Kent State Women’s Center Celebrates Silver Anniversary
With the celebration of Women’s History Month in March, it seemed fitting that the Kent State Women’s Center would officially kick off its 25th anniversary.
It will continue throughout 2021.
Talks for an actual Women’s Center on campus first started in March 1995, when President Carol Cartwright –the first woman president at a state school in Ohio - appointed a Women’s Center Committee. Members of the committee would reflect the diversity of talented people committed to the notion of an actual Women’s Center at Kent State. After careful planning, a presentation made to the Kent State University Board of Trustees in November of 1995 explained why it would benefit the campus.
It was approved.
Soon after, a transformation of what once was the president’s mansion’s carriage house into a fully accessible and functional Women’s Center began. On November 13, 1996, with plenty of pomp and circumstance, an open house and reception not only celebrated its opening but announced to the community the center was ready to assist and advocate for women.
Flash forward 25 years later and current Director Cassie Pegg-Kirby, who has been at the Women’s Center since 2012 but in her current position since 2018, credits the collective approach taken 25 years ago to ensure its continued success.
“We have always been about making sure everyone has a seat at the table and intentionally looking around to see who is missing,” she said. “From day one, we provided initiatives and efforts to raise awareness, educate, and take action on issues impacting our community.”
Pegg-Kirby also credits the Women’s Center with cultivating opportunities for women across the campus and beyond. They include Elect Her, Mothers, Mentors, Muses, (R)Evolution leadership class, and the Sage Project. Regular events such as Feminist Fridays and Women of Color Collective have further impact students' lives.
The Women’s Center has also helped students financially, with scholarships allowing for investment in students' success.
“We have been able to give out $1000’s of dollars to help students not only stay in school but thrive and take advantage of additional opportunities that may have previously seemed out of reach,” said Pegg-Kirby. “I cannot even begin to capture all of the amazing individuals who have been part of our continued success and evolution.”
Throughout the remainder of the year, many celebrations will take place including an “at the table” conversation series.
“We were inspired by the Shirley Chisolm quote, ‘if you don’t have a seat at the table, bring a folding chair,’” said Pegg-Kirby. “We plan on making it a monthly conversation series featuring intergenerational conversations across many different identities focusing on topics such as women and leadership, women and athletics, women and STEM, etc..”
Other significant events include a Wick Poetry online collaboration to promote community and conversation and a potential 25th Anniversary cookbook with not just standard recipes but recipes for success, activism, and other antidotes. The big celebration is slated for the fall.
“We plan on highlighting and celebrating the change agents and community builders as well as the many individuals whose shoulders we stand on and stand with as we continue to work towards a more equitable environment for all,” said Pegg-Kirby.
As the Women’s Center looks to the future and another 25 years, Pegg-Kirby sees a lot of room to grow.
“As we move forward creating spaces that are inclusive and equitable, where people have the benefit of the most opportunities and experiences, we need to honor the people who came before us who fought the good fight,” she said. “I am excited to see how we can build off the successes of the past 25 years and look forward to co-creating the next 25 with the support of our alumni, our elders, and wisdom keepers, as well as the students who are carrying the torches into this new world.”
For more on the Women’s Center, visit https://www.kent.edu/womenscenter
For more on the 25th Anniversary celebration and plans, visit https://www.kent.edu/womenscenter/25th