August 30, 2004
57, Number 02
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August 30, 2004
for Women moves to Cox Hall
When the Women’s Center opened its doors in 1992,
Director Ali Crown was told the modular unit in which it was housed
was only temporary. “Temporary” drug on for 12 years,
but last month the center moved into its permanent home on the third
floor of Cox Hall.
A base of operations that “won’t blow away,” as Crown said,
is just one of the new things the center is experiencing as the 2004–05
academic year begins. It has expanded its staff (Special Programs Coordinator
Jennifer Federovitch, ’04C, recently joined the three-woman team) and,
perhaps most importantly, emerged with a new name: The Center for Women at Emory
“We called it a ‘modular unit’ for a long time,” Crown
said of the Center for Women’s former home. “But everybody knew that
was a euphemism. If you looked at it, you knew it. We’re not there anymore.
Who cares? Why can’t we call it what it was? It was a trailer.”
The outside of the old facility may not have been much to look at, but the staff
worked hard to make it a pleasant place to visit. “We had a lot of comments
like, ‘Why is the women’s center in a trailer? What does that say?’” said
Assistant Director for Programs Jenny Williams, who admitted surprise herself
upon learning of the center’s location when interviewing for her job in
“But people would come in and say, ‘What a respite—how calming
and welcoming,’” Williams said. “We hope to recreate that here—if
we ever get unpacked,” she quipped.
Administrators had worked many years to find the women’s center a permanent
spot but were never able to put a plan together. “Everybody was sincere,” Crown
said, “but there was always so much other building going on.”
But in 2003 when Network Communications started making plans to move its administrative
offices from Cox Hall to the Materiel Center, then-interim Provost Woody Hunter
to let the opportunity pass.
“We had looked at a couple other possible sites,” said Bill Cassels,
associate provost for academic space planning. One of those was the North Decatur
Building, but Crown said the facility didn’t quite meet the center’s
“For a long time we wanted to get rid of the modular units, the trailers,
on campus,” Cassels said. “But what do you do with the people who
are in them? So we moved the women’s center up in priority.”
When Netcom moved, 4,500 square feet of prime office space was vacated, and Campus
Planning split it among Food Services, the Counseling Center and the women’s
center. The renovations were quick, starting May 1 and wrapping up two months
The Center for Women’s new space—several offices and open work areas
connected by a long corridor—is a good bit bigger than the old one: 1,684
square feet of working space compared with 1,162 in the trailer.
It includes a conference room (slightly smaller than the old one, but still versatile)
and a counseling room that doubles as a private nursing space. There is a reception
area (Leslie Campis, director of sexual assault response and education services,
has an office adjacent office adjacent to this area), and while the old carpet
stayed, there is new, bold, blue and purple paint on the walls and a refinement
impossible to create in the old trailer no matter how hard the staff tried.
The name change to the Center for Women came in part from a suggestion by President
Jim Wagner, who knows something about the subject. The Center for Women at Case
Western Reserve was created in 2001 while Wagner was interim president. Crown
was a consultant in the effort, and the Case Center for Women is one of several
around the country modeled on Emory’s 12-year-old entity. Also, like Emory,
the Case center is seeking a major donor.
Crown, Williams and Federovitch moved in July 21–22, and the new space
is a work in progress. The library is set up, but that’s about it. Framed
art, including the photos that make up the exhibition “Significant Lives
of Women at Emory,” are leaned neatly against the corridor wall. Boxes
are stacked in most every corner.
The only signs advertising its location are sheets of copy paper (the best way
to get there is to enter Cox Hall on the south—Woodruff Library—side,
go past the Counseling Center and through the double doors at the
end of the
Despite the chaos of moving, the Center for Women’s programming is not
A newly expanded film series will debut this semester, and signature programs
such as Women’s Health and Wellness and Conversations on Mid- and Late-Life
Transitions will continue. Some events held in the old trailer’s conference
room may eventually move into spaces such as the Cox Hall ballrooms as well.
So, while the past month and perhaps the next few weeks could be a bit untidy
for the center and its staff, the move has been worth the wait. The center has
known no director other than Crown, and finding a permanent location has been
a quest of hers from day one.
“Every day I come in here,” she said, seated at her desk. “I
think about how perfect this space is.”