The University Women’s Club, originally named the Faculty Women’s Club, has been a part of the University of Colorado Boulder community since 1919. On December 12, 1919, 46 faculty wives convened informally to socialize and stay publicly engaged off campus. Mrs. Margaret James Willard was the first president that year, and the first meeting that the Club held was in the Norlin House, home of CU’s fifth president George Norlin. The historical home is still on University Hill at 12th Street and Aurora.
Membership has included many of the women who stand out in the history of CU including wives of the Presidents, Deans of Women, female Regents and faculty and staff members. For many decades the Faculty Women’s Club was one of the leading social organizations in Boulder, one which many women were anxious to join.
Eligibility for membership in the club was an issue dealt with many times in the early years of the organization. The first constitution was written in 1924, stating that Faculty wives and female faculty members were welcome to join the Faculty Women’s Club. In every decade, the club made adjustments to the membership requirements which reflected the changing status of women connected with the University. Today, club membership is open to women who are members or friends of the University of Colorado.
There was always a sense of hospitality within the Faculty Women’s Club. Silver tea pots and china were purchased to grace tables at summer tea parties, buffet dinners, and Christmas galas. A concern for other people meant the start of service projects: a milk fund for school children, emergency relief fund for students, a student loan fund and finally in recent decades, scholarships for women returning to school. The club also provided service to the University by organizing university-wide social affairs, participating in fundraising activities and hosting receptions and teas. Hospitality, friendship and service have been constant themes throughout the years of the University Women’s Club.
Just like the first meeting place, several of the Club’s traditions, though evolved, are still intact. The Club’s community and education mission to promote friendship among women and raise scholarship funds for nontraditional students still thrives today. The Women’s Club Board of Directors plans a calendar of events including lecture luncheons, featuring university speakers and other community experts. Other events include the Spring Opera Brunch and April Scholarship Luncheon. In addition to the lectures, there are 24 interest groups for members to join.
Scholarship has always been at the core of the Club’s values. It offers an average of four scholarships each year to non-traditional candidates who are at least 24 years old and whose backgrounds make an education harder to achieve. Applications for scholarships are due mid-March, and winners are chosen and recognized at the April Scholarship Luncheon.
Annually, the University Women’s Club presents the Margaret Willard Award at the Spring Honors Reception. The exceptional women receiving the award demonstrate outstanding work in their field of endeavor, enhance the quality of life for women on the Boulder campus and/or in the Boulder community, are exceptional role models, and bring honor to all women and to the University/Boulder community through her accomplishments.
Overall, the University Women’s Club in its support of women within the University community is upholding its original purpose, that of promoting friendship among members, strengthening their bonds of common interests, and providing service to the University. As individual members of a larger community, University Women’s Club members can draw on their friendships and shared interests to participate in strengthening the feeling of community often lacking in contemporary society.
To learn more about scholarships, interest groups, luncheons and membership, visit the University Women’s Club Activities section.