- At a recent celebratory "Hat and Glove Tea" party,
University Women's Club members were wearing the elegant finery
of their founding mothers.
But that was just for fun. These days, as the organization makes
plans to mark its 100th year, the focus is less about society
and more about service.
The organization's KU scholarship program, which started at a
modest $100 and is the university's longest continuous scholarship
program, has grown into an endowed fund that last year awarded
$4,000 in scholarships.
Even the club's logo Jayhawk has discarded her high-heeled pumps
for no-nonsense shoes.
Founded in the spring of 1900, UWC was a fairly exclusive enclave
of the university's women faculty and faculty wives. Its original
name, in fact, was Ladies of the Faculty, and the chancellor's
wife was entitled to take the helm. Membership gradually expanded
over the years to include unclassified staff women and housemothers.
Thanks to a constitutional revision two years ago, the club now
welcomes the entire non-student university community - men included.
"And we're happy to have them," said Joan Reiber, UWC's
1999-2000 president. "There have been some big changes,
but every group has to face that. We're looking to the new millennium,
and we're happy to meet the changes."
Other changes the club has been trying in recent years include
a new dues structure and an occasional break from the usual meeting
format and venue of a noon luncheon the first Thursday of every
month in the Kansas Union's Malott Room (named for Eleanor Malott,
UWC's fourth president). New interest groups, which gather smaller
numbers of like-minded members in members' homes, have been added,
including groups about computers, elderhostels and parenting
But tradition is never far from the minds of the organization's
most devoted members, and UWC, under program chair Martha Langley,
planned its 1999-2000 programs to highlight its heritage. Some
of them, like the Dec. 2
"Hat and Glove Tea" and the upcoming "Fashions
Through the Years" show at noon Feb. 3 in the Kansas Union
Ballroom recall favorite programs from the past.
Another highlight of the spring will be the dedication of a memorial
garden bench May 4 in Pioneer Cemetery. Members will launch bundles
of balloons to celebrate the 100th birthday of the club, which
first met on May 3, 1900.
UWC has recently produced two publications to celebrate its centennial
and to raise funds for scholarships and other programs: the UWC
Centennial Cookbook, edited by Langley, and Tea and Empathy:
The University Women's Club Centennial History, a 100-page softcover
book featuring 48 photos. The history volume was compiled by
a committee chaired by Connie Robinson and edited by Betty Laird.