Our "Her"story

Impetus

Establishment of a women's center was one of 57 recommendations for improving the status of and climate for women at Miami issued in 1989 by the President's Commission on Improvement of the Status of Female Faculty, Staff and Students, a committee born of late 1980's student activism. The Commission found evidence of women being overlooked, undervalued, harassed and discriminated against and recommended expansion of support programs for women, including a women's center. 

Beginnings

A Women's Resource Center had operated for about five years in the late 1970's and early 1980's. When that first center closed its doors, a part-time staff position and small programming budget enabled the University to continue a focus on issues of special concern to women students. The position-coordinator of women's programs-continued until the Women*s Center was established in July 1991.

Organization

From 1991-2001 the Women*s Center was guided by a Policy and Management Council composed of faculty and staff representing the major divisions of the university, as well as undergraduate and graduate students. Following a year-long review, the Council recommended that, effective July 2001, the Center become part of the Academic Affairs Division with a dotted line to the Division of Student Life. In July 2009 the Women*s Center became part of the Division of Student Life. In 2016-17, the Division moved the Women*s Center into the Office of Diversity Affairs as one of three functional areas - Diverse Student Development, LGBTQ+ Services, and Women*s Center - supporting marginalized students. The integration also facilitates mutual support, closer collaboration, greater impact, and ultimately better services to our students. Each functional area retains a distinct identity within the larger unit. This change is congruent with what is happening at other colleges and universities as these functional areas evolve to become more closely aligned. To convey our commitment to welcoming and supporting all gender identities, in Spring 2017 the Women*s Center changed its name, replacing the apostrophe with an asterisk. In Summer 2019, the Office of Diversity Affairs was renamed the Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion and the Women*s Center was renamed Women*s Initiatives. 

Location

The Women*s Center's first home was the basement of MacMillan Hall. In March 2002 the Women*s Center moved to the old Wells Hall dining room, while MacMillan was renovated. In July 2003 the Women*s Center moved back to MacMillan Hall, where it remained until June 2013 when the Center was relocated to 127 McGuffey Hall to make space for a Global Initiatives office in MacMillan. In the summer of 2017 the Women*s Center relocated to the third floor of the Armstrong Student Center (Suite 3012) to shared space with LGBTQ+ Services, connecting our combined work on gender issues. In August 2019 Women*s Initiatives and LGBTQ+ Initiatives joined Intercultural Initiatives in the renovated Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion in 2030 Armstrong.

Program Review

The Women*s Center underwent its first formal program review during 2006-07. The external reviewer noted that the Center "seems to exemplify some of the very best qualities of a top tier Women's Center." and described the Center as "one of the top Women's Centers in the country." A second program review in 2012-13 likewise found the Women*s Center to be a valuable contributor to Miami's mission. The Center's next program review was part of the Office of Diversity Affairs (now Center for Student Diversity & Inclusion) departmental review in 2018-19.

The term Herstory

Herstory is a blend of the words her and history. It first appeared in the early 1970s and is typically used to indicate "history considered or presented from a feminist viewpoint or with special attention to the experience of women" (Merriam-Webster online dictionary). While the term history is "etymologically unrelated to the possessive pronoun his,"  (Wikipedia), the term herstory draws attention to the notion that conventional history often leaves out the experiences and accomplishments of women.