Posted June 11, 2010 Atlanta, GA
Colleen Riggle Looks To The Future
As Georgia Tech’s strategic planning process draws to a close, one of the Institute’s most distinguished entities, the Women’s Resource Center (WRC), is ready to begin designing its future under the leadership of the newly appointed Director and Assistant Dean of Students, Colleen Riggle. Prior to serving as Director, Riggle was the Center’s coordinator. She holds a bachelor’s degree in exercise and health science from Alma College and master’s degree in college student affairs leadership from Grand Valley State University.
In addition to her work with the WRC, Riggle is actively involved in advocacy for women in higher education. She is the newly elected co-chair of National Women’s Studies Association Women’s Center Committee as well as a member of the Women in Student Affairs Knowledge Community within the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators (NASPA).
GT: How did you become interested in working with female students?
CR: During my time in graduate school, I had the opportunity to work with the Women’s Resource Center in its infancy. I felt passionately about the programs and services the Center was creating. During my tenure at the University of Tampa, I had the opportunity to create and develop a new Women’s Resource Center, so when the WRC Coordinator position was created at Georgia Tech in June 2006, it was a natural career path for me. Being the Director of a Women’s Center is an honor I’ve always wanted to achieve.
GT: Why did you decide to work at Georgia Tech?
CR: I came to Georgia Tech specifically to work at the WRC. It was a perfect fit with my experience and passion for working on sexual violence initiatives. Yvette Upton [founder and the first director of the WRC] was—and still is—a wonderful mentor and friend who supported me during my four years as the WRC’s coordinator.
GT: Why are you interested in issues surrounding sexual violence?
CR: I realized early in grad school how prevalent sexual violence is on a college campus and there is a lot that people can do just to educate themselves and be aware. My interest grew from there. I learned more about it, and found that I knew people who had experienced it. That sort of draws you in.
GT: What are you most looking forward to in your new role?
CR: I am truly excited about leading the Women’s Resource Center into the future and serving on the management team for the Office of the Dean of Students. I am thrilled to support other members of the team.
GT: What is your vision for the Women’s Resource Center?
CR: The WRC celebrated its tenth anniversary 2008, and we’re proud to be viewed as a ‘best practice’ that offers superior programming to female students. Utilizing the WRC Advisory Board and student input, I am interested in continuing the high level of programming and exploring additional services and program that might be of interest to staff and faculty. In addition, I would like to explore development opportunities for the center, while assisting with the recruitment and retention of women students. I also hope to bring more technology into the center to help people stay connected and be more aware.
GT: Can the campus community anticipate any changes to the WRC?
CR: With any new leadership position, it’s best to assess first before making any changes. I anticipate that there will be changes over the next few years in order to move the Center to the next level.
GT: How would you describe the “next level” for the WRC?
CR: A lot of people are aware that the WRC is at Tech. We are at a point where we are doing good programs and services for students. We want to think about how the future of WRC ties in to the Georgia Tech Strategic Plan over the next five, ten and 15 years. Are there ways that we could be supporting women faculty and staff on campus? I am not sure exactly what that looks like, but I think I will spend the next year exploring and conducting assessments to get a clearer picture. We are mainly here to serve students, but if faculty and staff have any issues they want us to look at, let us know. It is something we want to explore.
GT: What kind of programming does the WRC currently sponsor?
CR: We offer programming year-round, such as sexual violence prevention, field trips to the Fox Theatre, or camping. In the fall may have a documentary series. A lot of people just walk in to the WRC to chat or talk through a situation. We always try to provide support or resources if a student needs help. We often act as mediator to help them work through issues with other individuals.
GT: Are there any new or existing initiatives or programs that the WRC will be rolling out this year?
CR: This will be a year of transition as I move into my new role and hire a new Women’s Resource Center Coordinator. I anticipate using this year to look forward to reflect on the next ten years of the WRC at Georgia Tech, as well as gather feedback from students and faculty to determine the strategic vision for the WRC.
GT: How are students, faculty, and staff currently involved in the center?
CR: Students are involved in Women’s Awareness Month and the Women’s Leadership Conference. We also have several students that work in the front area of the center, welcoming and helping support students that visit the WLC. Faculty and staff are involved in an advisory capacity and in tasks forces [such as the sexual violence task force]. We have a lot of people that want to volunteer their time at events such as Take Back the Night. We also work closely with Health Promotions and Housing. We try to collaborate with other departments on all of our programs.
GT: How can individual or groups get involved with the WRC?
CR: We are always looking for volunteers. If a person is interested they should set up a meeting with me so we can discuss how to use his or her talents. People can follow us via our website, twitter, or facebook.