CORVALLIS - Oregon State University is hosting a free public reception on Friday, Oct. 17, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the university Women's Center and Department of Women Studies. The event will run from 3-5 p.m. in the Memorial Union Lounge on campus.

Although they are now separate functions at the university, in 1972 the two were formed as the Women Studies Center under the leadership of Jeanne Dost, professor emeritus and director emeritus of women studies.

"There was considerable interest on the part of many on campus to form an official voice for women's issues and concerns," said Jo Anne Trow, OSU vice provost emeritus for student affairs and professor emeritus for education.

Dost, Trow , and Margaret Lumpkin and Gwyneth Britton, both retired OSU professors of education, were leaders among women on campus working to increase services to women students.

"When the women studies program started out and we opened our doors in January, 1972, it was just me - and I was part-time," Dost said. "We didn't even offer any classes."

In the beginning, the program met in various places, until Dost heard the university's old paleontology center was slated for demolition in August of 1972.

"We formed a group of volunteers, men and women, who cleaned it up and did some painting," Dost said. "They also volunteered to form a human chain around the building if the university went ahead with demolition plans, but we finally convinced them to let us have the building.

"It was an exciting time on campus," she added. "There was all kinds of excitement and I'm happy that we were part of that time - the black movement was in progress, the women's movement, it was just a very electrifying time."

In the early years, the center's services were geared to boost the university climate for women as well as to help individual women. Services included workshops to help women reach their potential as students and community members, a counseling and referral service, and a place to study, visit or relax

Women Studies was approved as a program within the College of Liberal Arts in 1978 and moved to the Social Science Building in 1981. The Women's Center remained in place. In the early years, the center dealt with calls relating to domestic violence and rape. As these and other services became available to women through community programs, the center included programs on women's health, leadership, and the history of women at OSU.

The center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Community members and OSU faculty, staff, and students are welcome to visit, attend programs, or use the center for informal meetings. For information regarding this year's programs, call 541-737-3175.

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Susan Prock, 541-737-3175