AAUW branch on campus approved by national organization, looking to grow membership

AAUW-WCU board members and guests get together with guest speaker and AAUW member Johanna Price, WCU associate professor of communication sciences and disorders, at a “Lunch and Learn” program sponsored by Delta Sigma Theta sorority.

The Western Carolina University chapter of the American Association of University Women, now approved as the latest official AAUW branch in North Carolina by the organization’s national office, is looking to grow its membership and spread the word about the benefits and services it provides.

The AAUW-WCU applied for and was approved for branch status this past summer. The group has been active on campus for three years as a university/college affiliate of the AAUW Tar Heel branch, said Holli Stillman, a member of the staff in WCU’s Office of the Provost and vice president of the WCU branch. “Recognition as an independent branch will allow part of our membership dues to return to the AAUW-WCU branch, allowing for broader and more robust programs and events,” she said.

Projects undertaken by AAUW-WCU during the current semester have included an evaluation of the group’s mentoring program for faculty and staff women; offering a “Lunch and Learn” program on gender salary inequity; having a presence at new faculty and staff orientation; and continuing development of the group’s website.

Among the AAUW-WCU activities planned for the spring semester is a luncheon on campus that will celebrate both the WCU group’s status as an official branch of AAUW and the installation of Kelli R. Brown as chancellor of the university, said Mickey Randolph, Department of Psychology faculty member and AAUW-WCU president. The luncheon will take place during installation week and include a panel discussion on women in traditional male occupations. It also will serve as a pre-conference event for the AAUW state conference, which will be held in Asheville on March 27-28, with AAUW-WCU faculty and students participating as presenters and volunteers.

Another spring semester activity will be an event marking the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the right to vote.

On an individual level, the AAUW-WCU focuses on mentoring, networking, educating and empowering women faculty, staff and students at WCU, and women in the local area, Stillman said. Members will play an integral role in determining the direction of the branch, including the types of programs and events it hosts, she said.

Members of the AAUW-WCU board, in addition to Randolph and Stillman, are Yue Hillon, Carol Burton, Jenny Stewart, Teri Domagalski, Allison Thorp and Adrienne Stuckey and student representatives Lacey Rutherford, Autumn James, Jada Da Rosa and Ania Blackwell.

The national AAUW offers members research and educational funding, sex discrimination case support, global connections, leadership development and salary negotiation tools, in addition to discounts and special services from companies such as GEICO, Hertz and Office Depot.

For more information about the WCU branch of AAUW, contact Randolph at randolph@wcu.edu or Stillman at hbstillman@wcu.edu. More information about the national organization can be found at www.aauw.org, and WCU women interested in being members of AAUW-WCU can join at this website.