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Updated 9:00 AM October 13, 2004
 

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40th anniversary ahead

Women say CEW transforms lives

LSA Associate Professor Naomi André, Kellogg Center Associate Major Gift Officer Gayle Dickerson and graduate student Yasemin Ince Guney have something in common other than their associations with U-M: All three found help from the Center for the Education of Women (CEW) during a time of great transition in their lives.

For André, assistance came when she was a new faculty member at U-M. For Dickerson, it was a change in career that brought her to CEW's door. For Guney, the help was with the move from her homeland of Turkey to the United States.

For 40 years the center has helped women like André, Dickerson and Guney through service, advocacy and research—a track record the community will celebrate Oct. 15 with a birthday party and keynote address.

André, an associate professor of women's studies in LSA, first heard about CEW during new faculty orientation when she received materials about the program. She recalls being impressed that the group not only had an array of workshops and other activities and services for faculty and staff, but that CEW also supported graduate students. For her, CEW offered an entrée to the community and a means to connect with projects that she could be involved with outside of her teaching.

"If you're not from here, CEW is a great place to begin to make connections," she says. "I got involved with the Women of Color in the Academy project.

"I think one of the really great things CEW represents, at a research institute where everyone is so busy in their professional lives, is that we need connections to our community and we need family."

Andre says some of CEW's programs—such as initiatives to help bring the issue of childcare to the forefront, often resulting in University policy changes—reflect the program's commitment to families. Additionally, many of the center's programs address the balance between work and life outside of the office.

She says the help doesn't just come in the form of professional support. As she was going through a divorce, CEW was there as well.

"I was walking back toward my car from the courthouse and, as I passed the CEW office, I stopped in and Carol [Hollenshead] was wonderful. She gave me a hug and a cup of tea, and let me talk," André says. Hollenshead is director of CEW.

Dickerson found counseling of a different kind at CEW. She had worked for years as a medical technician and was looking for a career change. She thought going back to school would help her figure out the next career move.

"I'd finished my third degree as an MBA and still didn't know what I wanted to do," she says. At the recommendation of a friend, she turned to CEW for help.

After some preliminary counseling to find out her interests, Dickerson used an internship program CEW was then offering to find a position with the Ann Arbor School for the Performing Arts. At the time, the school did not have programs in place for public relations, advertising, volunteerism or development.

"I was able to recommend computer software that would help them track donors and volunteers. I also planned special events, did some marketing and volunteer recruitment, and wrote a grant for them."

Dickerson says prior to working for the school, it had never occurred to her that raising money for organizations was a career. As of today, she has been fund raising for various nonprofit organizations for nearly a decade.

"It opened my eyes to the field," she says.

Guney, an international doctoral student in the Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning, not only needed help with her transition to Ann Arbor six years ago, but required support as the mother of a young child. Her daughter, now 8, was a toddler at the time.

"I needed help with childcare during the summer months, advice on approaching faculty members, and just help with learning how to relax and to keep studying more," Guney says. "I could go [to CEW] and talk about anything I wanted."

She says international students sometimes find that cultural differences result in strained relationships with faculty. CEW helps students learn how to relate with faculty but also works to help professors understand how culture influences approaches to communication.

Today, women continue to rely on CEW for faculty networks, professional development programs, scholarships and fellowships, workshops, and individual counseling. CEW also produces research and leads advocacy efforts to address gender equity, access to education and women's leadership.

Four decades of help for André, Dickerson, Guney and countless others will be the focus of an upcoming event that will feature Julianne Malveaux, economist, author, and commentator on race, culture and gender. The Oct. 15 program, which will begin at 2 p.m. in the Michigan League, will kick off a yearlong celebration of the anniversary.

For more information on CEW or the celebration, visit http://www.umich.edu/~cew/welcome.html.

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