By Jesse Lewis
Giuseppe DeMasi/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Gov. Janet Napolitano commended the Women's Plaza of Honor on Friday morning at the plaza's dedication ceremony. The $818,000 plaza was paid for entirely in donations by community members.
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 3, 2005
Honor and support were the overwhelming themes at a ceremony Friday morning meant to celebrate the women who contributed to and are remembered in the Women's Plaza of Honor.
Organizers predicted about 400 people came out for the dedication, which featured Gov. Janet Napolitano, who spoke about the importance of honoring and appreciating women, and the Tohono O'dham singers, a mariachi band from Tucson High School.
The Women's Studies Advisory Council sponsored the $818,000 plaza, which is located next to Centennial Hall, through donations by community members.
The plaza is meant to offer a space for peace and meditation, and also a place for people to see the names of important women in the state and community, said Saundra Taylor, senior vice president of Campus Life, who spoke on behalf of President Peter Likins.
"An area once underutilized will now be frequented by the campus and Tucson community for rest and relaxation," Taylor said. "It is through your sweat ... that this has happened."
Napolitano explained her history and the history of women in Arizona. She said she is the only woman in American history to succeed a female governor.
"(The plaza gives women the opportunity to) see that history and see those who have gone before, see their names on the blocks and arches," Napolitano said.
Napolitano asked the audience to observe a moment of silence for UA women's basketball player Shawntinice Polk who died least week. Napolitano said she was spearheading a plan to have Polk memorialized in the plaza.
"In her honor, her memory, I will lead the effort to make sure she is reflected," Napolitano said.
The six female landscape architects who designed the plaza wanted to find a unifying theme for the space and decided on one that symbolizes the three stages in a woman's life: youth, maturity and reflection, said architect Karen Cesare.
Sarah Hijazi, a women's studies graduate student, said she volunteered to help out at the event because she wanted to be a part of such a large celebration of women.
"I think the plaza is beautiful, one thing I love is the more you move around, the more you discover," Hijazi said. "To discover pieces of beauty you have to search around a little, but it's a great way for people to interact with the space."
Laurel Wilkening and her husband Godfrey Sill were the largest donors to the project with $118,000, which funded the arches honoring female administrators.
The second largest donor was the Marshall Foundation, which honored Louise F. Marshall and other women significant to the state, Napolitano said.
Sam Feldman, a political science sophomore, was a part of the minority of men who attended the dedication. He said he attended because of his admiration for Gov. Napolitano and his respect for all women.
"I have a lot of respect for women. They are a big part of my life. My dad always taught me to respect women," Feldman said.