Share your story. makingourmark@union.edu

Old photos of some of Union's first women students
Making our Mark Logo

A timeline of women at Union

The 50th anniversary of women’s arrival at Union features a year-long celebration of women and their contributions to the College, their communities and the world.

Getting here

Getting here

Union College was transformed in the fall of 1970 with the arrival of women as full-time students.

But the journey to coeducation took decades. Here are some highlights.

  • 1922 – Florence Fogler, a GE employee with a B.S. from MIT, was permitted to take graduate courses in electrical engineering but not enroll as a degree candidate.
  • 1925 – Florence Fogler Buckland completes master’s degree requirements.
  • 1928 – The trustees permit women to complete graduate degrees.
  • 1947 – Grace Jorgensen, a “night school girl,” writes an article in Concordiensis urging coeducation. Editors said they had solicited the article which “represents her personal opinion which otherwise would not have been made public.” (Later, Dr. Jorgensen, a prominent obstetrician, delivered more than 7,000 babies and served as director of Bellevue Women’s Hospital in Schenectady.)
  • 1952 – Ruth Anne Evans is the first woman faculty member, joining the College library with faculty status but not rank. She would become Union’s first female full professor in 1973.
  • 1955 – Barbara Rotundo, a faculty widow, is appointed to fill a part-time temporary position in English.
  • 1958 – Sally Brown Van Schaick earned enough night school credits to become the first woman to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • 1963 – Union’s Committee on Coeducation recommends bringing in “a limited number” of women (20-30 per class at first). The College does not act.
  • 1965 – Nanette Funk joins Philosophy, the first woman to hold a regular teaching appointment
  • Late 1960s – A handful of women are appointed to faculty. They include Mira Wilkins (Economics and History), Ruth Parker (Philosophy) and Jocelyn Harvey (English).
  • 1967 – A faculty committee recommends the College become coeducational.
  • 1968 – President Harold Martin appoints an ad hoc committee, headed by Prof. Carl Niemeyer of English, to study the question. The committee recommends coeducation followed by a faculty vote in favor, with one member dissenting.
  • 1969-9 – In a survey of 2,513 alumni, 60 percent favor coeducation, 32 percent oppose.
  • 1969 – The Board of Trustees votes to add 100 women per class over four years, bringing enrollment from 1,600 to 2,000.
  • 1970 – Katherine M. Stout ’74, described in College literature as “a top 10 percent scholar, track star, basketball player, sailplane pilot, musician and girl,” is the first of 484 female applicants accepted.
  • 1970 – 126 women arrive on campus
  • 1974 – President Harold Martin reports to the trustees, “in ways too numerous to mention, the presence of women at the College has enhanced every aspect of undergraduate life.”

(Source: Encyclopedia of Union College History, Wayne Somers, ed.; “Women at Union,” pp. 795-798, by Faye Dudden.)