One hundred and twenty five years ago this May, Harriet Lyon became the first woman to earn a degree at West Virginia University. A free symposium hosted by WVU Libraries March 15-17 will explore Lyon’s legacy and the advancements for women since her pioneering achievement.
“We are excited and honored to pay tribute to the people whose commitment to women’s education have benefited generations of students, faculty and staff at West Virginia University,” said Carroll Wilkinson, director of Strategic Library Initiatives for WVU Libraries.
The three-day program, which is free and open to the public, builds upon the work of the celebration of the Centenary of women’s graduation in 1991. Wilkinson collaborated with librarians and library staff to create a lineup of a lecture, a forum, a panel discussion, a workshop, exhibits and a student poster session.
“Along with addressing the achievements and struggles of WVU’s women over 125 years, we will focus on recent achievements and share new perspectives on WVU women’s history,” Wilkinson said. “Our hope is this study will help us expand our understanding of our University.”
Activities begin at 4 p.m. March 15 with an opening program in the Robinson Reading Room, Charles C. Wise Library. On March 16 there will be multiple presentations, a panel discussion, a poster session and a hands-on workshop.
The keynote address from Dr. Regina Barreca, Professor of English and Feminist Theory at University of Connecticut, is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. March 16 in the Milano Reading Room in the Charles C. Wise Library. The presentation is titled “Courage, Curiosity, and Conviction: Celebrating 125 Years of Educating Women at WVU.”
“Barreca will use her vast knowledge of feminist education, her contagious sense of humor, and her lived experience as one of the first women to go to Dartmouth College in the 1970s, to provide context for the core meaning of the 125th anniversary celebration of coeducation at WVU,” Wilkinson said.
Additional programs on March 16 include:
• In “Breaking through a Glass Ceiling in Mathematics,” Dr. Marjorie Darrah, associate professor of mathematics at WVU and the first woman to receive a PhD. in mathematics at WVU, will reflect on her experiences and changes at the University over the last 25 years. Dr. Amy Keesee, research assistant professor of physics and past president of the local American Women of Science (AWIS) chapter, will moderate this session. AWIS is a co-sponsor of this event. (10:45 a.m.-noon in the Robinson Reading Room)
• “A Discussion of the Triumphs & Tribulations of WVU Sisterhood during the Last Twenty-five Years” brings together panelists from throughout campus: Dr. Ethel Smith, associate professor of English; Martha Yancey, interim director of the Evansdale Library; Dr.Marjorie Fuller, director of the Center for Black Culture and Research; and Cathy Jasper, program coordinator, WVU ADVANCE Center. The forum is part of WVU Libraries’ Diversity Alliance and coordinated by the Visiting Librarians of WVU Libraries’ Residency Program, Ashleigh Coren, Chanelle Pickens and Lisette Hernanadez, who will moderate.(4-5 p.m. in the Mountainlair’s Laurel Room)
• A Wikipedia Edit-a-thon will provide training on writing for Wikipedia. Kelly Doyle, WVU Libraries’ Wikipedian-in-Residence for Gender Equity, will guide participants through creating an account to editing an existing article about a West Virginia woman or posting an original researched article with references on the online encyclopedia. Participants should bring their own laptops and mobile devices.
“This is the third edit-a-thon I have held as the Libraries’ Wikipedian in Residence for Gender Equity, and I am excited to encourage writers on campus to join in our campaign” Doyle said.
(1-3 p.m. in Downtown Campus Library, Room 2036)
• The exhibits WVU Women: Celebrating 125 Years, 1891-2016 and Appalachian Women and Social Justice, 1891-2016 officially open at 7 p.m. in the Rockefeller Gallery and Milano Reading Room exhibit cases.
The symposium concludes at 10 a.m. March 17 in the Robinson Reading Room with “Excellence through Equity: Are We There Yet?” a conversation with Wilkinson and Judith Gold Stitzel, professor emerita and founding director of the WVU Center for Women and Gender Studies. Barreca will moderate.
Immediately following, the closing session will provide a preview of upcoming events in the University’s celebration of the 125th anniversary of the graduation of women. WVU’s Center for Women’s and Gender Studies will continue this important celebration on campus throughout 2016.
“We welcome students, faculty, staff and area residents to join us for the festivities,” Wilkinson said. “Please feel free to attend any and all sessions. They will be well worth your time.”
For more information, visit symposium.lib.wvu.edu.
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