A new installation on campus will celebrate the history and the accomplishments of women from Georgia Tech.
This spring, construction will begin on an installation in the center of campus that celebrates the history of women at Georgia Tech, including staff, faculty, and alumnae. It honors women’s accomplishments and contributions to the Institute and to a wide range of fields in which they have made an impact. It will also allow space for reflection.
The project is made possible by the philanthropic generosity of Andrea Laliberte, IE 1982, M.S. IE 1984. When she was on Georgia Tech’s campus in the late 1970s and early ’80s studying industrial engineering, women had been allowed admission as full-time undergraduates for less than three decades and accounted for less than 20% of the student population.
She returned to campus in 2013 and spent five years as the Edenfield Executive-in-Residence in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering. During this time, she served on several Georgia Tech boards and was chair of the Alumni Association in 2016-17.
“I met so many accomplished people — from astronauts to Olympians to CEOs — but what really struck me was how many impressive alumnae we have,” she said. “Their stories are amazing.”
What also struck her was a lack of awareness or any visible campus recognition of the history of Georgia Tech women. She came up with the idea of telling their stories in a public, visually compelling way through a transformative structure in the heart of campus near the John Lewis Student Center.
A committee of alumni, faculty, administrators, and students was assembled to determine criteria and evaluate submissions for honorees. The group is currently in the process of finalizing the inaugural class of 70 women, with a goal of recognizing two to three women each year.
The design process included input from faculty, staff, and students. It was brought to life by Merica May Jensen, MGT 2008, M. ARCH 2011, the lead project designer and a partner at obj, a New York City design firm. As she described it, “The proposal works with transformation, reflection, mosaics, networks, and tension to create a piece that highlights both the individual and the movement. The evolving structure expresses collectivity, journey, and celebration.”
"The proposal works with transformation, reflection, mosaics, networks, and tension to create a piece that highlights both the individual and the movement. The evolving structure expresses collectivity, journey, and celebration."
– Merica May Jensen, MGT 2008, M. ARCH 2011
The design has three components. The ground level centers on history and highlights what women — including faculty and staff members such as Dorothy Crosland, the Georgia Tech librarian who began in 1927, rose through the ranks to director, and retired in 1971 — have done while at Tech. It will include a table and seats for gathering and reflecting.
The next piece celebrates the accomplishments of women who graduated from Georgia Tech. It moves off of the ground and extends upward, with hundreds of honeycomb or hexagonal shapes, each telling one woman’s story — a collective constellation across the campus treeline.
The final piece rises into the air until it reaches the upper corner of the John Lewis Student Center, with a canopy of reflective fabric that invites visitors to contemplate their own future, and the future of women at Tech and beyond. In Jensen’s words, “Poetic snippets of history, faculty and staff, communities, events, and alumnae stories are embedded in the physical work. A complementary explorative website provides each fragment’s deeper story and highlights connections within the mosaic.” The website will launch concurrently with the official dedication event in the fall.
President Ángel Cabrera shares Laliberte’s enthusiasm for the project.
"Women from Georgia Tech have overcome challenges and succeeded across disciplines and professions, making an indelible impact on the Institute, our state, our nation, and the world,” he said. “This installation tells their stories — offering examples of courage, talent, and resilience for today’s Tech students, and for future generations of Tech students. We are grateful to Andrea Laliberte for sharing her vision and generosity in making this commemoration a permanent part of the campus."
To read more about women at Tech, check out these features:
Written by: Stacy Braukman
Design by: Julie Watson
Renderings courtesy of obj