Women are more involved in higher education than ever, but Utah women are lagging behind the nation.
Dixie State University now has the Women’s Resource Center to assist and encourage female students during their educational experience. Donna Dillingham-Evans, former vice president of academics, implemented the idea for a women’s center, and Florence Bacabac, an assistant professor of English, became the program’s director because of her experience in women-related initiatives.
“A lot of institutions in the state already have established women’s centers except for Dixie State, and since we recently became a university, having a program like this shows we are moving forward and growing as a community,” Bacabac said.
Bacabac said she hopes the center can provide traditional and non-traditional female students with unique resources to meet their professional and academic goals and to work with other DSU organizations with similar interests to help women succeed in finishing their degrees.
According to Utah Women Research Project, the percent of Utah female students in higher-education (49 percent) is far less than the national average (57 percent).
“I think most women need to learn how to integrate their family and professional lives more effectively, and knowing how to balance these can contribute to their success,” Bacabac said. “Of course, the institution as a whole, not just this program, needs to offer more encouragement and support to our students, especially our female student population.”
The center began functioning fall semester of this academic year, and Bacabac and Lacy Culpepper, a junior English major from Clinton and student assistant to Bacabac, have organized events and created ways for female students to get involved. But there is still need for help.
“Admittedly, we are starting from scratch and operating on a meager budget, so we need volunteers and student interns to sustain the program at this point,” Bacabac said.
Female students can get involved with the program by attending events and participating in campus discussion, Bacabac said.
Culpepper said she has promoted awareness of the center by creating brochures, working with the DSU Student Association’s Inter Club Council, talking with students, and coordinating events for this year and next year.
“Next semester we want to do more events,” Culpepper said. “We are thinking of our kickoff event for the year. Also, we are planning activities and hopefully will get some service activities and dialogue on campus.”
Bacabac also shared some items she would like to see implemented.
“We want to offer more student workshops in collaboration with other organizations on- and off-campus to help women achieve balance in their family, work, and academic lives,” Bacabac said. “I am currently working on projects that involve mentoring and support, and we believe these efforts will be critical to our female students’ success.”
The center is currently in the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons room 489 but will relocate in the future.
Bacabac said she can be contacted there or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
She said a website for the center will be launched on Dixie.edu in the near future.
“The Women’s Resource office may be starting small, but we have definitely arrived,” Bacabac said.