, and the Association of Women Students were united in their mission - the establishment of a women's center at CWRU.

Karen Moore

Karen Moore

‌1995: Proposal for the Creation of a Women's Resource Center at CWRU‌

In January 1995, the Faculty Senate appointed a Women's Resource Center Task Force.  Members included John Aram, Cynthia Beall, Lynn Cates, Kathy Chapman, Barbara Collins, Susan Jaros, Joyce Jentoft, Gwen Johnson, Beth McGee, Meenoo Mishra, Jennifer Newman, Pru Randall, Danielle Ripich (chair, spring 1996), Mim Rosenthal, Amy Sachs, Janet Short, Susan Troia, Christina Welter, and Angela Woollacott (chair, fall 1995).

In April 1995, under the leadership of Janet McGrath, the Committee on the Status of Women Faculty and the Association of Women Students drafted a revised proposal for the creation of a Women's Resource Center at CWRU.

The proposal was submitted and the Faculty Senate voted in the spring of 1996 to support the founding of a University women's center to promote and organize resources and activities for women students, faculty, alumnae, and staff at CWRU.   A task force was formed by the Senate to develop plans for the Center's organization and budget. It was about this time that the name Women's Resource Center was changed to The University Women's Center.

1997: FSMAA Funds "Woman 2000: Forging a Vision"

‌Working analogous to the women at the University was the FSMAA. They had always advocated for women's education and to perpetuate the legacy of Flora Stone Mather.

In 1997, the FSMAA board decided to fund a major colloquium on women's issues.  Alberta Kelvie was president of the Association and served as chair of Woman 2000: Forging a Vision which took place on April 8, 2000.

In Bert's own words, "Sponsorship of this symposium is a logical extension of the FSMAA's long-term interest in the issues that impact women's lives and in the establishment of a full-fledged women's center on the campus of CWRU."

1997: University Women's Coalition (UWC) Formed

‌In 1997, Suzanne Ferguson, Chair-Elect, Faculty Senate, and Acting Chair, Task Force on the Women's Center, proposed that the women's organizations on campus join in a coalition of women's groups becoming the University Women's Coalition (UWC) (precursor to the Center for Women). She actively solicited and received pledges from the academic deans (Scott Cowan, then Dean of the Weatherhead School of Management, led the way) and received a generous gift from the FSMAA.

In spring 1998, three students from AWS made another visit to the CWRU President.  This visit was a success.  President Pytte designated $100,000 toward the funding of a physical space and for hiring a coordinator for the purpose of a women's center.

1997: UWC Takes Residence at Bellflower House

In 1997, under the guidance of Suzanne Ferguson and Pru Randall, the University Women's Coalition took two very significant steps toward becoming a center (in function if not yet in name) - the UWC took up residence in the first floor of Bellflower House and hired Dani Robbins-Zulich as its first director (half time).

The UWC was a smart way to transition into a full-fledged Center for Women.  Not long after the success of Woman 2000, Dani Robbins-Zulich took a full time position in Texas.  For two years the UWC was under the leadership of part-time interim directors (graduate students, one was Amanda Booher) with advisement from faculty member Eleanor Stoller in 2000-01 and Jacqueline Nanfito in 2001-02.

2000: President's Advisory Council on Women Appointed

Concurrently the President's Advisory Council on Women was appointed in fall 2000.

Members of this Council were Barbara Andelman, Mary Barkley, Amanda Booher, Patricia Higgins, Susan Jaros, Susan Nickel-Schindewolf, Ann Penn, Clare Rimnac, Julie Setele, Lynn Singer, Cyrus Taylor, Ariann Weitzman, and Angela Woollacott, council chair.  Angela went on leave spring semester 2001 and Mary Barkley became chair and Alice Bach joined the Council.  In the summer of 2001, the Council submitted a proposal for a comprehensive women's center on CWRU's central campus.

The proposal received the endorsement of Jim Wagner, Interim President, and Lynn Singer, Interim Provost.  An executive committee (spin off of the Council) was named to work on budget and to carry out the search for a full-time director.  Members of the committee were Alice Bach (chair), Joanne Eustis, Nancy Johnson, Dean Patterson, and Anne Hiltner.

Janet McGrath

Janet McGrath

 Alberta Kelvie

Alberta Kelvie

Suzanne Ferguson

Suzanne Ferguson

‌2002: Center for Women Director Hired

‌In September 2002, Dr. Dorothy Miller began her appointment as the first Director of the Center for Women at Case Western Reserve.

She quickly went about making plans for a more permanent and central space in Thwing Student Center, and by May of 2003 the Center moved from Bellflower House to a brand new Center for Women, complete with three offices, a lounge, conference room, computer area, kitchen and storage area.

An administrative assistant, Ginette Boyarko was soon hired and later, a health Advocate, Dana Blocker.

Dorothy Miller

Dorothy Miller