In the 38 years since women were admitted to the School of Law and 25 years since the first undergraduate women arrived, they are as woven into the W&L fabric as are their male counterparts. In the 38 years since women were admitted to the School of Law and 25 years since the first undergraduate women arrived, they are as woven into the W&L fabric as are their male counterparts. To engage them even further, the University, with the encouragement of the trustees, has hosted informal, all-women gatherings around the country.
Committees planned the events, which were held in private homes. In true W&L fashion, they were fun and full of networking opportunities. The first occurred at the home of Trustee Sarah Nash Sylvester P '06, '08, in New York, followed by receptions in Atlanta, Washington and Charlotte, N.C. Events in Dallas and Houston are coming up.
"Our purpose in hosting these gatherings is to engage women who graduated from W&L and to do so in a meaningful way," said Trustee Alston Parker Watt '89. "These events bring together doctors and lawyers, stay-at-home moms, philanthropists and business owners in a way that adds a human touch to networking that we as women crave."
Along with fellow trustees Jessine Monaghan '79L and Dallas Hagewood Wilt '90, Watt has attended most of the events. The trio provides guests with an update on the University and encourages their fellow alumnae to support W&L in personally meaningful ways.
"We don't yet have a critical mass of women, so I was surprised to learn just how well we give," said Watt. "We're an integral part of W&L's success, not only because we give, but also because we serve."
Nan Clarke '76L is one such alumna. She has worked at the chapter level, as a member of the Alumni Board and now as a class agent. She opened her Charlotte home for the most recent event and was heartened to see so many attendees. "Many of our guests said the format appealed to them," said Clarke, "which leads me to think there is a hunger and interest in coming together as women."
Wilt notes that these events are not intended to supersede regular alumni chapter events but to reinforce connections. "Women give for different reasons than men, and we give differently," she said. "As donors, we want a connection to our gift and continued involvement in its success. As an institution, we want to give something back to our donors, and these gatherings are one way of doing that."