With a new name and a new direction, the UCF Center for Success of Women Faculty has one overriding purpose: To achieve its self-fulfilling title.
After being known for more than a decade as the Women’s Research Center, the group was renamed a few weeks ago to better reflect the organization’s goals.
And now, the group is taking its new mission outward to offer its services and to encourage excellence in scholarship, research and creativity in all endeavors related to women.
“Our mission is more than just research. Our goal is to help UCF recruit and retain the best women faculty and help them become even more successful,” said Linda Walters, a biology professor and interim director of the center. “We’re doing that by building community – especially in departments where they may be isolated as the sole woman faculty member – and helping balance life and work issues.”
The revamped center is trying to reach its objectives by mentoring, sponsoring events to improve professional capabilities, and providing resources, said Walters, who has been the interim director about a year and who kick-started the center’s changes.
The center housed in Classroom Building 1 now schedules speakers, leadership workshops, seminars, book-club gatherings, self-defense and yoga classes, CPR training, and other activities. A faculty development conference is planned for May.
The center’s new website also highlights the achievements of women faculty members. Just this week, a link was added that recognizes women faculty who have authored or edited books within the past three years. There are 21 women listed so far whose works range from research to fiction to poetry; others with books are asked to inform the center.
Fran Ragsdale, program assistant at the center, said the organization also wants to increase the ratio of women faculty members at UCF.
This semester there were 1,011 male faculty members and 662 women faculty members, she said.
Hiring of new faculty for the fall semester was an improvement in the ratio, she said, with 44 men and 40 women.
Walters said that 25 percent of all women faculty members have been directly involved with the center in the past year, but she’s shooting for more.
“My goal is to now make it so everyone has heard of this center, and for those who need it, use it.”
More information about the center and its events can be found at womens.research.ucf.edu. To see a gallery of the women faculty who have authored or edited books, click on the Highlighted Faculty link.