2 03, 2017
  • Festival of the Book 2017
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    Festival Brings 5 Days of Author Events and Many Months of Must-Reads

Festival Brings 5 Days of Author Events and Many Months of Must-Reads

By |March 2nd, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

The Virginia Festival of the Book is quintessentially Charlottesvillian in the embarrassment of educational and cultural riches it consistently brings us each year. It fits right in with the bustling local food and beverage scene, the stunning beauty of our natural and built environments, and our ample opportunities to take in elite athletics and vibrant arts offerings. But we’re pleased to point out that this celebration of the written word is one blessing we can extend to you wherever you are.


Our picks for this year’s festival are here in date order for you locals along with our insistence that you make time to soak up the abundant insights and inspirations these authors and moderator will be serving up in person. And we’re equally excited to share the heart of the festival – its books – with all of you regardless of where in the country or world your favorite comfy chair is situated. With the festival’s tradition of convening more than 400 authors and moderators for over 250 programs, the options can be overwhelming so our staff has crafted a short list of some of the events we find most intriguing this year.


Happy listening and reading! And special thanks to Abby Palko, Wynne Stuart, Mary Esselman, Claire Kaplan and Alison Kuhn for their contributions to our list.


Wednesday, March 22

Frances Curtis Barnhart (The Beauty of Impermanence) and Beatrix Ost (More than Everything and The Philosopher’s Style) share the stories of their lives and their art.


Authors Marie Benedict (The Other Einstein), Carrie Brown (The Stargazer’s Sister), and Stephen O’Connor (Thomas Jefferson Dreams of Sally Hemings) share their novels featuring characters with intimate connections to historic figures.


Our own Abby Palko has in past years taught a course called Jane’s Heirs, in which students read Jane Eyre and a variety of 20th and 21st century adaptations. She describes Patricia Park’s Re Jane as a very smart, modern retelling of Brontë’s novel transposed to the contemporary U.S. with a lesbian protagonist. At this event, Park and rare book curator Barbara Heritage will discuss the enduring influence of Charlotte Brontë’s nineteenth-century novel. The discussion will be held in the Dome Room of the renovated Rotunda, and will conclude with a book signing and an opportunity to examine and handle some of the rare artifacts displayed in the accompanying exhibition, “Shaping Eyre: Charlotte Brontë’s Classic Novel in 200 Objects.”


Hugh Byrne (The Here-and-Now Habit: How Mindfulness Can Help You Break Unhealthy Habits Once and for All) and Emily Esfahani Smith (The Power of Meaning: Crafting a Life That Matters) offer powerful practices for incorporating mindfulness and meaning into our lives.
9 02, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Alison Kuhn

By |February 9th, 2017|Blog|0 Comments|

Get to know our very own Communications Coordinator, Alison Kuhn!

1. Tell us about your path to UVA, to where you are now and the work you’re currently doing for the Women’s Center.

I’m the youngest of five by a fair bit. My Mom’s favorite story is when she took my brother and me to the doctor for our annual school shots — I was going into kindergarten, and my oldest brother was going to JMU. So through my siblings, I got to see a few different colleges starting when I was pretty little. I had visited my sister a few times while she was at UVA (which I now realize was an absurdly nice thing to do – who invites an 11 year old to come hang out with them at college?) and those experiences really stuck with me. I always admired my sister and wanted to follow in her footsteps, so UVA was always on my list. But when it actually came time for me to really look into schools, it became more apparent that it was a good choice for me, beyond my little sister inclinations.

I didn’t know much about the Women’s Center and everything it offered until one night when I was looking for internships on Grounds and found the Center’s site….an hour and a half before the internship application was due. So I stumbled into the Women’s Center, to say the least. I interned as a writer for Iris in 2014, worked as Assistant Editor for Iris in 2015, and started working as the Communications Coordinator full-time a few months after graduating in 2015.

2. Who would you most like to meet (living or dead) for coffee?

Jessica Valenti! I’ve always really loved her writing – she was one of the first feminist writers I read. I recently read her memoir and would love to grab coffee with her to talk about it.

3. Who would you most like to meet (living or dead) for an after-work drink?

Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer. I fell in love with Abbi and Ilana the first time I watched Broad City. They are beyond hilarious and I WISH I could go to happy hour with them.

15 10, 2016

Support and Resources for Survivors

By |October 15th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we stand with survivors of gender-based violence. The Women’s Center works to promote a supportive environment at UVA by actively engaging in discussions about social change, connecting with state and national advocacy organizations, and perhaps most importantly, by supporting the many students whose leadership among their peers is essential to bringing about a safe and healthy University community.

15 09, 2016

Support and Resources for an Inclusive University Community

By |September 15th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we stand with students, faculty and staff who are mounting a positive response to recent racist graffiti written in UVA residence halls. An environment that welcomes and supports people of different backgrounds, beliefs, ages, identities, ethnicities and worldviews best accomplishes the goals of a modern public institution of higher education. The Women’s Center works to promote this environment at UVA by actively engaging in discussions about social change and bias, challenging our assumptions, and perhaps most importantly, by supporting the many students whose leadership among their peers is essential to bringing about a truly inclusive University community.

21 04, 2016

Standing with QSU and BSA

By |April 21st, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we stand with the Queer Student Union and Black Student Alliance in mounting a positive response to recent degrading messages aimed at black and transgender people on UVA Grounds. An environment that welcomes and supports people of different backgrounds, beliefs, ages, identities, ethnicities and worldviews best accomplishes the goals of a modern public institution of higher education. The Women’s Center works to promote this environment at UVA by actively engaging in discussions about social change and bias, challenging our assumptions, and perhaps most importantly, by supporting the many students whose leadership among their peers is essential to bringing about a truly inclusive University community.

As always, students in need of a quiet space during challenging times may visit the Room to Breathe at the Women’s Center. We encourage students interested in information about additional support services to inquire by phone at 434-982-2361 or in person at 1400 University Avenue. We are open from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. When demand for our services exceeds what we are able to offer, we work to connect students to other resources on Grounds and in the Charlottesville community.

19 04, 2016

Join Us on Earth Day

By |April 19th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

Written by Tricia Crawford, Women’s Center Business Manager

How can we have a positive impact on our environment? As with other areas in which we hope to see change in the world around us, we can start by making changes in our own lives. If everyone committed to at least one change a year, can you imagine the difference that will make to the future of our earth? There is a direct relationship between the actions we take today and the environment of the future.

At the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we encourage you to make your own positive change in your environmental footprint, but its helpful and more fun to do that as part of a group. Come join us on Friday, April 22nd between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to celebrate our earth and make a commitment. We’ll have snacks, giveaways, and a drawing for a bag full of goodies! Commit to lessening your environmental footprint and make a pledge with us.

Earth Day is the world’s largest environmental event. The human race has contributed a great deal to the decline of our environment and it is important that we participate in the clean-up. We hear about how dumping trash and chemicals in our oceans, rivers, and lakes affects the purity of the water and how this in turn affects the longevity of wildlife and the water we drink. We hear about the diminishing rain forests. Over 7,000 square miles are destroyed every day. How is that possible? It is primarily destroyed by logging, agriculture, and mining. There are many microorganisms that support the unique plants and wildlife of the rain forests lost every day due to our actions. These are only two examples, the list is extensive.

Here are some suggestions in making a positive change in our daily lives:

  • Bring a waste-free lunch in reusable containers to work or school
  • Use washable plates, cups, utensils and napkins rather than disposable
  • Take a reusable beverage bottle when “on the go” rather than purchase one-time-use products
  • Take reusable bags shopping rather than be given a paper or plastic bag at the store
  • Use both sides of a piece of paper
  • Reuse or repair things I already own
  • Donate gently-used items to charity
  • Recycle at home, work and school
  • Collect plastic bottles after an event to recycle
  • Ride a bus, bike, carpool, or walk when possible
  • Power down – turn off lights, TV and other electronics when not in use
  • Turn off the water while brushing teeth, shaving, or washing dishes
  • Take shorter showers
  • Download class readings online instead of printing
  • Unplug chargers from outlets when not in use
  • Turn off fans before leaving the dorm room or house
  • Report a leaky faucet or running toilet by submitting a work order or calling maintenance
  • Use rechargeable batteries
  • Use compact florescent light bulbs, CFLs, or LED lighting
  • Purchase recycled goods whenever possible
  • Read a book on lowering your carbon footprint and follow the advice
  • Use biodegradable cleaning products
  • Purchase only what I need
  • Never litter and will pick up after others
  • Donate your books and magazines to Hospitals or Nursing Homes
15 03, 2016

Book Festival’s Social Justice Events Abound

By |March 15th, 2016|Blog|0 Comments|

What’s your favorite thing about living in Charlottesville? Making your meals from fresh goods grown nearby or heading to a favorite locally owned restaurant or take out purveyor? Staying in shape with outdoor, indoor, free, community-sponsored, or boutique fitness options? Listening to live music or seeing live theater at tiny, modest-sized or vast area performing arts venues? Redbuds blooming in the spring or fall foliage? Participating in or spectating a favorite sport – basketball, arm wrestling, soccer, swimming, tennis, lacrosse, roller derby?

With the staggering constellation of blessings offered year-round in Charlottesville, we occasionally forget to take advantage of some of the finer things that are right here at our fingertips. So here’s your reminder that over the next five days, you need to take an hour, if not a whole day, to get yourself to the Virginia Festival of the Book.

More than 400 authors and moderators are here to share their expertise in over 250 programs from now through Sunday. All but five of the events are free (with the above Bryan Stevenson event at the Paramount being a worth-it exception). And we’d like to join area media in taking note of the impressive array of author events on social justice themes being presented by the festival this year. Some of those events, but by no means all of them, are linked below. Explore for yourself using the festival’s list of tags to find even more.

29 12, 2015

Iris Turns 35 in Style

By |December 29th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments|

Over the past 35 years, CNN, Whole Foods, and Abby Wambach have proven that 1980 was an auspicious year in which to get your start. Each of them successfully combined the audacity it takes to go first with the grit it takes to endure. The radically altered landscapes of their respective fields today are populated by numerous and varied players that they inspired. It’s difficult for many of us today to even fathom the vision it took for them to strike out on such unblazed, and even unimagined, trails.


Sharon Davie, Leonard Sandridge and Bob Gibson at Sharon’s retirement celebration in 2015.

Here at UVA, our entry in the successful class of 1980 start-ups that just turned 35 is Iris, A Magazine for Thinking Young Women. It was a year of both celebration and reflection here as the Women’s Center itself reached 25 and its founder, Sharon Davie, retired. It struck us recently that Iris, which Sharon started well before the Center’s founding, is now the senior member of our team. In its more than three decades on Grounds, Iris has reinvented itself several times over. But the important place it has held throughout that time was apparent in the remarks of several University luminaries who spoke at Sharon’s retirement celebration. Leonard Sandrige, in his inimitable style, recalled the magazine’s impact in its early days saying, “Now I was on the board of Iris Magazine. I always thought that Sharon was fortunate and I was fortunate that no one asked her to describe why I was on it because I certainly didn’t know anything about publications and Sharon has reminded me on a number of occasions that I knew even less about women. But I will tell you that I watched Sharon in that environment and I saw her teach us why articles and essays that we thought had no place here on Grounds were not only appropriate, but they were absolutely necessary.” 

9 12, 2015

Women’s Center’s Claire Kaplan Honored with Bernard D. Mayes Award

By |December 9th, 2015|Blog, Gender Violence and Social Change|0 Comments|

Serpentine Society Leaders

Marcus Martin, VP and Chief Officer for Diversity and Equity, (2nd from left) joins Serpentine Society Board Members (left to right) Blakely Calhoun, Sharon McGowan and Brendan Wynn

On November 7, 2015, members of the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center’s staff had the pleasure of attending the Serpentine Society’s Fall Gala and seeing their long-serving colleague, Claire Kaplan, recognized for her contributions to the University’s LGBTQ community.

The Serpentine Society, an Alumni Interest Group of the University of Virginia Alumni Association, gives several scholarships and awards at this annual event where students, faculty, staff and alumni gather to honor the recipients, celebrate the successes of the society and its members, and encourage continued efforts to advance LGBTQ equality at the University.

anne broccoli

Anne Broccoli, Director, Faculty & Staff Benefits

The awards given by the Serpentine Society this year began with the presentation of the V. Shamim Sisson Ally Award to Anne Broccoli, the University’s Director of Faculty and Staff Benefits. Anne’s work has been important in the area of benefits equity for LGBTQ employees and their families. Shamim Sisson, for whom this award is named, has long been actively engaged with the Women’s Center’s work and our staff members attending the gala were glad to see Anne receive the award that bears Shamim’s name.

Everyone was touched by the presentation of the Serpentine Society’s Outstanding Service Award to Robert D. Sweeney, Senior Vice President of University Advancement. Bob was generous in sharing how unprepared he had been years ago to learn that one of his two sons is gay. He relayed how his initial misgivings had given way to an understanding of the challenges that LGBTQ youth face growing up and a sense of how important it is for schools to have the resources to support them. Bob was specifically recognized by the society for his unflinching leadership of an LGBTQ-inclusive organization that has driven successful fundraising campaigns for LGBTQ student scholarships, the LGBTQ Center, and LGBTQ Studies in the Women, Gender, and Sexuality program in Arts & Sciences.

The capstone of the evening was the presentation of the prestigious Bernard D. Mayes Award for excellence in public service to the LGBTQ community to Mark Herring (Col. 1983, Grad. 1987), Virginia Attorney General, and Claire Kaplan (Curry 1991), the program director for Gender Violence and Social Change at the Women’s Center.

8 12, 2015

Here’s why students call the Women’s Center “Home”

By |December 8th, 2015|Blog|0 Comments|

“You felt at home right when you walked in the Women’s Center!”
Preethi Varma (Col. & Batten 2014
Preethi is currently working in Chicago as a program manager for Urban Initiatives, a youth
development program using soccer and other games to promote social-emotional learning,
high school readiness, and violence prevention in 46 Chicago Public Schools. 


Today at the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, we reach more UVA students, faculty and staff than ever because of the generous spirit of supporters who offered their time and talents, and give their attention to reading and sharing updates we publish. Each day throughout the year at the Women’s Center, you can see our role as a hub of resources and opportunities in action.

The peaceful atmosphere for which we are so well known and loved is palpable in our counseling and meeting rooms and in our lovely Room to Breathe. Here our expert counselors bring their signature warmth and expertise to bear in the lives of clients – both men and women – who make the change they seek in their own lives through the individual counseling, support groups, screenings, and numerous information resources we offer. With support in overcoming obstacles, they can reap the full benefit of the education they are offered at UVA. Our staff is so touched by how often students and alumnae describe the Women’s Center as the place at UVA where they felt most at home. And we are proud to see how many of them go on to become advocates for others struggling with the same challenges they once sought support to face.