History of WELC
The first conference on women in educational leadership was held at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1987. The theme for the first conference was based on the results of a survey of women administrators in K-12 and higher education settings. The survey respondents identified skills women needed to pursue careers in educational administration.
Although at one time, the entire faculty in the Department of Educational Administration at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln was male, as were the students, by 1987 a significant number of students in the leadership preparation programs were women, and the department had hired a woman faculty member, Dr. Marilyn Grady.
As the woman faculty member, Dr. Grady was challenged to provide "something" for the women students. Dr. Grady's colleagues were very supportive of the conference on women in educational leadership. With the help of faculty colleagues and graduate students, we sponsored the first conference.
The first conference was primarily a Nebraska event with University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate students as the audience and Nebraska administrators as the concurrent session speakers. Each succeeding year, we have used evaluations, research studies, or feedback from participants as the basis for subsequent conferences.
The audience for the conference has changed. The conference is no longer strictly a Nebraska phenomenon. Individuals from all 50 states and eleven countries have attended and provided presentations. Many individuals continue to return to the annual conference. In this way, an incredible network of professional associations has been established for conference attendees. These individuals have related many stories of the benefits of conference attendance.
The conference provides an excellent forum for discussion of issues related to women in educational leadership. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, we utilized Zoom as the conference platform.
Future of WELC
Dr. Grady retired from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in spring 2023, after 37 years of distinguished service and guiding more than 275 doctoral students to completion of their terminal degrees. The Department of Educational Administration (EDAD) remains committed to WELC and the important role it has played in bringing scholars, practitioners, researchers, faculty, and students together for professional learning, networking, discovery, and growth. In fall of 2023, we will briefly pause WELC while the department collaborates to plan its future. We look forward to continuing the conference legacy begun by Dr. Grady in 1987 and reconvening the conference and continuing the learning, sharing, and conversation in the future.