At the dawn of the Faculty Women’s Club’s ninth decade of socials and service, its members meet in the Michigan League. Eighty-one years ago, the club met in a small red brick house situated where the Burton Memorial Bell Tower now stands.
Nina Burton, wife of fourth University President Marion Burton, established the Faculty Women’s Club in 1921 as a social organization for female faculty and wives of faculty members. Today, the Club boasts more than 600 members and has grown from its inception as a social club to also include service initiatives and an endowment fund.
“The Club is essentially a social organization through which women associated with the University can meet each other and form meaningful relationships,” Club President Kathe Wunderlich said. “The Club offers interest sections – groups of people who meet to share common interests, such a music, foreign language, antiques or books.”
The Club also holds events; including a Fall reception, Winter Holiday party, Spring picnic and regular lectures on current issues.
“We hold informal living room chats, intellectual explorations with (University) scholars on critical topics such as Islamic thought and global warming,” Wunderlich said. “We try to provide an environment for both social interaction and friendships as well as scholarly advancement.”
The Faculty Women’s Club also serves the University community by welcoming visiting scholars and new faculty and by serving as hosts at many University functions, such as the annual Honors Convocation.
“We try to reach out to people new to the community,” said Karen Epstein, club member and former treasurer. “People come to the University from all over so we try to get them involved and introduce them to Ann Arbor.”
In 2000, the Club established an endowment fund through the Center for the Education of Women to provide financial aid to deserving female students. “The endowment fund provides critical need grants to students who would otherwise be unable to fund their academic pursuits at the University,” Wunderlich said. “So far we have helped two students to continue their studies.”
Both the club and its endowment are funded by contributions from club and community members. “In my 10 years as a member, I have noticed a gradual shift toward community outreach and service,” Epstein said. “The basis of the club, however, remains social interactions between women.”