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Campus Pioneers: The FIrst 25 Years of Women at Gonzaga, 1948 - 1973: Lobby Display Case

Campus Pioneers: The First 25 Years of Women at Gonzaga, 1948-1973

Campus Pioneers: The First 25 Years of Women at Gonzaga, 1948-1973

In 1947, the Academic Committee for Long Time Planning, proposed and approved the admittance of female students into Gonzaga University to arrive in the Fall of 1948. Prior to this date, women were allowed to study in the areas of Education and Nursing or to attend summer classes. Now, a larger variety of undergraduate studies would be open to them. The decision to admit female students was made on the basis that Catholic education should extend as far as possible and admitting female students would allow male students to more easily find Catholic girls to marry. The committee also felt that Gonzaga had a responsibility to become coeducational, as there were few coeducational, Catholic universities in the country at the time. These newly admitted female students were referred to as co-eds and were pioneers on campus upon their arrival and for many years to come.

This exhibit aims to examine the change that the admittance of female students brought in academics, faculty, athletics, organizations, residence life, and student life on campus. In the first 25 years after their admittance, Gonzaga saw a number of changes brought about by this decision. Co-eds brought a feminine touch, that had previously been absent, as one could see from the lack of female restrooms on campus. They also provided more competition for male students in the classroom, forced change in many organizations that were previously male-only, and created a need for the construction of new dormitories.

Guest Curated by Ellen Schuster, class of 2019

“There’s Something New at Gonzaga U,” 1949.

“There’s Something New at Gonzaga U,” 1949.

This flier for prospective students was printed 1949 to highlight the big changes brought to the campus of Gonzaga with the arrival of co-eds.

Some of the First Female Co-eds to be Admitted to Gonzaga, 1948-1949.

Some of the First Female Co-eds to be Admitted to Gonzaga, 1948-1949.

Left to right: back row: Marion “Sunny” Gray, Gladys Cerenzia, Dorothy McGowan, Mary Ann Koebbe, Rita McIntyre, Elizabeth Moore, Betty Hart, Elva Johnson, Donna McMillan, Katherine Owen, Alouez Flynn, Ruth Morris. Front Row: Patricia J. Gray, Patricia J. Malone, Betty J. Wipperfurth, Marcella J. Riske, Nancy G. Schulein, Gertude Clark, Amarant Kanzler, Evelyn Jensen, Virginia Jones.

Women in Biology Lab, about 1950’s.

Women in Biology Lab, about 1950’s.

A sight such as this would not have been seen at Gonzaga prior to 1948. The admittance of women to Gonzaga allowed them to study as undergraduates in areas such as Biology and Engineering.

Female Co-eds on Steps of College Hall, 1948-1949.

Female Co-eds on Steps of College Hall, 1948-1949.

Left right: Marry Ann Koebbe, Rita McIntyre, and Marion “Sunny” Gray.

“Gonzaga Co-eds shatter 61-year tradition,” The Spokesman-Review, Jan. 13, 1952.

“Gonzaga Co-eds shatter 61-year tradition,” The Spokesman-Review, Jan. 13, 1952.

The arrival of female students on the campus of Gonzaga, made headlines in the Spokane area. This decision was considered a “bolt out of the blue”, but proved to be one with a positive and lasting impact.

Hallway in Administration Building, now College Hall, about 1953.

Hallway in Administration Building, now College Hall, about 1953.

After the admittance of female students in 1948, the halls of College Hall, then called the Administration Building, took on a new look. This photo from 1953 shows the mix of male and female students between classes.

Plans for Madonna Hall, about 1953.

Plans for Madonna Hall, about 1953.

The admittance of female students in co-eds in 1948 would quickly create the need for a new dormitory. Madonna Hall, built in 1954, was the first all-female dormitory to be built on campus. Prior to the construction, co-eds lived in Crimont, a house donated by Father Dunne’s family.