In the early 1990’s, two Virginia Wesleyan students spearheaded the development of a space on campus dedicated to women-- their academic interests and their unique needs. The space, called the Women’s Resource Office, was located several places on campus until today, where it shares space with the Floyd E. Kellam, Jr. Social Science Center. At that time of the development of the office, several interested professors were teaching courses focused on women in their own departments. As interest in women’s issues grew, the idea to develop a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies led to that becoming a reality, with Professor of Theatre Sally Shedd named as its first coordinator.
Today, Women’s and Gender Studies (WGS) is a major, chaired by Assistant Professor of English Kellie Holzer. True to women’s ways of learning and supporting one another’s growth, the faculty and staff of the WGS programs and Women’s Centers at both Tidewater Community College and Old Dominion University hosted those of us interested in developing our own Center, shared their histories, and provided good advice.
Our higher education colleagues suggested that it was important to give faculty and staff women a voice on campus, as ODU’s Women’s Center had done in developing its Women’s Caucus. Virginia Wesleyan’s first Women’s Forum meetings were held the fall semester of the 2003-2004 academic year. Initially, faculty and staff meetings were separate, but it quickly became evident that women’s issues were so similar for both faculty and staff that combining the two would be best. The Forum has met monthly during the academic year ever since. The Women's Forum, which is now a supportive arm of the Women's Resource Center, has presented a wide array of programming for women and has advocated for increased involvement for women in the college administration, for equity in athletics, for campus safety, and for increased awareness of women’s concerns in many areas. The integration of women’s and gender issues in the academic program and in student services remains a top priority. In addition, the Forum acts as a resource to faculty and staff for information, support, and socialization.