The official dedication ceremony for the Francis A. Wilcox Intercultural & Student Organization Center was held at 3 p.m. on Sept. 8. The new Wilcox Center is now open to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week and houses the relocated Women’s Resource Center.
Faculty, staff and students were joined by the immediate family of Francis A. Wilcox, including his brother Jim Wilcox, sister-in-law Mary, and sister Marilyn Keehle. His nephew Kevin Keehle and wife Susan offered the final words of the ceremony. Dr. Anthony Baird, vice president of Division for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, explained the impact the intercultural center will have on Utica College.
“This gift symbolizes the embodiment of community,” Baird said. “The center is a home for student growth.”
Trevor Anderson, a computer science major, addressed the capability of the Wilcox Center in welcoming commuter students. Since commuters are not allowed in residence halls, the center is able to offer a space in the residential quad for complete unity of students, he said.
Towards the end of the ceremony, President Laura Casamento announced that the estate of Francis A. Wilcox donated $2 million to the creation of an endowed scholarship, which should be available in two years.
The endowed scholarship will offer $5,000 annually for 20 students. The scholarship is slated to include 10 undergraduates, six returning and four graduate students.
“Uncle France believed education was important to success,” Kevin Keehle said. “His ideas are now a reality at Utica College.”
What is the Wilcox Center?
Nestled among the residential quad is a newly renovated building called the Francis A. Wilcox Intercultural & Student Organization Center.
Formerly known as the Newman Community Center, the building was once used for Sunday services on campus and the meeting place for faith-based events. According to a 2019 Tangerine article, the space lost frequent use after the retirement of Rev. Paul Drobin.
Utica College received $900,000 in donations towards the renovation of the Newman Community Center. The 35,000-square foot building was given several new appliances to create a student lounge and meeting space.
The Wilcox Center houses a main room with a fireplace located underneath a flat-screen television and speakers. The space also includes an outdoor patio and a fully operational kitchen for student use. Reservations will be offered for rooms in the Wilcox Center later in the fall semester.
The building doubles as an office for two members of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Division: Meghan Jordan, the DEI program manager and Anasa Sinegal, DEI communications and community relations coordinator.
Along with members from the DEI, the offices of the K. Della Ferguson Women’s Resource Center have relocated to the Wilcox Center.
Women’s Resource Center Relocation
The K. Della Ferguson Women’s Resource Center (WRC) is headed by Mark Kovacs and was previously located in the Faculty Center Basement beneath Hubbard Hall.
The WRC was established in the 1990s with the mission of empowering women through education, camaraderie and growth. The center initially was called the Womyn’s Resource Center, but the name received an update in spring 2021.
The WRC offers several resources for students. These include free menstrual health products, sexual health products and collaborations with the Health Center for free STD/STI testing.
Jaydy C. Hernandez, a criminal justice major and administrative intern at the WRC, resources are available for all students and new programs are in the works for unlearning preconceived prejudice.
“Having an actual building where we have our own office space and a lounge that is more spacious makes a very comfortable and safe place to have those tough conversations,” said Hernandez.
The WRC page on PioHub has been updated with a polished mission statement and meeting times. Interested students can stop in the Wilcox Center at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesdays to speak with other volunteers to learn more about the organization and an open house is scheduled from 2 – 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 13.
“We want to show the new space and let everyone know who we are as individuals and in a group,” Hernandez said.