Celebrating the Woman's College

June 1, 2002

 

 

When the Woman's College merged with Trinity College of Arts and Sciences in 1972, many of its alumnae, and students felt a bit disenfranchised. Where was the sense of closure to an institution that graduated its first class in 1930, the final recognition of an experience that produced an impressive group of scholars and leaders?

That time will come November 8-10 with a special weekend designed "to recreate, celebrate, and recognize the Woman's College as a separate institution of the university, with a beginning and an end," says Mary Maddry Strauss '60, coordinator of a three-day reunion, titled "The Woman's College, 1930-1972: A Legacy of Excellence and Leadership" and sponsored by the Duke Alumni Association. "We see this as a chance to reconnect," she says. "Woman's College alumnae are recognized leaders across the country. We want to celebrate these people and the contributions of all women in the Woman's College.

"We had opportunities that a co-ed would not have had: positions of leadership, our own judiciary board, dorm house councils, the Y. There was a hierarchy of leaders and a structure that used and honed their skills. The Woman's College prepared women to take their place in society--and in history. It helped us develop a social consciousness of what we could do in and for our communities. This will be a coming together to share and celebrate the opportunities Duke University gave us in the Woman's College and the time it existed."

All women who were ever admitted, even in 1972, are invited--a list that numbers approximately 9,500. The weekend begins at noon on Friday. There will be valet parking on East Campus, says Strauss. Each decade will be highlighted in a special video presentation created by Penelope Maunsell '74 from archival material and interviews.

Saturday's plenary session will feature a panel discussion with Margaret Taylor Smith '47 and Carol Murray Happer '60, Ph.D. '85, among others to be announced. Happer, a professor at Meredith College, is organizing a decade-by-decade historical display that will remain through December at Perkins Library. During the rest of the day, there will be three seminars, including a session with Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke '67, a Duke trustee emerita, on integration. Alumnae can gather with their dorm mates or sorority sisters for a luncheon in the East Union. An evening event will feature an interpretive performance by Barbara Albers Rinella '65. For services at Duke Chapel, which follows brunch on Sunday, all alumnae who ever sung in the Chapel Choir are being invited to sing.