The Women's Center
West Chester University
Lawrence Center 220
West Chester, PA 19383
A Long Way from Smith Hall
The Women’s Center Celebrates 36 Years of Service to the Student Body
The Women's Center at West Chester University has been in existence for over 30 years. The Center was created by a group of concerned women who wanted to create a safe haven where they could better understand and discuss their lives as women in a male-dominated society.
Through their hard work and vision, the Women's Center was up and running by 1974! Located on the third floor of Smith House (now called Filano Hall), the Center and the first director, Dr. Pamela Hemphill began work. The Center attempted to fund a part time Women’s Center Director, but wasn't initially successful. From the fall of 1976 to spring of 1977, the Center was run by Ms. Gene Kingrae, a Social Welfare major.
In the fall of 1977, Dr. Jane Swan became the new director of the Women’s Center on a half time basis. She insisted upon a reliable budget, a central location on campus, and the promise of a graduate assistant. By August of 1978, a new home was found in the Learning Research Center, Room 139. The Center also had a staff of Dr. Swan (half time), three graduate assistants, and one or two Social Welfare senior placement students.
Although the Women's Center at WCU was not the first, it became a role model for other schools in the years to follow. Women involved with the Women's Center met with one another to discuss mutual problems. More than just talk, they developed an informational newsletter, surveyed the campus to identify women's issues, and found solutions collectively.
The Children’s Center
One of the most pressing needs expressed by campus women was affordable childcare. As a result, Women's Center leaders created a free drop-in Children's Center in the fall of 1979. The drop-off center for children was first run by sorority women, then staffed by work-study students. By 1984-85, the drop-in childcare program had achieved enough support and funding to be established as a licensed childcare center. The Children's Center eventually achieved adequate university support to become an entity separate from the Women's Center and is now located in the ground floor of McCarthy Hall. Sandra Jones became the Children's Center Director in November of 1987.
In the spring of 1981, Dr. Swan returned to full time teaching in the History Department, and Dr. Joan Hasselquist took over as Director. In 1981-82, the Women’s Center moved to its current home in room 100 (renumbered as 220) of Lawrence Center. It was now better located to communicate and collaborate with the Counseling Center, Career Development Center, Academic Advising, Continuing Education, and the Learning Assistance Resource Center. In 1983, the Women’s Center Director position increased to a three-quarter time position, and Mary McCullough, a trained social worker and counselsor, became the director. She held the position until the fall of 1986.
In the years to follow, the Women's Center intensified its commitment to addressing the all-too-common problem of sexual and relationship violence. Programming around sexual assault, intimate partner violence, and rape prevention as well as victim assistance became the focus of the Center's activities under the direction of Robin Garrett, who served as director of the Women's Center from the spring of 1987 to the fall of 2008.
In January of 2009, Dr. Adale Sholock inherited this rich history of feminist activism by becoming the first full-time director of the Women's Center. Throughout her career as director,she continued the important work of sexual and relationship violence prevention while also expanding the role of the Women's Center to meet the diverse needs of the women of West Chester University of Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2013, Dr. Sholock left the position, and Alicia Hahn-Murphy, Director of Wellness Education, took over as the Interim-Director of the Women's Center.