Campus celebrates year of UNA women


Alex Hopper, News Editor

 This year, the University of North Alabama celebrates its 150 year anniversary of admitting women. 

In 1872, The State Normal School at Florence, now UNA, made the historic decision to open its doors to women – making it the oldest co-educational teacher’s college in the United States.

To mark this milestone, a committee of educators, students and university staff – along with many sponsors – have worked to highlight women’s accomplishments throughout the university’s history. 

Many of the celebrations planned will act as female-focused integrations within usual university operations. 

These integrations include having all women recipients of the university’s homecoming awards and choosing all female composers for the homecoming half-time show. 

Michelle Eubanks, director of university communications and marketing, details the efforts of this committee. 

“We’ll have little nuanced things that will happen in the fall, mostly integration of the Year of the UNA Woman with events that are already taking place,” Eubanks 

“[These integrations] will celebrate the women who have gone before and all their contributions, but also hopefully inspire the women who are in college now,” The sesquicentennial will be observed for the entire academic year. During the spring semester, a three-day “Weekend of Women” event will be held. This event will include “Light the Fountain,” where Governor Kay Ivey has been invited to attend. Additionally, a more formal event will be held to showcase the history of women at UNA. 

To inspire future generations of women in academia, the committee will also hold a special “Future Lions” preview day. 

“We want women very early on in their academic careers, as young as sixth grade, to say ‘I can see myself at the University of North Alabama,’” Eubanks said. 

Another way Eubanks has chosen to highlight the experiences of women on campus is through special editions of the UNA Magazine. 

“What better way to launch the Year of the UNA Woman than with a publication that would not only be available on campus, but it would also be available in the homes of almost 35,000 members of our alumni group?” Eubanks asked. 

The most recent issue, published in June, was the beginning of a three-part story Eubanks hopes to continue in the upcoming editions of the magazine. 

Another will be released in December that focuses on current stories of women at UNA, followed by an issue that projects toward the future. 

Other changes students can look out for come in the form of adapted branding. Most notably, the UNA logo has been re-designed to feature just a lioness instead of both Leo and Una. 

“This is a very subtle but very powerful reminder that women have always been an anchor on this campus,” Eubanks said. 

Additionally, special merchandise that students can buy to commemorate the Year of the UNA Woman will be available in the UNA Bookstore. Holtz Leather, a Huntsville based company, has partnered with UNA to create this special opportunity. 

“They (Holtz Leather) love our story,” Eubanks said. “They love the fact we are the state’s oldest institution to admit women.” 

In addition to being supporters of the Year of the UNA Woman, Vice President of Holtz Leather, Becka Christian, is a UNA alum – making the support all the more personal. 

“They have made wonderful items to help us celebrate this visually,” said Eubanks. “We want students to buy those to not only support Holtz Leather but to be proud of those limited editions items.”

All of these notable additions to campus are thanks to a presidential initiative that helped set up the committee. 

“The task force was chosen because they were going to be able to bring an academic component and a community component [to the team],” Eubanks said. 

“There is also some student representation there so that we don’t miss any very important cohort or audience in this,” said Eubanks. 

Eubanks also stresses that there will be many ways for anyone who wants to get involved to play a part. 

“We will definitely need all hands on deck as we go throughout this year,” Eubanks said. “There is room for everybody to be at the table.”

The plans the committee has laid out for the Year of the UNA Woman will make evident the campus’ history, it’s present, and the hopes for its future.