Lorraine Acker reflects on her time here at Iowa State

Caitlin Yamada

Lorraine Acker has been the director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center since May 1, 2015. Throughout her time at Iowa State, she has enjoyed working with students and has left a lasting impact on the Women’s Center.

Acker received her doctorate in higher education from Iowa State in 2017. Prior to this, she earned a Bachelor of Science in African and African American studies and political science from The College at Brockport, State University of New York. She also earned a Master of Science in college student personnel at Western Illinois University.

When Acker started as the director of the Women’s Center, there were a few things she wanted to change. First, she wanted to bring more traffic into the Sloss House.

“During my first year, a lot of people would say ‘oh I haven’t been here in a really long time’ or ‘I didn’t know this was here,’” Acker said.

Acker wanted to change this and one way was to bring in more faculty and student groups.

“We now have standing groups that come in, such as the Multicultural Liaison Officers. We’ve also had some learning communities come in,” Acker said.

Along with this, they started putting on and hosting events like Feminist Fridays.

Acker also wanted to bring in student workers to interact with the students who entered the building since all of the offices are on the second floor.

“Now as people come into the house there’s a staff presence there and students can immediately get their needs meet,” Acker said. “It shows that we’re here and if you need help we can provide it for you.”

She said the uniqueness of the Sloss house and the location are her favorite aspects of it.

“I thoroughly enjoy the hominess of the house, and my outlook at the campanile,” Acker said. “I don’t have to go very far to see what’s going on.”

On a broader Iowa State scale, Acker enjoyed working with the faculty and taking part in the activities here on campus.

“I developed some lifelong friends, and the time that I had to work with made my experience meaningful,” Acker said. “It’s hard to explain, I’ve met some really awesome people.”

Late night at the Memorial Union, the Workspace and Cyclone Cinema are some of the activities at Iowa State Acker has participated in.

“If I’m thinking about taking my son to campus, the Workspace is one of those things that come up,” Acker said.

Acker hopes the work she’s done for the Women’s Center and with students has made an impact.

“My position has allowed me to interact with some students that I never thought I would,” Acker said. “Getting to know different kinds of students that did know about the Sloss House, they now have a reason to come in.”

When asked if she wished she could change anything about her time here, she reflected on when she gained the position as the director of the Margaret Sloss Women’s Center.  

I didn’t set out to be the director of the Women’s Center, I really wanted to focus on getting my doctorate, but I really was under the radar for a few years,” Acker said. “I’m not sure if it would have made a difference if I was in the roll earlier.”

It is currently undetermined who will be filling the position.

Acker hopes the interim director will continue to support the growth of the Women’s Center.

“I really believe that the direction of the Women’s Center is heading is positive to get us on par with what other women’s centers are doing nationally, so hopefully they can add to that and support the current growth,” Acker said.

She also stated the interim director needs to continue connecting with staff on campus, especially with all of the work being done in gender equality and social justice work by the Iowa State staff.

“It will be exciting to see what happens in the next year and a half,” Acker said.

Acker will move on to be the associate vice president of Student Affairs at Bennett College in North Carolina. Bennett College is a private, historically black, all-women’s college.

“My goal was to be closer to my family,” she said. “I was not actively looking but I knew that I would be doing myself a disservice if I didn’t seek out different opportunities.”

Acker said Iowa State has been a great place to build her career and connect with diverse people, but it was time to move further in her career.

“There’s only so much further you can go, and there wasn’t really an opportunity to move up for me at Iowa State and I knew I wanted to do more and I could do more,” Acker said.

“Iowa State is a great place to be, and I will continue to recommend this place, especially for students to get an advanced degree,” Acker said. “I came here to get my doctorate and was so blessed to be able to connect with so many amazing people. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time here and it’s really going to be bittersweet.”

As her time here is coming to a close, Acker is looking forward to what the future holds.

“I’m excited about how I’m leaving the Women’s Center, it’s good to leave it on a high note,” Acker said.

A farewell event is being held from 4 to 5 p.m. Thursday in the Gallery Room of the Memorial Union.