Feb. 21, 2007
By Meryl Smith
There were many reasons to celebrate the grand opening of the new Baker Center on Feb. 10, but a truly momentous event was the dedication and ribbon cutting of the long-awaited Ohio University Women's Center.
Women and men of all ages, cultures, race and backgrounds gathered in witnessing this very important occasion in the university's history.
"This new center is the product of a culmination of various attempts in the past to create a women's center," said Beatrice Selotlegeng, interim director of the Women's Center. "It is a place where issues affecting women can be discussed and given the prominence they deserve. This new center will make a mark on the history of Ohio University and I am honored to be a part of that."
Selotlegeng will serve as the interim director until the end of June 2007, when it is anticipated that a permanent director will be named.
"We are fortunate to have someone like Professor Selotlegeng to launch the Women's Center. She will be an effective leader, a strong advocate and an inspiring role model for women students, faculty and staff," Provost Kathy Krendl said.
Prior to coming to Ohio University, Selotlegeng worked to promote women's issues in her native country of Botswana. Her previous positions include president of the Botswana Business and Professional Women's Association and board member of several groups related to women's issues, including the Women's Finance House, an affiliate of Women's World Banking headquartered in New York. She also was responsible for the recruitment, training and development of the first Botswana Women Aircraft Engineers and Pilots.
Women's Center mission statement
The Ohio University Women's Center serves as a catalyst to promote awareness, understanding and action about gender, equity and women's issues in the university and surrounding communities. To accomplish its mission, the center is committed to:
- Enriching recruitment and retention of underrepresented and underserved students, faculty, and staff with unique resources and programs on women and gender
- Developing regional partnerships for education and research that examine and respond to issues of gender, women, and equity
- Providing a visible space, a hub of activity, for collaborations with students, colleagues across campus, and community members
- Delivering leadership opportunities, educational programming, advocacy, mentoring, networking, and resource referral
- Promoting research and scholarship on gender and women in collaboration with faculty and student scholars
- Unifying and communicating the messages and availability of programs and services across campus and in the community that address issues of gender, women, and equity
- Serving as a resource to connect students and community to research, scholarships, grants, internships, and careers
First Lady Deborah McDavis, Krendl, Selotlegeng and many others expressed the importance of having the space, which serves as a catalyst to promote awareness, understanding and action about gender, equity and women's issues in the university and surrounding communities.
The Women's Center will serve as an integral campus resource to connect students and community to research, scholarships, grants, internships and careers. Currently, it is collecting materials to include in its library and donations of periodicals, books and other materials, are being accepted. Volunteers may also offer services, such as teaching a class on an issue or topic that is of special interest to women.
"The world needs our knowledge and wisdom. Organizations need our clarity, our families need our clarity, we need our clarity," McDavis said. "This center will be a dynamic place where women of different backgrounds can exchange ideas and it will make it possible to achieve our potential."
General feelings of the crowd were expressed and applauded after Krendl exclaimed, "It's been a long time coming."
Members of the Athens and university community are welcome to visit the new center, located on Baker's fourth floor. The doors are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Your input is desired to help the center meet the needs of the community it serves. Send suggestions for possible speakers, workshops, etc. to Marlene Jenkins at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Smith is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.