Since 1903, The Woman's Board of Westminster College has been supporting the success and well being of Westminster students. The board has grown from 11 original members to more than 70 today, and to date, this dedicated group of women has raised nearly $1 million in scholarship aid for deserving students.
In 1916, The Woman's Board hosted its first fundraiser, the Silver Tea. The 100th Anniversary Silver Tea was held on May 14, 2016.
History of the Woman's Board
Compiled by Mrs. Sandra Morgan, first lady of Westminster College
Colonel William M. Ferry organized a woman's board for Sheldon Jackson College in Salt Lake City (the name was later changed to Westminster College in 1902). His wife, Jeannette, convinced him to donate land to the college and establish a board of women to oversee a building that was dedicated to educating women. In a letter dated February 17, 1902, William Ferry donated 26 acres of land on 1300 East to Westminster College, stipulating that, "a portion of ground, not to exceed five acres, be set aside as a site for a Woman's College building, to be erected by women…" He then appointed a Woman's Board of 11 women, listing his wife as president, to manage this building.
The first Woman's Board meeting was held on March 21, 1903. Minutes from the meeting—and every meeting thereafter—were kept in a leather-bound book that resides in the archives of Westminster's Giovale Library. The board's main focus was to raise money to build the Woman's Building.
The board voted on October 9, 1914, to enlarge its membership when it deemed necessary. On October 11, 1916, the First Constitution of the Woman's Board was adopted. The Woman's Board expanded their efforts in subsequent years and took on the project of a Domestic Science Department in 1915. They hosted the first Silver Tea in May of 1916 to help raise funds for the college.
100 Years of Silver Tea
On May 10, 1916, each of the 25 women on the board was instructed to invite 10 people to a Silver Tea to be held at the home of a member of the board. The board raised $32.80.
Though by modern standards a $33 profit is hardly something to brag about, the Silver Tea quickly became the board's most popular—and successful—event. In the following years, the tea grew to also include an apron sale.
It was a hit. Each apron was handmade, and the women began making 350–400 aprons a year—all of which fit the current fashion.
Each May, attendance at the tea and apron sale grew, and the Woman's Board soon found itself able to give more back to the college. Gone were the days of simply maintaining Ferry Hall. Now, the Woman's Board was one of the largest sources of fundraising for Westminster.
Before long, the annual Silver Tea became a tradition for women of all ages. "The tea has been so successful because it's become a tradition for a lot of people: the more people who are aware of it, the bigger it gets," says Randi Morgan, an associate member of the board and President Steve Morgan's niece. "Last year, I had 15 women and girls in my family there. It's a fun opportunity to get together as the girls for something different and unique, and it happens to serve a good cause."
In the 100 years since its inception, the Silver Tea has taken many different forms but has always included delicious food and hot tea fit for an English tea room.
In the 1970s, following the women's movement away from traditional roles, the tea morphed from an apron sale to what was affectionately called Grandma's Attic, a boutique and rummage sale—with a spot of tea, of course. One year, the board even hosted a booth, cleverly entitled Plant Parenthood, where attendees could browse indoor and outdoor plants ready for adoption.
A 1979 clipping of a Salt Lake Tribune article in the college archives describes the draw of Grandma's Attic: "Grandma's Attic traditionally had been a place for ‘can't bear to part with and someone in the family might want it' items," the article states. "It can be a place to spend fascinating hours looking at and examining treasures."
By the 1980s, Grandma's Attic at the tea was drawing hundreds of attendees and raising over $10,000 each year. Its success only continued to grow, even as the college was in the midst of a financial crisis.
In the 1990s, the tea changed its theme again: going global. Organized by Noreen Rouillard, a long-standing member of the board, the women hel a World Bazaar and Tea that featured handcrafted gifts from around the world. The sale of the gifts supported the work of the Woman's Board and artisans in refugee camps and developing nations.
The event brings together women of all ages who look forward to the Silver Tea every year. "My favorite memory is the year I took my grandmother [President Morgan's mother] to the tea, just us two," Randi Morgan says. "She loved it. I took my niece to the last one—she had just turned three. She got on tea-party steroids. She was excited to wear her hat and bring her purse and lipstick and get all dressed up to go to a tea party."
Though its form has changed with the times, the purpose behind the Silver Tea has remained constant: to help the students of Westminster.
Read more about the history of the Silver Tea and The Woman's Board in the Westminster Review.
The mission of the Woman's Board is to interest the general public in the college, to cooperate with the president and the Board of Trustees in promoting the welfare of both the students and the institution, and to raise funds to aid students with their education.
The Board shall be composed of women who are in sympathy with the mission of the Board and are willing to volunteer their time and talents to accomplish that mission. Categories of membership are active, associate, member of honor, and member of distinction.
The Board will hold a minimum of eight meetings each academic year from September through May on the fourth Wednesday of each month. There will be no regular meeting in December.
What is the time commitment?
The Woman's Board holds eight one- to two-hour meetings each academic year. The meetings are held on the fourth Wednesday of each month (with the exception of December, when there is no meeting) at 10:00 am.
What will my board membership entail?
Members of the Woman's Board focus their efforts on raising scholarship money for Westminster students. There are several sub-committees within the board that members can choose to participate in. These committees range from being a part of the scholarship applicant selection process to marketing and helping publicize events to event planning.
How involved will I be with Westminster College students?
Because the Woman's Board focuses on awarding scholarships and raising money for these awards, its members have the opportunity to meet and interact with the students who receive the awards. This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being on the Woman's Board, and has enabled the establishment of many long-lasting relationships.
Do I have to be a Westminster College alumna to join?
No. As long as you have a desire to help students afford education, you will fit in perfectly.
How many events are held each year?
Two. The Woman's Board hosts a fundraising holiday party each year. This event is a smaller, more intimate engagement. Our largest event is the Silver Tea, held each year in May. This event takes a lot of planning, and most of your time on the board will be centered on making the Silver Tea a success for raising scholarship money for Westminster students.
How would you describe the ideal candidate for the Woman's Board?
The Woman's Board is comprised of women from all walks of life. Each member brings their own unique experiences and skill sets to the table. The ideal candidate is a woman who believes in the value of higher education, and wants to help students achieve their goals of attending college through providing scholarship opportunities. The board has a variety of areas in which your talents will be put to use. There is a place for your expertise whether you can donate graphic design or web skills to PR or marketing to knowing how to host the perfect party.
Contact Kaye Stackpole in the Office of Advancement at (801)832-2735 if you'd like more information about joining The Woman's Board.