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Faculty Women's Club celebrates 60 years of community

President Cannon thanks members for six decades of service
November 4, 2016
Among those attending the Faculty Women’s Club recognition luncheon on Oct. 29 were, from left: Elizabeth Solecki, Monica Paul, Kate Bentley (current co-president), Tannis Teskey, Lorri Post, Eileen Lohka, Elizabeth Cannon (honorary president), Michelle Caird, and Polly Knowlton Cockett (current co-president). Photo by Tung Bui, for the University of Calgary

Among those attending the Faculty Women’s Club recognition luncheon on Oct. 29 were, from left: Elizabeth Solecki, Monica Paul, Kate Bentley (current co-president), Tannis Teskey, Lorri Post, Eileen Lohka, Elizabeth Cannon (honorary president), Michelle Caird, and Polly Knowlton Cockett (current co-president). Photo by Tung Bui, for the University of Calgary  

1956 founding members Marjorie Norris and Barbara Guy. Photo by Tung Bui, for the University of Calgary

1956 founding members Marjorie Norris and Barbara Guy. Photo by Tung Bui, for the University of Calgary  

“Memories, memories — friendship, service, fun.” These are the first words of the Faculty Women’s Club Memories song, written by Margaret Oliver and sung for what might be the last time on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. After 60 years of serving the university community, the club is disbanding.

Founded in 1956, the Faculty Women’s Club (FWC) was instrumental in creating a welcoming community for the faculty and staff recruited to the University of Calgary from across Canada and around the globe. The club became the vital link between women, the university and the wider community of Calgary.

University of Calgary President Elizabeth Cannon hosted a celebratory luncheon for FWC members on the occasion of their final year of operation to recognize their contribution. As honorary president of the FWC, Cannon delivered a thank you on behalf of the campus community. Following are her remarks.

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It’s my pleasure to be here with you today as we celebrate the wonderful impact that the Faculty Women’s Club has had on the University of Calgary. Since the very beginning, the FWC has been a part of our university family, building strong ties of friendship and support between women on our campus and in our city. And over the years, this dedicated community-building has made a difference.

Today, our university is known as a leader not only in our research and teaching, but also in our commitment to making a positive difference in the lives of those around us, whether it is mentoring a student or giving back to our community. We owe much of this reputation to the work of FWC members — this is our opportunity to say a very heartfelt “thank you.” So on behalf of the entire University of Calgary family, I’d like to recognize all of you who have supported the success of the FWC and helped make our university a great place to be.

In particular, thank you: Marjorie Norris and Barbara Guy, two of the founding members of the FWC; Elizabeth Challice, Margaret Oliver and Dorothy Krueger, members who were a part of the FWC since the ’50s; Sue White, FWC’s past honorary president and the wife of a former president at our university, Dr. Terry White; Dr. Mary Valentich, who served as our university’s second adviser to the president on women’s issues; Dr. Polly Knowlton Cockett and Kate Bentley, co-presidents of the FWC; and all of the many other FWC members here who have given their time, energy and caring over the years.

Through your efforts, we can be very proud of our thriving university community.

As you know, the University of Calgary turned 50 this year, so this is a time of reflection and celebration for all of our university family members, both past and present. We’re looking back at how far our institution has come, and we see the tremendous guiding role of supporters like you. 

You may have seen the billboard on Crowchild Trail this past April that read: 50 Years of Grit and Gumption. I believe that the Faculty Women’s Club was created by women made of grit and gumption. Your unfailing wisdom, energy and grit helped build a true spirit of community here and supported the university as we grew.

In the early days, people came to the city and the fledgling University of Calgary from all over the world. For them, you were the welcome wagon, helping our newest family members to settle in and providing support whenever and however you could. And the list of your contributions is truly impressive.

You donated to our university’s cultural archives, buying books for the library and adding some of the first paintings to our permanent art collection. When we needed better childcare and housing options on campus, you helped create a co-operative for housing and programs for babysitting and preschool. You recognized the importance of making post-secondary education accessible, so you pooled your resources and raised funds to create one of our university’s first undergraduate scholarships.

And whenever there was an opportunity to build connections on our campus and in our city, you tried to support, organizing many, many events over the years to celebrate the accomplishments of our community members.

I understand that during the early convocation ceremonies, you were in charge of the luncheon and led the massive task of preparing hundreds of sandwiches. Many of you still continue to offer your support as convocation volunteers at each and every ceremony, with superstar volunteers like Dr. Eileen Lohka setting a record for the number of ceremonies she has contributed to.

Because of all of these efforts and many more, our university is a dynamic, caring place where people have the support they need to succeed.

As we prepare for the wrap-up of the Faculty Women’s Club, our farewell is bittersweet. There’s some sadness as we look at the end of such an incredible organization and reflect on so many fond memories of the young University of Calgary. But there’s a lot of excitement too. Today, thanks to you, our university family has grown up with solid values of collaboration, commitment and compassion.

We know that we can achieve great things when we work together and we can look forward to a bright future where we continue to leave a meaningful impact on the world around us. The next 50 years will be amazing and we have you to thank. Thank you!

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The voices of the women and the work they’ve done is memorialized in the anthology Golden Threads: Women Creating Community, published in 2009 in recognition of the FWC’s 50th anniversary which can be found in the Doucette Library.

Read more about the FWC on the 50th Anniversary website. Check out the archival photos, the hair-dos and outfits from the Town and Gown Balls back in the 1960s. While you’re on the site, share your own UCalgary story, tell us what brought you here, what you accomplished while you were here, and what people influenced you along the way.