Wright State Women’s Center to celebrate 30th anniversary

Wright State alumnae and WYSO staff members Jocelyn Robinson, left, and Juliet Fromholt will give the keynote address at the Wright State Women’s Center’s 30th anniversary celebration.

The Women’s Center at Wright State University will commemorate 30 years on campus with a celebration on Saturday, Oct. 21, from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Endeavour Room in the Student Union.

This semi-formal event will feature a dinner and a keynote address from Wright State alumnae Juliet Fromholt, music director and host of “Kaleidoscope” and “Alpha Rhythms” on WYSO, and Jocelyn Robinson, director of radio preservation and archives at WYSO.

The evening will be capped off with a reception in the new Women’s Center space in 023 Student Union. Light refreshments will be served.

Registration is required and can be completed online.

Although the is a free event, the Women’s Center is asking attendees for a $30 donation to celebrate its 30 years at Wright State. Donors can choose whether their donation supports the Women’s Center Student Emergency Fund, which helps students continue their education when facing financial challenges, or the Women’s Center Opportunity Fund, which allows money to go where it is most needed.

The Women’s Center is also accepting online donations. All who donate will be entered into a raffle.

Fromholt, who graduated from Wright State with a bachelor’s degree in classical humanities in 2007, began volunteering at WYSO while working as program director and general manager at WWSU, Wright State’s campus radio station.

“Starting my radio career at Wright State was the beginning of my understanding of the power that each of our voices can have,” said Fromholt. “Places on campus like the Women’s Center provide safe, affirming and equitable spaces for people who are learning and harnessing the power of their voices. We need them now more than ever.”

Robinson earned a bachelor’s degree in art history and a graduate certificate in public history with a focus on archives administration from Wright State and a master’s degree in cultural studies, race, gender and identity from Antioch University. Before taking on her current role at WYSO, she served as an adjunct faculty member at Antioch.

“Thirty years is an important milestone, but we also need to stay vigilant,” said Robinson. “I’m glad to help the Women’s Center celebrate, but also to support its gender equity activism, here at Wright State and in the wider community.”

Officially opened in 1993, the Wright State’s Women’s Center is an inclusive, safe environment where students, faculty, staff and community members can feel supported, challenged, encouraged and connected. The center unites people interested in gender equity activism and education and offers opportunities to explore how gender impacts all lives through programs, resources and strategic partnerships.

“From its inception, the center has served as a space for community care, scholarship, and effecting change,” said Bobbie Szabo, assistant director of the Women’s Center. “We have evolved as the women’s rights movement has evolved, and we have listened to the specific needs of our community. We acknowledge our intersections — race, sexuality, age, socioeconomic status, ability/disability, parental status, relationship status — and the vibrant culture created when these identities are heard and valued.”

Although calls for the space began in the early 1970s, after the founding of the university, institutional support for a formal Women’s Center did not pick up momentum until 20 years later. In 1990, retired Dayton teacher Gertrude Chasens began a letter-writing campaign to Wright State leadership arguing for the need for both a Women’s Center and a Women’s Studies Program.

This campaign eventually inspired Charles Hathaway, who was vice president for academic affairs at the time, to appoint a Task Force on the Status of Women in the Academy at Wright State University, which was chaired by Mary Beth Pringle.

The task force released a report, “Status of Women Faculty and Unclassified Staff at Wright State University Report, 1993,” which offered a number of suggestions on how Wright State could “increase its sensitivity to women’s issues and its commitment to promoting gender and ethnic harmony.”

The two biggest solutions offered were the creation of a Women’s Center and a Women’s Studies Program.

On Feb. 26, 1993, the Wright State University Women’s Center opened in Rike Hall and was run temporarily by Pringle. Paulette Olson was later appointed to an interim position before Kelli Zaytoun Byrne was hired as the first full-time director of the Women’s Center in 1995.

In 1994, the Women’s Studies Committee formalized a Women’s Studies Program at Wright State. Individual women-centered courses had been offered previously, but a formal minor program was not approved until 1997.

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