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Creating Your Own WILL* Program

This initial information can help you start a WILL* program on your campus. To request additional materials or to ask questions, contact the directors.

Staffing, Resources and Curriculum

Minimum programmatic and financial requirements for establishing a WILL* program:

  • Sufficient courses in WGSS to create a minor, the academic foundation of the WILL* program. If you can’t provide a minor, can you offer a WGSS certificate? Or can another combination of courses accomplish your goals?
  • A person(s) who will administer/oversee the components of the program: WGSS curriculum, including the internship; leadership development, including the student-run organiztion; gender- and diversity-related programs outside of the classroom (these can be done very inexpensively); and community building.
  • A program budget. This can start out small and increase over time.

Things to keep in mind:  

  • You can start small and build your program over time. 
  • If you accomplish a great deal with a minimal amount of money, however, budget decision-makers might think that you do not need additional resources. Document the time and energy put into the initiative so that you can make your case for increased resources when the time comes.
  • You can work with other departments to co-sponsor programs to defray the costs of programming. Working with other departments simultaneously builds support for WILL*.
  • Create a budget line for donations, a line that will not revert at the end of the year. This is a powerful way to build both financial and program support.
  • Learn the budget cycle of your university.
  • Determine the personnel responsible for distributing and the process for obtaining university funding.
  • Find examples of successful budget requests.
  • Identify foundations and/or individuals to cultivate for financial support.
  • Use your advisory board to help facilitate this initiative (see information under advisory board).
Student Recruitment, Selection and Retention

Recruitment and Selection

At the University of Richmond, a maximum of 30 students are admitted to WILL* each year through a selection process. Most are first-year students, but we also accept transfer students and sophomores as long as they commit to the WGSS minor. 

Students have two time frames to apply: "early admission," due Aug. 1, and fall admission, due mid-October, prior to spring registration.

Items to consider:

  • Establish program standards for admission.
  • Determine number of membership spaces available based on resources and maximum class enrollments.
  • Create timeline for selection.
  • Publicize the program widely and work closely with offices representing diverse populations.
  • Incorporate faculty and staff into the selection and recruitment process.
  • Meet with academic advisors and with faculty to explain both the WILL* program and their role in the selection process, such as encouraging them to apply and/or nominating them.
  • Review applications; select and notify students.
  • Provide orientation and mentoring for new members.
  • Solicit feedback from students who chose not to apply.
  • Create and maintain a social media presence.

Retention

These procedures help retain students in the program:

  • Advise students individually.
  • Obtain regular feedback from WILL* students.
  • Involve students in all aspects of the program.
  • Organize peer mentoring.
  • Hold member retreats.
  • Monitor student participation and attendance at programs and other events.
  • Conduct exit interviews with seniors and students leaving the program.
  • Make sure course offerings are sufficient for students to complete the requirements.
  • Make sure course offerings and program topics reflect diversity.
  • Build faculty and staff support for the program.
  • Require at least two WILL*-only classes if possible, as it creates intellectual community.
Co-Curricular Ideas

Free or low-cost

  • Brown-bag lunches with faculty, staff, or leaders from local organizations with a feminist focus
  • Career talks with college/university or program alumnae
  • Film festival using campus library’s media resources

Moderate cost

  • Sponsor an evening talk featuring a local speaker
  • Attend local plays, conferences, or other events with students
  • Visit local feminist/woman-centered sites
  • Co-sponsor speakers with other departments or external organizations

High cost

  • Invite well-known speakers using a speakers’ bureau (such events often require a year of advance planning)
Student Leadership Organization

Advise students as they establish:

  • Goals and focus of the student leadership organization
  • Criteria for participation and attendance
  • A meeting schedule
  • The leadership structure within the organization
  • Meeting content
  • Opportunities for member feedback (all-member retreats, annual surveys, etc.)
  • Activism projects
Alumnae Outreach

Though alumni outreach can happen only after a program begins, it is important to plan ahead to establish and maintain contact with alumni.

  • Maintain accurate student records. Work with the registrar’s office and/or alumni office to create record keeping that identifies students in your program.
  • Hold exit interviews with seniors to get their feedback on the program and to learn ways they might be interested in connecting with it after graduation.
  • Record students’ jobs or graduate school plans in your files so you can link current and former students for internship contacts or organized career talks.
  • Develop an email list through which you can keep alumni informed of upcoming events and significant program developments.
  • Create a list of alumni interested in returning to your institution for alumnae lunches or in providing internship sites for your current students.
Advisory Board

These are your supporters — the people who believe in your program. Ideally, this group represents a cross-section of the university. You can start out small and grow over time. At the University of Richmond, WILL* started out with a group of three dedicated faculty and we now have an advisory board of 14 faculty, staff, and alumni.

There are two main reasons for having an advisory board:

  1. These "friends of the program" increase and build support for WILL* among administrators, faculty, students, and staff. It is important that they stay well informed about the program so that they can promote it based on current information.
  2. The WILL* advisory board helps the person(s) staffing the program to problem solve and strategize. When you are facing resistance to any part of the program, it is helpful to have a group of people to brainstorm about strategy and action. Also, these people can apply pressure on behalf of the program if necessary. As you start your initiative, this group of supporters can be very helpful.
Program Assessment

Define your program’s goals and objectives:

  • Develop program outcomes and how you are going to assess them.
  • Establish a database of student information for your program from the beginning.
  • Utilize data collected for other purposes to enhance your program’s database.
  • Maintain an accurate history of program implementation.
  • Involve students from the beginning.
  • Utilize combinations of qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
  • Vary the approaches and types of instruments used to gather data to prevent research fatigue.
Worksheets to Help You Plan and Strategize

Student Voices

“WILL has given me a tool kit to address whatever comes along in my life.” —Current WILL student