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Vol 38  No 7
December 15, 2005




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Association turns 40 years old

Celebrating WAMUN

By Jeff Green

WAMUN is well-known for its annual plant sale, held every fall for the past nine years. Here, members Elke Molgaard (left) and Mary Chalker show off some of the beautiful plants at the sale this fall. WAMUN is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.


A special organization with strong ties to the university is celebrating a significant milestone next month. The Women’s Association of Memorial University of Newfoundland (WAMUN) will mark its 40th anniversary in mid-January.

Since it formed, the group has become one of the most active members of the university community, raising money for students, becoming an advocate of Memorial’s food bank and hosting a series of popular events for its members.

According to its members, the group’s roots stretch back to 1966 when the university was going through a growth spurt. A number of young male faculty members were taking up residence at Memorial and in Newfoundland. Their wives, however, had no real support group until WAMUN formed. “With virtually no community newcomer services to welcome them, needing to ward off loneliness and homesickness, the spouses took the initiative to form their own group,” said Tonya Bassler.

“The women designated one evening a month during the academic year for their get-togethers.”

Early activities reflected the interests of its members, added long-time member Mary Chalker. “There were children’s Christmas parties, pot luck dinners, fashion shows and monthly speakers,” she said. “Very early on they organized a pre-school centre and booklets were written to help newcomers find their way around town. From the beginning there were special interest groups as varied as native embroidery, French conversation, square dancing, book discussions and bridge.”

Today the organization includes nearly 100 members from all across the university community, as well as the general public. It welcomes women associated with Memorial, including female partners of faculty and staff as well as any member of the general public who supports its goals.

The group’s service efforts include funding eight scholarships; four valued at $900 each for undergraduates and four worth $1,200 each for graduate students, $600 of which is provided by Grad Studies. The group contributes to the Campus Food Bank and holds an ever-popular plant sale each September on the St. John’s campus. Members also participate in a number of special interest groups focused on international food dinners, investment, hiking and walking. It has also formed book clubs and holds three general events each year including a reception in September, a coffee party around Christmas and an annual general meeting luncheon in the spring.

Original charter members still living in St. John’s include Valerie Bullock, Tonya Bassler, Joyce Cho, Gladys Deutsch, Elinor Eaton, Susan Jackson, Joan Scott and Margarete Smith.

WAMUN is holding a special coffee party on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006 at 10:30 a.m. in the Genesis Board Room, fourth floor, Spencer Hall. To learn more about WAMUN, visit


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