The Association for Women Faculty was formed at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill during the summer of 1978 to promote intellectual and social contact among women faculty members.
The original constitution and bylaws were adopted in 1979, then later amended in 1992 to allow professional women on campus to join as full members of the organization, which changed its name to the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals.
AWFP established the Mary Turner Lane award in 1986, named to honor Mary Turner Lane, founding director of the Curriculum in Women’s Studies and the first recipient of the award.
The year 2002-03 brought more change to AWFP. In August, the Provost’s office withdrew administrative support, and AWFP launched its first Web site, designed by graduate student Li Zhao. To fill the administrative void, the Carolina Women’s Center agreed to provide administrative support, including Web site maintenance, to AWFP for one year. In exchange, AWFP made a donation of $500 to the Women’s Center and invited Shelly Golden, then assistant director of the Carolina Women’s Center, to attend AWFP board meetings. In 2011, AWFP’s “home base” moved to the Office of Faculty Governance, where former President Anne Whisnant provided web site support and OFG administrative assistant Katie Turner provided logistical support in return for a complimentary membership in the organization.
At monthly meetings, the Association’s board of directors discusses topics of interest to the University’s female faculty and staff. In addition to providing professional and social networking opportunities, AWFP has often assumed an advocacy role for women faculty and professionals. For example, in a meeting with the Chancellor in 2001, AWFP representatives raised the issue of retention of women faculty and professionals.
Additional issues of concern in the early 2000s included
- salary equity
- university assistance with employment searches for “trailing” spouses
- the physical health aspects of the campus work environment (workplace conditions) and educational opportunities for lower-paid workers, especially clerical workers most of whom are women
- child care opportunities and funding for women faculty and staff
- greater attention to diversity in hiring top campus leadership positions
AWFP participates in Women’s Week in March of each year. For example, a luncheon honoring minority women faculty was held in 2004; a seminar on women mentoring women was held in 2007.
In the spring of 2012, AWFP inaugurated a monthly lunchtime discussion series featuring women leaders speaking about issues of current concern to women faculty and professionals on campus, including the 2012 proposed North Carolina constitutional amendment on marriage and the forthcoming report of the Provost’s Salary Equity Task Force, chaired by Prof. Laurie McNeil (Physics).
Records for the early years of the Association, including its constitution and bylaws, correspondence, membership lists, minutes of meetings, publicity, lists of officers, and records of honors and awards, are stored in the University Library archives.
Additional minor revisions to the constitution and bylaws, such as revising the size of the board of directors, were made and adopted in 2007.