Interview with Lorna Kaye, University League member. The contributions she, and many other women made through the University League created a lasting impact of female leaders on our campus. Their contributions to the community and student life continue to influence our University long after the University League dissolved.
1. What was your experience as a member in the University League?
I had many, varied experiences as a League member for about 20 years. I held various offices, worked in the shop, and took part in social events. I took my younger daughter with me to the shop when she was in kindergarten and she loved selling items. We had an annual lunch in the spring at a local restaurant.
2. Why did you decide to become a member of the University League?
I joined in September, 1978, when we moved to Green Bay. Harvey was on the faculty and we knew no one. I thought it would be a good way to meet other university ‘wives’. There were a few community people, but mostly it was wives, and a few female university staff members. As the University was started and staffed within a few years, there was a large cohort of faculty and staff who were the same age and going through similar life stages for quite a long time.
3. What criteria was used in deciding who received the scholarships funded by the League? Why there was a 25 (+) age limit on two of the Scholarships?
We looked over the applications and I think it was need-based, and how much difference we could make with the scholarship.
Was that a minimum 25 years old?? The student population at the time was non-traditional with many older students and returning students, especially women. We wanted to support those women.
4. What year did you join the League?
5. Did you have any partnerships with other University Organizations?
Some of our donations went to University departments but I can’t think of any partnerships as such. We ran the 2nd Gear Shop and interacted with many people. The first Chancellor’s first wife, Jean Weidner, was a social worker and very interested in our work. She had a reception at their house for League members each year. Chancellor Weidner stopped in often and bought many of his famously tacky ties. He helped us expand the original tiny triangle shaped shop to a large one in the 80s. There were various interest groups, and before my time there were storyteller groups who were very active.
6. What did you enjoy about your experience in the University League?
Feeling as though we were part of the community with the Shop and the donations we were able to make from its income. The Shop was started by Faith Sanders who drove round town from rummage sale to rummage sale to keep it stocked. The original apartments were not furnished so we had lamps, kitchen items, dishes, linens, etc., as well as clothes, books, record albums, and general items. We also took items on consignment.
7. Could you describe some of your responsibilities as Treasurer of the University League?
I had the usual duties: paying Faith and others for the cost of rummage purchases, paying people for their consignment items, and the donations to University departments. I remember we funded a (new-fangled) fax machine for the business department because they were embarrassed to tell people they didn’t have one and couldn’t receive faxes. The League also paid for the braille signs around campus, near the elevators, etc. I don’t remember if I made deposits of money from the Shop, perhaps Faith did that.
8. Was there any opposition to ending the University League or was it an overall consensus?
After Faith moved to Michigan with her husband, and other members had jobs or were getting older, it was harder to keep going. Also, the University was interested in re-acquiring the shop’s space at the busy intersection by the Garden Café. The last member directory I have is from 1995-96. Elaine Capelle, who worked in the Computer Center, was in charge for a while, and she used student volunteers in the shop. Eventually, it was decided to put the remaining funds into the Scholarship program.
9. Is there anything that you would like to us to know about the University League as we continue to research the organization?
It was an organization which was very important in the life of the University for almost 30 years but it ‘ran its course’. It’s hard to imagine a similar organization starting up today, which is sad.