The society engages women in the life of the university through education, scholarships, student projects and leadership. It carries out its mission through its support of university programs, full-tuition scholarships and lectures.
To forward its mission, in 1966 the Women’s Society initiated several small businesses to serve students, faculty and staff. The Bear Necessities shop, located in Umrath House on the South 40, is now thriving both as a valuable service and as an enterprise that supplies a large portion of the proceeds needed to support scholarships and sponsor student projects.
Outreach in St. Louis
WSWU has also taken many significant steps to solidify the relationship between St. Louis and the university.
In 1976, the Women’s Society established a scholarship endowment, which funds annual two-year, full-tuition scholarships for students transferring from St. Louis Community College. This scholarship was later renamed the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship in honor of Mrs. William H. Danforth’s 24 years of service to the university as first lady.
Connections with the University
Also supported are the Women’s Society Lecture Series, which showcases distinguished Washington University faculty; the annual Adele Chomeau Starbird Lecture, which features an accomplished woman of national prominence; and the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award, which recognizes graduating senior women.
The Women’s Society continues to enhance its support of students and programs at Washington University through its funding of many campus projects. In 2017-18, the society granted $30,000 to 23 university projects, including:
- Activating a Literacy Community – Dec.-May
- Africa Week – Oct. 29-Nov. 2
- African Film Festival – March 31-April 2
- Ballroom Social Dance – Feb.
- Black Anthology’s Production – Jan. 26-27
- Catalyst for Change – Nov.-May
- Chancellor’s Reception for International Students – Aug. 23
- Chemistry Tournament – April 7
- Cornerstone – The Learning Center – Summer-Fall
- Human Bowling Night – Mx WashU – Feb.
- International Women’s Day – March 8
- Kappa Delta Color Run – Fall
- Medical Brigade-Honduras – Spring Break
- Meet St. Louis – Aug.-Sept.
- Occupational Therapy Trip to Guatemala– May 8-16
- Out of The Blue Literacy – Fall-Spring
- OWN IT: Women’s Leadership Summit – Fall
- Pow Wow – April 21
- Pre-College Initiative – Jan.-March
- Relay for Life – April 7-8
- WU Race Car – May
- Women in STEM Day – Feb. 23-24
- Women of Color Forum – Jan.-June
Many of these projects are open to the public. We will include details in upcoming newsletters. In the meantime, you can search for more information about a particular project on the university’s website at http://wustl.edu/
Milestones In Our History
|Founded in 1965|
|1966||Opened Bear Necessities Shop, providing funds for scholarships and student projects.|
|1976||Established the Women’s Society Scholarship, an annual two-year full-tuition scholarship, awarded to outstanding St. Louis Community College students (now known as the Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarship).|
|1986||Initiated the “Town & Gown” Lecture Series for WSWU members, featuring Washington University’s talented faculty (now known as the Women’s Society Lecture Series).|
|1988||Established the Adele Starbird Lecture, featuring a nationally renowned speaker each year in honor of Adele Chomeau Starbird, Washington University’s dean of women from 1931-1959.|
|1998||Initiated the Women’s Society Leadership Award for outstanding senior women (now known as the Harriet K. Switzer Leadership Award).|
|2004||Launched the annual “Composing a Life” panel event for women students.|
|2007||Awarded two full-time Elizabeth Gray Danforth Scholarships.|
|2009||Moved Bear Necessities to its new home in Umrath House.|
|2015||Commemorated the founding of the society (in March 1965) by holding three 50th anniversary celebratory events for members and their guests while raising dollars for the scholarship endowment and adding over 120 new members to the organization.|