Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Advancement of Women in Communication Suite opens in Bozorth Hall

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President Ali Houshmand and Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver cut the ribbon to open the Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication Suite. - Contributor / Gavin Schweiger

The Dr. Lillian Lodge Kopenhaver Advancement of Women in Communication Suite had a grand opening in Bozorth Hall last Friday, April 5. The ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house brought faculty and students from all backgrounds to celebrate and network.

Much like its counterparts at Florida International University and Stephens College, the suite will be a new multi-use space for students to meet, and attend workshops and seminars with women leaders, as well as a space for clubs to organize.

Dean Sanford Tweedie gave opening remarks and noted the history of the new space, which started as an elementary school classroom.

Dr. Julie Haynes, the director of the Center at Rowan University for years before the suite’s opening, spoke next. She described the importance of having a space made especially for women’s advancement.

“This space represents a gathering spot for those committed to gender equity,” Haynes said. “It will benefit countless students.”

After Haynes, a student intern, and President Ali Houshmand both took the podium to make simple remarks about the space and thank the people who made it possible.

Dr. Lilian Kopenhaver then had her time to speak to the crowd, where she made it evident how excited she was to be at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“I’m delighted to be back in my alma mater,” Kopenhaver said.

She went on to describe Rowan’s role as a satellite of the Center of the Advancement of Women in Communication at Florida International. 

Rowan’s involvement started in 2020 virtually, and just now the Center is getting its own room, after four years of empowering “young women in all fields of communication,” Kopenhaver said, “in order to develop visionaries and leaders who can make a difference in their community.”

Kopenhaver described the different ways the Center has operated and how the suite will be used going forward. Students will be able to attend seminars from women in communications, leadership workshops, and boot camps, Dr. Haynes adding later that it is “open to any gender identity.”

Kariyah Bennett, a first-year graduate student intern for the Center in charge of creating profiles and running social media, noted how important she felt the new suite was.

“In the communications industry it is very hard for women,” Bennett said, “I want to show a little girl like myself that it is possible when you work hard…and when we work together and we network.”

After Kopenhaver spoke, the space opened for people to meet new people, network, and chat, and the ribbon was cut. The atmosphere was electric, with people laughing and talking happily and loudly. 

The large space has plenty of seating for students to use during events and a large TV for virtual meetings and potential movie nights. The area is intended to serve as a safe space for students to learn and share their experiences.

Andrea Riley, a student who had previously engaged with Rowan’s Center virtually, was excited to be able to interact with the Center in a new way.

“Every time I’m on campus I’m in [Bozorth],” Riley said, “I’m looking forward to taking advantage of whatever they have.”

On the new suite and the Center’s impact, Riley was excited to see that the university is practicing what it preaches. 

“It’s one thing to curse the dark, but it’s another to actually light the candle,” said Riley.

Kopenhaver was delighted to see the new space come to fruition.

“By existing it is giving young women confidence and empowering them,” said Kopenhaver.

To succeed, Kopenhaver noted, students need to use that confidence, develop skills, and take advantage of anything that the Center or anyone else offers. She also mentions that having a mentor and networking are important ways to climb the ladder.

“Once you graduate you ought to get a mentor,” Kopenhaver said, “you have to put your hand out and say ‘hi.'”

With issues of inequality in female leadership in the United States becoming more prevalent, having a space like the Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication is something Kopenhaver hopes will encourage diversity and representation in leadership positions.

“You look around and feel good about the mission of the center,” Kopenhaver said, “we’ve cracked the ceiling, but it’s not broken yet. And we need to break it.”

More information about the Lilian Lodge Kopenhaver Center for the Advancement of Women in Communication can be found on the Center’s Instagram, @ruwomenincomm, or online at ccca.rowan.edu/women-in-communication/.

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