Originally a professors’ wives club, the WSU Women’s Association has come a long way since it began in 1928.
Now, the organization raises funds to provide scholarships to non-traditional, female students in need, and hosts a variety of social activities throughout the year.
In March, the Woman’s Association collects donations toward the Dames Endowed Scholarship.
“Back when it started, professors just brought their wives together as sort of a meeting place that gave them something to do because at that time women didn’t really work,” said Corinne Nilsen, head of the scholarship committee. “Now, women work as professors, doctors and are in a variety of jobs all over the world.”
Sometime after the organization started, they decided to change their identity to the University of Wichita Dames Club, and their new objective is starting a student loan fund.
Their name and objective changed again in the ‘70s, providing scholarship money for women in need.
“Typically, today you don’t call someone a ‘dame’ because it can be offensive, but as sort of a nod to our past, our scholarship’s name is called the ‘Dames Endowed Scholarship,’ and I really think that’s neat,” Nilsen said.
The association puts on a fundraiser once a month, but members continue to meet to come up with better ideas.
“We used to have a program based around the fundraiser where we would just receive all of the money at once, but now we have a mail-raiser where people can just send in their donations that way,” said Martha Lewis, president of the association.
Any female student on campus can apply for the scholarship, but Nilsen said they must meet certain qualifications first.
“We give preference to females who have a good GPA,” she said. “There’s also a difference between a brand new freshman at WSU whose parents are paying for them to go there versus a mother of two who’s also going to school and also has a full-time job. We would have to pick the one who is in more need.”
About $3,000 is raised four to five times a year for scholarship winners to split amongst themselves. However, the Women’s Association recently collected $7,000 for the Dames Endowed Scholarship, which was later split among eight women.
Although creating and giving away scholarships is one of its main missions, the Women’s Association organizes new events and creates new clubs for members to attend.
“We put on programs throughout the year, some of which where we invite speakers,” Lewis said. “For instance, our basketball coach came a while ago to speak and that was a lot of fun. We also have luncheons where we all go out to a restaurant and relax and have lunch together.”
The WSU Women’s Association also has a bridge group, a book club, a friends and foods group, a stitch and chatter group and a theater group.
“Anybody who is female on campus or is the wife of a staff member can join the organization,” Nilsen said. “We always welcome new members.”
Go online to apply for a scholarship or learn more about the club visit