The UCLA Faculty Women’s Club, one of the university’s most longstanding organizations, celebrated its 95th anniversary at their annual spring luncheon on Tuesday.
Founded in 1918, the Faculty Women’s Club originally consisted of faculty wives of the Los Angeles Normal School who supported the creation of a four-year university in Southern California. Over the years, the club has shifted its focus to promote education and social activities among members.
“We are very fortunate to have as our founders women who, in 1918, saw the need for women to get together about issues that affected women in higher education,” said Bette Billet, the president of the Faculty Women’s Club.
The club, which now includes men, has more than 20 special interest sections for activities such as foreign language conversation, play reading and international cooking and offers scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students.
This year, the club invited Sherry Lansing, a current UC regent, to be the guest speaker at the event.
“Sherry is an exemplary representative of what women who use their talent can do to change the lives of people around them for the better,” Billet said.
Lansing was the first woman to be appointed president of 20th Century Fox in 1980 and was named the chair and CEO of Paramount Pictures in 1992.
In a Q&A; session, Lansing was asked about what her life has been like in the decade since she turned 60 years old.
Lansing said she found her work less fulfilling after years of being in the movie industry, and she had a desire to spend more time exploring her interest in philanthropy.
“My value system was changing. … I enjoyed my time in the movie business, but things didn’t mean as much because I had experienced success and I had experienced disappointment, and I was repeating myself,” Lansing said.
After retiring from the movie industry, or “rewiring” to focus on philanthropy work, she founded the Sherry Lansing Foundation which is dedicated to cancer research, public education and encore career opportunities, in 2005.
Following the conversation with Lansing, Billet awarded Marilyn Slater, the club’s database manager, with the outstanding member of UCLA’s Faculty Women’s Club award.
Slater said she thinks the Faculty Women’s Club provides a great service for the community and is a way for faculty women and spouses of faculty members to give back to the community.
“Some people have a great curiosity and love to learn. The Faculty Women’s Club provides that kind of stimulation for people who are interested in lifelong learning,” Slater said.
Slater said that, as a woman studying information science, she felt like an outcast in college and was sometimes told by male students and professors that she was taking a place a man should have. She said professors discouraged her from gaining an education.
Slater said she thinks that at the time, the Faculty Women’s Club provided her and other women a chance to have more of a a voice in higher education in the UCLA community.
The Faculty Women’s Club signifies the loyalty that faculty, faculty wives and women have to UCLA, Billet said.
The club awards scholarships to people such as Dr. Dean Ho, who works in nanotechnology and collaborated with Dr. Linda Liau, a neurosurgeon, to eliminate cancerous cells.
The Faculty Women’s Club also supports educational and medical projects through their scholarships, and invites scholarship recipients to an annual dinner to talk about their work.
“To hear them talk about their work is really inspiring, and they are inspired in turn, because they see all these people who give money so they can continue their work,” Billet said.