"Women's Center" Archive

Women's Center marks five years of playing substantial role in diversity and inclusion efforts

Paige Meltzer

Five years ago, the newly-opened Wake Forest’s Women’s Center joined a new women’s leadership event, which attracted Wake Forest women and others to participate but also helped spread the word on campus that the new center was ready to play a big part in the University’s strategic plan for diversity and inclusion.

On March 20, the Wake Forest’s Women’s Center will present the fifth annual women’s leadership event.  Offered in partnership with the Office of Student Engagement, the reimagined event called “Amplify: Women’s Leadership Expo” will take place from 5-6:30 p.m. in Reynolds Gym.  It is open to undergraduate and graduate students, alumni, faculty and staff.

The Women’s Center opened in January 2013.  It is located in Benson University Center on the third floor.

It has been led from the start by Paige Meltzer, who arrived as the center’s founding director from Harvard University, where her teaching had focused on gender, politics and social movements during the 20th Century in the United States.  Paige holds a Ph.D. from Brown University. Prior to academia, Paige worked in Boston’s non-profit sector on public policy related to women’s economic justice.

“Our leadership event is aptly named. We’re trying to amplify the voices of women and to amplify the visibility of women’s leadership experiences,” Meltzer said. “By facilitating learning of new leadership skills, creating mentoring moments, and hearing women’s leadership stories, Amplify helps participants expand their leadership impact.”

And, more events are ahead this spring.  Up next is a March 27 workshop that is part of the center’s “Gender Equity@Work” series for faculty, staff and graduate students. It will be held in Reynolda Hall. The series digs into themes that have emerged from brown bag lunches, book discussions, and speakers Meltzer hosts, as well as everyday conversations. Upcoming workshops explore work/life balance, boundary-setting, imposter phenomenon and limiting gender norms.

 Since the Women’s Center opened, it has organized events ranging from academic-credit classes to summer writing groups, as well as discussion groups, workshops, and community engagement opportunities. The Women’s Center also provides support and mentorship for students, staff and faculty.

“We’re here to build Wake Forest’s capacity for gender equity as part of creating a diverse and inclusive Wake Forest,” Meltzer said. “We have a wide range of offerings because people learn in different ways and engage around different kinds of activities.”

Colleen Lofton

Meltzer is especially excited about the center’s work developing student leaders. This year, assistant director Colleen Lofton launched a peer education program aligned with the model used by the Office of Wellbeing.

“Our peer educators are designing and implementing their own programming to educate their peers about gender equity issues,” Meltzer said.

The Women’s History Month programming coming out of the Women’s Center has also been created by students. And none of the center’s work would be possible without their student worker team.

Carrying out its mission often involves collaborating with staff and faculty and students campuswide.

“We are fortunate to be part of a generous community who want to do this work with us,” Meltzer said. “It’s been an incredible five years.”

Reflecting on the five-year anniversary, 2016 Wake Forest graduate Deborah Marke said, “The Women’s Center wasn’t just a space to learn – it was my home. It was the space where I felt most authentically myself, a space where I was challenged to go further, to be better, and where I felt I most belonged. Because of the WFU Women’s Center, I now work at the Women’s Center at the University of Cincinnati and I hope I am creating a space where students can bring their whole selves in the same way WFU Women’s Center did for me.” Read more

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Categories: Inside WFUStaff News

Faculty and staff milestones January 2018

See a list of faculty milestones for January 2018:

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Wake Wonder Woman event to be held Jan. 22-26

Faculty, staff and students will be able to attend more than 20 sessions focused on women’s holistic wellbeing Jan. 22-26 as part of the Wake Wonder Woman event at Wake Forest.

Wake Wonder Woman is co-sponsored by the Office of Wellbeing, Campus Recreation, the Student Health Service, the Women’s Center and Deacon Dining.

Topics include:

  • Fueling Your Inner Wonder Woman
  • Passing the Mic
  • Women Who FOCUS
  • Wonder Women Fill Their Cup First
  • Women Got Game

A calendar of the sessions is offered on the Wake Wonder Woman web site.  Additional information about the event is available there, too.

According to the web site, the Wake Wonder Woman event will offer hands-on educational awareness and physical activities.

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Categories: Inside WFU

In Support of DACA students at Wake Forest University

The following message went out to the Wake Forest University campus community on Sept. 3: 

Dear Wake Forest Students, Faculty, and Staff,

The current political climate around the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is one of uncertainty and confusion, not only for Wake Forest students enrolled in the program, but also for their families, friends, classmates, faculty and staff. Given that climate, we cannot provide clarity about the program’s continuation or possible changes to federal policy. However, it is critically important for everyone in our campus community – and especially those worried about their safety and freedom to pursue their studies – to know that Wake Forest is here to support all our students, including those who are not U.S. citizens.

In December, President Hatch joined hundreds of other university leaders in signing a petition asking then-President-elect Trump to uphold and expand DACA. Yet, as a decision from the White House looms, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion – through our Intercultural Center, Women’s Center, and LGTBQ Center – acknowledges the anxiety and frustration associated with not knowing the impact of changes to current federal policies. Please consider our collective staff available should you need to an attentive ear or a comforting space. In addition, please remember that the University Counseling Center (117 Reynolda Hall) can provide expert and clinical confidential support, that the International Students and Scholars division (116 Reynolda) can provide up-to-date information and implications for changes to federal policies around immigration procedures and statutes, and that the Chaplain’s Office (8 Reynolda) can provide spaces that facilitate reflection and solace. Finally, consider your own personal support network of family, friends, and staff and professor allies, and how they can be affirming.

Wake Forest, like other institutions of higher education, will continue to monitor changes to DACA. We will also continue to assess progress or updates to Congressional actions, including the BRIDGE Act and the Recognizing America’s Children Act (a rewrite of the Dream Act). Ultimately, the academic and personal-social wellbeing of DACA students at Wake Forest is something we neither take lightly nor take for granted.

As President Hatch has said, we are a community that stands up for one another in the face of discrimination. We are a place committed to respecting and preserving the dignity of all people – from every nation. We are a campus that welcomes diverse people and viewpoints. Our campus is richer for our diverse population and we will continue to provide financial aid, support services, and connection to legal resources for undocumented students. You belong here and you are welcome here.

José A. Villalba, Interim Chief Diversity Officer
Johnathan McElderry, Director, Intercultural Center
Angela Mazaris, Director, LGBTQ Center
Paige Meltzer, Director, The Women’s Center

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Categories: Inside WFU

Barbee Oakes named chief diversity officer at UNLV

This announcement was emailed by Provost Rogan Kersh to students, faculty and staff on July 6:

Dear Wake Forest Students, Faculty, and Staff,

Barbee Oakes

After three decades as a champion of diversity and inclusion at Wake Forest, Dr. Barbee Oakes will become the Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) on September 1.

Appointed Wake Forest’s first Chief Diversity Officer in 2015, Dr. Oakes has also served as Assistant Provost for Diversity and Inclusion since 2009.

We are grateful for Dr. Oakes’ years of pioneering leadership and the vital, central role she has had in making Wake Forest a more diverse and inclusive place.  She has been unwavering in her commitment to creating an inclusive environment for every member of the Wake Forest community.  Though sad she will leave her alma mater and professional home for 28 years, we know UNLV will benefit from her extraordinary combination of wisdom and passion for fostering community.

Dr. Oakes was Director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs (now the Intercultural Center) for 14 years prior to her appointment as Assistant Provost. She came to Wake Forest as an assistant professor in the health and exercise science department in 1989.

Under her leadership, Wake Forest implemented key retention strategies that positioned the University among the nation’s most successful institutions with respect to graduating college students of color. She has worked collaboratively with faculty, administrators, staff and students to develop initiatives to broaden the curriculum, increase the number of minority faculty and staff, enhance diversity education, better prepare our students to work and lead in a global society and, in countless ways, create an inclusive and engaging campus culture.

Dr. Oakes was also the lead author of Wake Forest’s strategic plan to enhance diversity and inclusion, among the first and most expansive such university strategies when published nearly a decade ago. Many of the initiatives proposed there, including creating a LGBTQ Center and Women’s Center, have come to rich fruition under her supervision.

Beyond Wake Forest, she has also been a leader in higher education. In 2012, Diverse Issues in Higher Education nationally recognized her as one of the “25 Women Making a Difference” to foster community on college campuses. She has served as president of the North Carolina Diversity and Inclusion Partners.

An exercise physiologist by training, Dr. Oakes (’80, MA ’81) received a B.S. with honors and an M.A from Wake Forest. As a Hylton Smith Fellow, she received a Ph.D. in exercise physiology and nutrition from the University of Tennessee and was the first African American woman with a doctorate in the American College of Sports Medicine. She has also held faculty appointments at Arizona State and Penn State University.

I will oversee a national search for her replacement.

I know I speak for us all wishing Dr. Oakes the best of luck at UNLV—she will be missed across the Wake Forest community, one she has done so much to enhance!


Rogan Kersh

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