Women’s Center kicks off series of events in honor of 40th anniversary

The Margaret Cuninggim Women's Center (Vanderbilt University)
The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center (Vanderbilt University)

The Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center is kicking off a series of events Thursday, Sept. 6, to mark its 40th anniversary this year. The events are scheduled throughout the fall semester, culminating in a birthday celebration on Nov. 1.

The Sept. 6 kickoff, scheduled from noon to 2 p.m. at the Women’s Center, will feature live music, games and activities, free food and commemorative T-shirts celebrating the milestone.

“Since opening in 1978, the Women’s Center has been involved in significant efforts to make the experiences of women at Vanderbilt more equitable,” Rory Dicker, director of the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center, said. “Among the center’s accomplishments are its role in the creation of Vanderbilt’s first child care center and the implementation of a parental leave policy for tenured and tenure-track faculty members. Center staff developed programs to address sexual violence prevention and response, efforts that led to the launch of the Project Safe Center in 2014, and partnered on a breastfeeding awareness campaign and the designation of lactation spaces on campus.

“Today, the Women’s Center continues its efforts in varied ways, through its comprehensive sexuality education program, its salary negotiation workshops, and its dialogue series aimed at students, faculty and staff,” Dicker said.

The kickoff also will mark the launch of a new exhibit at the Women’s Center that will highlight the changes that Vanderbilt has seen in women’s experiences since the center opened. This new exhibit is in addition to the recently unveiled exhibit at the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries exploring the history of women at Vanderbilt.

The series of programs being offered by the Women’s Center in honor of its 40th anniversary will explore many topics, including feminism, academic leadership, student life, history, sports and more. The Women’s Center also has developed a walking tour, “The History of Women at Vanderbilt,” that will highlight spaces on campus related to women’s history. You can join a tour on Oct. 12 at 3 p.m. or 4 p.m., or visit the Women’s Center website to do a self-guided version at your own convenience.

Upcoming programs in the series include:

“Women’s Changing Place at Vanderbilt”

Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 12:15 p.m., Buttrick 123

Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center Director Rory Dicker will speak about the multiple ways that women students have been simultaneously included and excluded at Vanderbilt since the late 19th century.

“Women and Academic Leadership: A Panel with Elizabeth Langland, Menah Pratt-Clarke and Beverly Daniel Tatum”

Friday, Sept. 21, at noon, Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center

Panelists include:

  • Beverly Daniel Tatum, president emerita of Spelman College and author of the highly acclaimed book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria.
  • Elizabeth Langland, director of the Institute for Humanities Research at Arizona State University and interim dean of humanities, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Langland sued Vanderbilt in the 1980s when she was denied tenure by the dean of the College of Arts and Science after the department had voted in her favor.
  • Menah Pratt-Clarke, vice president for strategic affairs and vice provost for inclusion and diversity at Virginia Tech.

“Getting Women in Vanderbilt’s Game: The Trailblazing Career of Stella Vaughn”

Tuesday, Sept. 25, at 12:15 p.m., Robert Penn Warren Center

Mona Frederick, executive director of the Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities, will give a talk about the trailblazing career of Stella Vaughn, who was Vanderbilt’s first women’s basketball coach.

“Reflecting on the Past: Student Life for Vanderbilt Women in the 1970s”

Tuesday, Oct. 2, at 12:15 p.m., Sarratt 216/220

This panel discussion, comprised of four alumnae who were students when the Women’s Center opened, will examine what student life looked like for Vanderbilt women during the 1970s.

To see the full listing of events honoring the Margaret Cuninggim Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, visit the Women’s Center website.