Campus reflects on Women's History Month at closing reception
Hand-in-hand, several Radford University administrators, faculty, staff and students stood before a crowded Covington Center atrium on April 1 and gave a much-deserved Broadway-style bow.
The men and women represented the many people who were involved in organizing the month-long Women's History Month Celebration, which concluded with a closing reception hosted by President Penelope W. Kyle.
Women's History Month is recognized throughout the world. At Radford University, it is an annual effort that offers a wide range of engaging activities. This year's theme was "Weaving the Stories of Women's Lives," and more than 20 events were held on campus throughout March to recognize women's contributions to society. Women's strength and resilience shined on stage in performances as diverse as the "Vagina Monologues" play and the "Paradigm Shift" creative dance. Their struggles were explored in numerous presentations and conversations about aging, the gender pay gap and diversity in the workplace.
President Kyle joined Moira Baker, director of the Women's Studies Program, at the reception to reflect on the successful celebration.
"Women's History Month is one of my favorite times because you all do so much," Kyle said. "There is something going on almost every day and certainly several times every week, and you do it so well. This is the first time I have worked somewhere where the entire month of March is marked by events. It takes a good leader to pull this off."
President Kyle spoke of the many women faculty, staff and students leaders on campus, "who always challenge themselves and excel.
"She also discussed her role on the Governor's Task Force on Combatting Campus Sexual Violence. Kyle was appointed to the committee by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in September 2014.
Kyle has formed a similar sexual assault task force on campus, which is chaired by Professor Donna Boyd, co-director of the RU Forensic Science Institute.
"It is so important to educate our university community about sexual assault," Kyle said. "We must combat this on our campus. With the help of the state and Radford University support, we are going to find another path."
Toward the end of her remarks, Kyle asked those in attendance who contributed to the month's activities to move forward to be recognized. Among them was Caitlyn Parker, a senior Women's Studies minor who played an integral part in the celebration, according to Baker.
Parker organized a full day of lectures, workshops and discussions around the issue of "safe spaces" on campus. To Parker, participating In Women's History Month was just one way she could bring awareness to the important cause.
"There's still so much to learn," Parker said. "Women's issues aren't going away, and they never will."
Parker, Associate Director of Women's Studies Michele Wren and Professor Erin Webster Garrett each were presented flowers by Baker for their continued support of the program.
Baker, who has been involved in RU's Women's History Month celebration for more than a decade, spoke of how hard women have fought to advance to where they are today.
"Women were barred admission from most prestigious universities, from most professions…They could not even vote," Baker said.
"But women in this country and around the world have worked ardently at great personal costs and with very little acknowledgement – if any - so that all women, men and children around the world might live in a more just, equitable and humane society."
Baker also encouraged attendees to remember women's contributions beyond March.
"We should be celebrating the accomplishments of women - their struggles, their trials, their tragedies, their joys - every day of the year," she said.