Women’s Center looks ahead despite future relocation


Molly Merryman and Evgenia Fotiou talk at the Williamson House Grand Opening Sept. 28, 2016.

Just two years after becoming the home of the Women’s Center, the Williamson House will be torn down to make space for a new parking deck.

“Initially, we were surprised by the decision to take down our current space after only two years, but now we understand it is part of a larger comprehensive plan that’s best for the university,” said Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, the director of the Women’s Center.

The change is all part of the university’s 10-year Master Plan to renovate Kent State’s campus.

The new parking deck will serve as a convenience for commuter and off-campus students.

“The relocation of the Women’s Center will be included in Phase I of the Master Plan, which runs from 2018 to 2020,” said Kristin Anderson, Kent State’s director of external media relations.

Both transformational projects lock in at 12 through 14 on a list of 17 total construction projects that comprise Phase I.

“The demolition of Williamson House and Carriage House will follow with a multi-use parking structure off Main Street, planned to begin construction in Phase I as well,” Anderson said.

The Women’s Center, Sexual and Relationship Violence Support Services (SRVSS) and the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion are organizations currently in the Williamson House.

“My energy is certainly supporting the efforts of the larger plan but also advocating for the space and the resources we have here,” Pegg-Kirby said.

The center currently offers services such as faculty and staff yoga, a food pantry, mentorship and various other programs and initiatives.

“Certainly, the physical space supports the ability for us to do our jobs, but so much more about what we do is the figurative spaces we create wherever we are, so people can come in and come together in conversation,” Pegg-Kirby said.

Pegg-Kirby is not sure of the relocation process, but she has ideas of where the center could thrive.

“I would love to relocate in a creative and collaborative space, such as the innovation hub,” Pegg-Kirby said. “We need a space that all members of the Kent State community can feel comfortable in.”

Anderson said the details as to where the center will be moving on campus are still under consideration by the Board of Trustees.

“There are many factors to think about when making a campus-wide decision,” Anderson said.

Total costs for the demolition, relocation and multi-use parking structure add up to over $25 million.

“I don’t think changing our physical location will impact or affect the work we do, and in many ways it can be an opportunity for the Women’s Center to grow and continue to articulate our underlying values to the rest of the university,” Pegg-Kirby said.

Faith Riggs is the women and gender issues reporter. Contact her at [email protected].

Moira Reed is the construction reporter. Contact her at [email protected].