Catharine S. Eberly, a member of The University of Toledo’s Board of Trustees in the 1970s, served as an advocate for women. In 1978, she helped to establish a campus women’s center and sat on its advisory board.
The following year, Eberly died in a tragic car accident. In 1980, the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women was named to honor her legacy.“I never met my grandmother, but from the stories I hear she was a remarkable woman — kind, thoughtful and generous,” said her granddaughter, Sloan Eberly Mann. “At her funeral, John Straub, president of The University of Toledo Board, stated, ‘I believe Kate’s most lasting contribution … is her pressure on us for sensitivity to the goals and aspirations of women. She did this by example, by her calm logic, and, when necessary, with forceful, but always polite, persuasion.’”
Focusing on advocacy, education, empowerment and student financial assistance, the Eberly Center has evolved through the past 40 years to reflect the changing needs of women on campus and in the community. Current programs include:
• Kate’s Closet — professional women’s clothing at no cost;
• Courageous Conversation — community dialogue series on intersectional gender equity;
• Monthly Teach-Ins — exploring personal, professional and political issues that impact women;
• Suffrage Summit — Wednesday and Thursday, Sept. 16 and 17, in partnership with the League of Women Voters; and
• Scholarships — for women in STEM careers, seeking a second degree, impacted by domestic violence, and those who are single parents.
Eberly Mann’s father, Michael, who died in August 2018, also served on the center’s advisory board. Now she fills that position. “My grandmother and my father believed education is the key to equality,” she said, “and I will continue to honor both of their legacies as best I can.”
Last fall, the Eberly Center welcomed a new director.
“Dr. Angela Fitzpatrick is shaping a strong vision for the center’s future, which honors the legacy of the past, but also recognizes the importance of meeting needs of women today,” Eberly Mann said.
“It is a remarkable time to be a woman,” Fitzpatrick said. “Over the last few years, we have seen a powerful resurgence among women mobilizing to end social and political inequities.”
She said the center is “tapping into this power by creating spaces where women feel empowered and valued, and can develop tools for personal and professional growth.”
Despite the gains women made in the past century, significant inequities still exist in political office, student loan debt and wage gap.
“I believe it is our responsibility to advocate for gender equitable practices and policies,” she said, “and assist women in reaching their full potential.”
As a first-generation college student who was a young mother, Fitzpatrick noted, “Sometimes we need someone to remind us of our strength and to help us find the way forward. I feel passionate about using my position here to open doors for women and remove barriers that
might prevent them from walking through those doors.”
The Eberly Center is developing its strategic plan, exploring the needs of women on campus and in the community, and making data-driven decisions about programs and services to best address those needs.
“I am a firm believer in collaboration and building power together,” Fitzpatrick said. “Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you want to partner.”
For more information about the Eberly Center, or to make a financial contribution, contact Fitzpatrick at email@example.com or 419.530.8574.