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College Ladies’s Membership closes after 100 years on campus

One of many longest-tenured members of the College Ladies’s Membership, Stella Cunningham, remembers a few of the curiosity teams that she participated in throughout her time with the group.

“The 6:00 Students was my favourite curiosity group and likewise the ‘Bridge-o-rama’, however we do not have it anymore,” Cunningham mentioned. “We used to play Bridge in numerous homes. I additionally loved the French membership.”

Cunningham joined within the early Nineteen Seventies and says not a lot has modified throughout her time within the group.

After a century of operations, nonetheless, the College Ladies’s Membership is closing its doorways.

The group celebrated its a centesimal anniversary not too long ago at a gala with dwell music from native jazz band Swing Principle.

The Swing Principle Jazz Band of Gainesville carried out on the College Ladies’s Membership’s last gala.
(Matthew Bell/WUFT Information)

President Barbara Bengston remembers when she joined the membership.

“Right here I used to be in Toledo, Ohio. I used to be very younger in 1974. I simply thought it was essentially the most fantastic factor on the planet that any person knew I used to be coming to this little city within the South.” Bengston mentioned.

Bengston mentioned the membership provided her an opportunity to fulfill new folks when she moved to Gainesville.

She explains that quite a lot of causes have been attributed to the group closing down.

This consists of declining membership and different retailers for college and their spouses to fulfill folks within the metropolis.

“I really feel it is a disgrace. Occasions have modified and girls now do not want a technique to meet folks. There are gyms, there are all types of different avenues that weren’t out there previous to the 90’s.” Bengston mentioned.

Bengston additionally attributes a decline in membership to a privateness difficulty that arose within the early 2000’s that prohibited the membership from inviting new members after they arrived on campus.

Talking on the last dinner for the membership, Bengston remembers the variety of members the membership as soon as had.

“At one level, there have been 442 members of the College Ladies’s Membership. I joined in 1974. There are a number of people who find themselves right here from earlier than that point,” Bengston mentioned. “We have now 77 members proper now and I feel it is pretty so a lot of you’re right here this night.”

Whereas some members of the College Ladies’s Membership are additionally members of the Gainesville Ladies’s Membership, the 2 teams will not be affiliated.

Dr. AA Murphee, the College of Florida’s second president based the membership in 1922.

members of the college Ladies’s Membership take pleasure in meals and dancing as native jazz band Swing Principle gives leisure on the group’s final gala.
(Matthew Bell/WUFT Information)

Initially named the College Dames, the membership hosted three annual occasions every year: the Fall reception for brand new members, an annual celebration for husbands and the Vespers tea for graduating seniors.

The group additionally sponsored actions comparable to musical occasions, discussions on present information and hosted campus guests like William Jennings Bryan, Invoice Tilden, and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings.

The College Ladies’s Membership additionally started providing scholarships to undergraduate college students in 1954 and graduate scholar scholarships in 1998.

Present scholarship recipients embody Emily Wellman and Natalie Johnson.

Wellman is a second-year PhD scholar learning fisheries and aquatic sciences in addition to oyster and salt marsh restoration.

On the last gala, Wellman mentioned she is honored to have obtained a scholarship from the group.

“It is a terrific honor, but in addition it is somewhat bit bittersweet as a result of I did not notice till very not too long ago that it is their final 12 months. I am somewhat unhappy that I am coming in on the finish.” Wellman mentioned.

The bittersweet feeling Wellman has been shared by different members.

Members and spouses of the College Ladies’s Membership benefit from the last gala on Oct. 8.
(Matthew Bell/WUFT Information)

Johnson is a fourth-year PhD scholar incomes a level in pharmacology and therapeutics.

She mentioned the scholarship could not have come at a greater time.

“It means so much. I can not emphasize that sufficient,” Johnson mentioned. “It got here at an ideal time when costs for as and meals have been loopy over the summer season. The truth that this group is beneficiant sufficient to spend the time to arrange and provides out these scholarships is wonderful.”

The group provided members an opportunity to attach by means of actions like bowling, tennis, golf, and daytime or night-time gourmets.

After 100 years on campus, the College Ladies’s Membership earned a historic marker, a steel plaque that commemorates organizations, recounts campus historical past and tradition and highlights people and teams who’ve made essential contributions to the College of Florida.

The historic marker is scheduled to be completed and positioned exterior the membership’s headquarters in late November or early December.

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