Beneath Thy Guiding Hand: A History of Women at the University of Delaware – Chapter 5
Chapter 5: Co-Education
It was symptomatic of the times that the University of Delaware Student Association’s first major post-war initiative was a highly successful lecture series on the topic of marriage. The series, held in Mitchell Hall in the spring of 1946, featured physicians, sociologists, and psychologists who addressed such themes as "Problems of Dating and Courtship" and "Personality Adjustments in Marriage." Fueled by release from wartime demands and supported by molders of popular culture and merchandisers, marriage seemed to be on everyone’s mind. In 1946, the marriage rate among Americans reached an all-time high, soon followed by that now-famous demographic phenomenon, the Baby Boom. Fears that women would resist being displaced from their wartime jobs and that the returning veterans would be unable to find work influenced much public discourse in the immediate post-war period. Psychologists and magazine journalists promoted the belief that marriage provided an exclusive and all-embracing route to female self-fulfillment, and they warned that those women who insisted on pursuing careers, whether married or single, were doomed to neurosis, frustration, and a loss of femininity.
The issue of a perceived conflict between marriage and career was one with which college women of the 1940s have contended throughout their lives. Among the cohort of women who attended the University of Delaware in the late 1940s, a few planned to pursue jobs, but only for a brief period, and most gave up outside work when they married, or when their first child was born. The University’s director of career planning reported his frustrations in dealing with the "girls" in the 1946 graduating class. Many of them, he said, had applied for assistance in finding jobs, but as graduation day approached, they got engaged and withdrew their requests. Employers were having so much trouble retaining women employees, the director said, "that they are not very enthusiastic about employing girls who expect to marry soon."1
The director’s experience was part of a nationwide phenomenon. The job editor of Glamour magazine contacted the University of Delaware’s dean of women, Gwendolyn S. Crawford, in February 1946 to inquire about the aspirations of the University’s women. Glamour’s survey of a number of colleges and universities, including Delaware, revealed that, throughout America, women graduating from college were either marrying and becoming full-time homemakers, or postponing marriage briefly to seek short-term, dead-end jobs until they could find the right mate.2 Finding a husband was no great problem for the women students at the University of Delaware, for they were suddenly surrounded by a host of veterans who attended the University tuition-free under the G.I. Bill of Rights. More mature than the typical male students of that time, the veterans were eager to acquire an education and to get on with their lives as quickly as possible. The "Joe College" lifestyle held no charm for them, but marriage was in the plans of nearly all of them. "We drew pretty mental pictures of good jobs and a cozy home with a sweet, little girl in gingham waiting at the white picket gate," a veteran student told The Blue Hen yearbook editor.3
Co-education did not change the pattern of women’s academic pursuits. After the anxieties and loneliness of the war years, most college women across the country seized upon the opportunity to play the role of the girl in gingham. In the post-war years, the declining proportion of women entering the professions, which had first been observed in the 1920s, fell yet again. "Women workers," historian William Chafe has written, "sought jobs, not careers-an extra paycheck for the family rather than a reputation as a success in business or the professions."4 The intense anti-communism of the times reinforced the concept that linked the stay-at-home mother to American ideals and discouraged as "socialist" the idea of working mothers and day-care centers.5
The prevailing attitudes raised doubts about the utility of college education for women. Lynn White, Jr., president of Mills College, an all-female institution in California, attracted widespread support for his view that the entire collegiate curriculum should be restructured to meet women’s essentially non-professional educational needs and to glorify women’s roles as homemakers.6 Those concepts and social forces were powerfully felt at the University of Delaware. After years of urging the University’s home economics majors to undertake careers as dietitians, nursery-school teachers, or department-store buyers, the University’s home economists now proudly advertised the fact that ninty percent of their students married shortly after graduation and focused their college training on their individual homes and families. The Blue Hen yearbook noted this fact and commented that "homemaking can be the most satisfying and challenging of the professions."7
Since few women students planned to undertake long-term careers, vocational aspirations played a smaller role in the women’s choice of majors than was true for most male students. Yet, although most women students believed themselves to have the luxury of selecting a major on the basis of interest alone, their choices were narrowly defined. At the University of Delaware, as elsewhere, both utility and intellectual interest led women into the same disciplines that had been available to them in the Women’s College. Occasionally, interest might lead a woman student into an all-male field, such as engineering, but sex stereotyping was so pervasive a part of the business world that women knew they could not compete successfully in male-oriented vocations. The first woman to major in engineering at the University of Delaware, Frances Cummings, a chemical engineering major in the class of 1946, later regretted that she had not chosen to study home economics. It was not that the University’s engineers were unkind to her, but she felt she did not belong in the discipline and did not develop sufficient confidence to use her professional training after graduation.8
At Delaware, the post-war era was shaped by a particularly strong-willed University president. After a succession of brief presidencies following on the death of Walter Hullihen in 1944, the University, in 1950, hired a new president who was destined to shape significantly the development of the University of Delaware during the expansive decades of the 1950s and 1960s. John Alanson Perkins was only thirty-six years old when he came to Delaware from the University of Michigan, where he had earned a Ph.D. in political science and had begun a career that combined university administration with public service. From his arrival in 1950 until his resignation in 1967, Perkins was a conspicuously dominant force at the University. Hard-driving and autocratic, he exercised personal control over every aspect of the University’s life, particularly in the area of faculty development. John Munroe, a most even-handed historian who knew Perkins well, described him in his history of the University as "a vigorous, strong young man with tremendous willpower and with a temper he could not always restrain. Very ambitious for the University," Munroe added, he was determined to raise its standing in the academic world."9
The Perkins era was one of dramatic growth. The 1950s and 1960s were years of population explosion throughout the United States, and particularly in Delaware, which became one of the nation’s fastest-growing states. During the decade of the 1950s alone, the number of people in Delaware grew by forty percent, and the greater part of this increase was among middle-class children destined to attend college. Perkins’ presidency corresponded with an increase in total student enrollment, from 1,722 in 1950 to 9,567 in 1967-68. Graduate studies, which accounted for a mere handful of students and programs in 1950, enrolled over 2,000 students during his final year as president. The unprecedented growth in student numbers was matched by an increase in the size of faculty, from 204 to 380, and by a great expansion of the University’s physical plant. The president attracted several large additions to the University’s endowment and ably represented the University’s interests in the state legislature and with state officials.
He was less successful, however, in his dealings with faculty and students. His relationship with women as students, faculty, and administrators was particularly troublesome and frustrating for both sides. In part, those difficulties were a reflection of the times, but in some measure, they grew out of Perkins’ own personality and his concept of what constituted progress at the University. Professor DeArmond, who began her career at the Women’s College and was one of the University’s distinguished teachers, has described Perkins as "ferociously anti-feminist" and "contemptuous of all those women left over from the Women’s College."10 Her perception of the president was shared by many women faculty who watched as the University hired scores of male faculty annually, while virtually no female faculty members were added, except occasionally in a women’s field like home economics. As faculty from the Women’s College retired from their positions women faculty members declined in absolute numbers. The women who remained resentfully complained that their salaries were kept low and their promotions were slow to come, compared to those of no-better-qualified male colleagues. Among those who experienced discriminatory treatment was Professor Evelyn H. Clift, an inspiring teacher, who for many years taught a full load of courses in both classical languages and history, but was denied extra pay or promotion to the rank of full professor until very late in her career. Those few women who were hired to teach at the University were often on part-time contracts or non-tenure lines, and, since President Perkins forbade the practice of hiring more than one member of a family, faculty wives were excluded from employment at the University.
To some degree, the president’s unfavorable attitude toward women faculty harkened back to the debate in the 1930s and early 1940s over retention of the Women’s College and its separate faculty. All the arguments made by Dean Robinson, the principal champion of the coordinate model, had stressed a commitment to teaching over research. Since John Perkins wished to reverse that emphasis, he had little appreciation for the qualities of teaching that had won women places on the Women’s College faculty. That so many women faculty came to feel that the president had contempt for their contributions to the University was, however, also a response to the ungracious, grudging, and intimidating manner that Perkins employed in dealing with all faculty. Faculty women, reared in the lady-like politeness and civility of the early twentieth century, particularly resented the president’s graceless behavior, and were ill-equipped to counter it.
Co-education brought virtually no change in the discipline that governed the residential life of women students. Even by the standards of its time, the Perkins administration was unusually conservative, indeed repressive, in its approach to student discipline. The president firmly subscribed to the concept of in loco parentis and did not hesitate to limit student behavior and expression to conform to his notion of an orderly campus. Regulations that restricted the lives of women students far more than those of men remained in effect. Lady-like decorum concerning dress, deportment, and personal security were at the heart of a system that had changed little since the days of the Women’s College. Student problems were routinely solved by creating and enforcing new rules. For example, when someone complained that women students were leaning out the windows of their residence halls to talk to people on the sidewalk, a rule was enacted forbidding the women to speak to anyone through the windows. When Newark residents complained about congestion from student-driven cars, a rule was put into force to prevent non-commuting students from driving cars either on campus or in the town. The automobile rule extended even to students home for the weekend who might wish to drive their parents’ cars into Newark to shop on a Saturday afternoon. Failure to comply with University rules could lead to severe penalties, including expulsion.
The person charged with maintaining order among the students was John E. Hocutt, whom President Perkins hired in 1952 to fill the newly created position of dean of students. Dean Hocutt’s arrival on campus coincided with a vacancy in the post of dean of women, a position now essentially that of a subordinate. Hocutt chose Bessie B. Collins, formerly an assistant dean of women at the University of Pennsylvania, to fill the newly defined post.
Dean Collins exemplified the Perkins administration’s attitudes for toward women. Mannerly, earnest, and kind, she was concerned for the welfare of women students academically, socially, and professionally, and she earned the affection and respect of a generation of women students. She was, however, unsure of her abilities, which made her willing to accept the orders and priorities set by her two male superiors as well as their patronizing attitude toward her. Miss Collins’ subordinate position as dean of women was in sharp contrast to the role that Deans Robinson and Golder had once held as head of one of the University’s two colleges. The period of Miss Collins’ deanship marked the nadir of women’s influence within the University’s administration, not because she lacked zeal, but because the concepts of women’s autonomy and educational purpose were so weak.
The primary domain of the dean of women was south campus, where the women were located in the residence halls that had once been part of the Women’s College. The atmosphere of regimented order so dear to President Perkins’ heart was nowhere achieved more effortlessly or completely than on the south campus during the decade of the 1950s and into the early years of the 1960s. Many of the rules that governed student behavior had precedents in the Women’s College of a quarter century before. Students going out for the evening were required to record their destination and time of return in a sign-out book, and on weeknights, the big, colonial-style front doors of the residence halls were locked shut at ten o’clock. Rules regulated the apparel that women students wore to class, in the dining halls, and on the streets of Newark. Late-night privileges on weekends were doled out and monitored by watchful housemothers. Those rules and regulations were administered by students elected from each residence hall to serve on a judicial board under Dean Collins’ supervision.
Together with the restrictions that ruled their lives, the University’s women students inherited a number of traditions from the Women’s College, to which new traditions were added, in an effort to maintain an intimate, cohesive community spirit. For instance, May Day continued to be celebrated with the annual crowning of the queen, the May Pole Dance, and gymnastic demonstrations, until a combination of declining student interest and the retirement of the program’s creator, Professor Hartshorn, ended the yearly ritual in 1962. Moving Up Day also was perpetuated, although without the academic regalia of Dean Robinson’s time. A big event for sophomores was the arrival of their class blazers, ordered in either blue or white wool which carried a distinctive class seal with a University of Delaware motif on the breast pocket. Those blazers, worn with a blouse and skirt, constituted the most common garb among women students. Another tradition that continued was the Big Sister-Little Sister relationship, in which junior women, recruited by the dean of women, served as big sisters to freshmen.
Residence halls were at the center of many traditions. The students in each residence hall invited faculty and parents to formal teas, where each hall’s formal tea service was put to use. In the fall, the students in each residence hall marched en masse to evening pepfests held on the steps of Old College the night before every football game. Also during the football season, residence halls were the focal points for weekly, outdoor decoration displays, usually featuring a large Blue Hen, made from chicken wire, stuffed with colored crepe paper, devouring or otherwise destroying the mascot of the opposing team-often a far more formidable animal than even the most fearsome chicken. The competition for the ultimate chicken-wire extravaganza came on Homecoming Day, when the fraternities and residence halls built displays that were mounted on flatbed trucks and paraded around the football field during the halftime ceremony of crowning the Homecoming queen. At Christmas, the students on each floor in every residence hall participated in the annual peanut sisters, or "secret Santa," gift-giving swap. During the winter months, the women’s residence halls took part in another creative competition, the annual Playbill, held in Mitchell Hall, in which each hall presented an original, satirical theatrical skit, often based upon some campus theme.
Those women’s campus activities complemented the continuing interactions of the men and women students at fraternity parties, Interest-group activities, and campus-wide dances. Nothing typified campus life during the 1950s more than "pinnings," which took place occasionally on weeknights. The members of a fraternity would accompany their brother to the front of the women’s residence hall where his girlfriend lived and would serenade the couple. As the female residents watched from windows, the brother would affix his fraternity pin on his girlfriend’s blouse, directly over the left breast. To be "pinned" was a step between wearing a boy’s ring and being engaged. On other occasions, fraternity men would descend on women’s residence halls, usually after they had been drinking, to attempt a panty raid. These forays were inevitably broken up by the prompt arrival of Dean Hocutt, looking his most intimidating, and at whose appearance, order was quickly restored.
When the Women’s College had been absorbed into the University, the college’s faculty had anticipated and feared that women students would lose opportunities for campus leadership. The co-education experience justified these fears. In the post-war years, an informal formula developed by which men were elected to class presidencies and to the presidency of the campus-wide Student Government Association (S.G.A.), women were elected to vice presidencies and to the position of secretary, and men filled the post of treasurer. In 1957, the pattern was briefly interrupted when a woman was elected S.G.A. president. Her victory was attributed to an argument among the fraternities that normally controlled the outcome. Women were indeed chosen to lead many special-interest clubs on campus, but, almost always, their leadership was in areas where men chose not to compete.
In time, two new all-female organizations were created that restored some opportunities for women students to gain recognition and develop leadership. Tassel, an all-female honorary society, was introduced at the University in the early 1950s. Each spring, a small number of outstanding women from the junior class were awakened at dawn to be "tapped for Tassel." Chosen on the basis of their scholarship, leadership, and commitment to service, the Tassel inductees gained valuable experience in the management of a service-oriented society. In 1960, Tassel was invited to become part of Mortar Board, the national honorary society for women, which later became co-educational under the mandate of the Civil Rights Act.
Another important innovation was the creation in the early 1960s of the Association of Women Students (A.W.S.), which included all women students. In many ways, A.W.S.’s purpose paralleled that of the Student Government Association, to which it sent representatives. The A.W.S. spoke specifically for women in a system that persisted in treating them differently from men. Organized into committees that had representatives in each women’s residence hall, the Association of Women Students was dedicated to the goals of encouraging scholarship and personal growth and to promoting leadership roles for women. Although by the middle or late 1960s A.W.S. had developed a reputation for busy work, it did give women students a sounding board when they began demanding change in their rule-ridden lives.
Despite their docility, John A. Perkins was dissatisfied with the women students of the late 1950s. He developed the idea that the University of Delaware was preparing what he called "corner post citizens" who would become community leaders. Yet, too many women students appeared reluctant to assume leadership. President Perkins was distressed that so few young women in Delaware chose to attend college, and he was discouraged by the low academic motivation and lack of career ambition displayed by those women who did enter the University. As late as 1956, the ratio of male to female students was a disappointing two to one. By the early 1960s, the ratio of male to female students was approaching equality, but the president was still disturbed to note that, while the University’ academic programs in the fields of science and technology had earned national reputations for excellence, few women students took advantage of these programs. "From elementary school on, unfortunately," the president wrote, "girls are conditioned against distributing themselves over the whole spectrum of collegiate studies and related professions often in disregard of natural aptitude and ability."11
Women students flocked to some disciplines and avoided others. The vast majority of them were preparing to become school teachers, about half in the elementary grades, the others in various high-school disciplines, especially home economics, English, social studies, and the arts. The demand for school teachers was insatiable during the era of the Baby Boom, and ease in finding employment was a major factor in deciding women’s choice of careers. But President Perkins was dismayed to note that few women aspired to become scientists or even to become science teachers. Statistics on the graduating class of 1962 reveal the gender division among the University’s pre-professional disciplines. In that year, 100 percent of the students who received degrees in home economics and nintyeight percent of those in elementary education were female. By contrast, business and engineering produced only one woman major each,12 and only seven of the 231 students in the College of Agricultural Sciences were women.13 A major factor in the lopsided distribution pattern lay in women’s seeming aversion to mathematics and science-a factor that had a negative impact not only on their enrollment in traditionally male disciplines but also in nursing and those aspects of home economics that required a scientific background.
In 1960, in an effort to reverse this waste of women’s educational potential, President Perkins appointed an Advisory Committee on the Education of Women, chaired by Professor Dyer, a veteran of the Women’s College and an active research chemist. The committee, consisting of faculty, administrators, and students, was charged "to stimulate the thinking of undergraduate women regarding their professional plans."14
The creation of the Advisory Committee on the Education of Women came at a propitious moment, for the year 1960 was one of incipient change in American society. John E Kennedy captured the public mood of restlessness and growing aversion to post-war complacency in his successful campaign for the presidency of the United States. In September of that year, an article entitled "A Proposition for Women," by Marion K. Sanders, appeared in Harpers’ Magazine. Sanders argued that too many American women were wasting their lives in the "circular puttering" and "redundant housewifery" associated with unending rounds of shopping, tidying, and grooming, while they ignored the national need for career professionals in the traditionally female-dominated areas of health care, social work, and education. The author’s plea, which pre-dated Betty Friedan’s bestseller, The Feminine Mystique by three years, called on women to emancipate themselves from their narrow suburban cocoons, return to school, and prepare to pursue meaningful work outside the home.15 A few months later, at his inauguration, President Kennedy challenged the nation with the stirring phrase, "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." A growing shift in public opinion supported the view that important jobs that women might successfully fill were going begging.
The Harpers’ article pointed the Dyer Committee toward a group of potential students who had been largely ignored: returning adult students. In 1963, Professor Dyer appointed a subcommittee chaired by Dean Collins to consider how the University might best respond to the needs of such a group. The following year, the sub-committee distributed a questionnaire to approximately 900 women aged twenty-five years and older who were, or had recently been, enrolled in the University’s graduate or undergraduate programs, including those enrolled in non-degree University extension courses in night school. Responses to the questionnaire reflected the growing desire of women to seek careers: many to supplement their family’s income and to find the personal satisfaction that a career might bring; others to become primary breadwinners after divorce or the death of a spouse. The Dyer Committee had uncovered an urgent social need to which the University of Delaware might respond. The committee recognized and publicized the fact that an increasing number of women were returning to college to complete degree programs they had abandoned to marry. The survey also revealed that twenty-eight percent of the more than 2,600 women enrolled at the University in the fall of 1962 were twenty-five or older.16 The co-educational model based exclusively on students in the eighteen-to-twenty-one age bracket no longer reflected changing social realities.
In the 1960s, the end of the Baby Boom brought other social changes that affected university women. Early in the decade, the demand for school teachers remained very high. In 1960, it was reported that there were fifteen teaching jobs for every qualified applicant,17 but, by 1964, the declining birth rates of the late 1950s began to reduce that demand. That meant that greater numbers of women were seeking to enter the workforce at a time when the most common source of employment for college-educated women was shrinking. As that situation pushed career-seeking women to explore non-traditional options, the obstacles that confronted women in the workforce attracted more attention. Consider, for example, a report presented to the University’s Board of Trustees in 1960 concerning the salary offers made to baccalaureate graduates that year. The median monthly salary for those who entered the field of home economics was $357, while that for chemical engineers was $525. Even more telling was the fact that male graduates of the University’s business program earned $464, compared to $330 for female graduates of that same program. The beginning salary for school teachers was $342, calculated on a twelve-month basis. Faculty were not necessarily supportive of women’s aspirations to go beyond low-paying stereotypical career paths. A member of the class of 1968 recalls an accounting professor who actively discouraged a very capable woman student by saying she was taking a seat in his class that should be occupied by a male, since a man would use accounting in his career, whereas a woman would not.18
It is significant to note that, in the same year in which President Perkins created the Advisory Committee on the Education of Women, he told the trustees of his difficulty in meeting the rapidly growing University’s need for faculty due to "the present incredible shortage of competent men available for University positions." The president, like many who considered themselves thoughtful and forward-looking people, had grasped one aspect of the women’s career dilemma, but could not see the whole picture. As women entered into a new era of aspirations and self-awareness, they moved beyond the more limited goals that President Perkins had in mind when he created the Advisory Committee on the Education of Women. Yet, Perkins was an agent of change who assisted in starting a process of renewal that transcended his initial vision.
By the 1960s, the Baby Boom generation had moved from the elementary schools and high schools into the colleges and universities. Enrollments at the University of Delaware accelerated more rapidly than at any other time in the University’s history. From an enrollment of about 2,000 during the post-war decade, the number of undergraduate students grew to 3,600 in 1961-62 and reached 6,500 by 1967-68.19 The faculty was growing rapidly as well. In 1965, the University employed 346 full-time faculty, an increase of forty-six new positions over the previous year. By 1968, there were 434 full-time faculty, many of them young and newly acquainted with the University of Delaware.
At first, the University attempted to deal with the student upsurge without changing its fundamental residential policies. In fact, the percentage of resident students on campus actually rose from fifty percent to sixty-four percent during the period from 1950, when the last of the veterans were completing their degrees, through 1965.20 During that period, new residence halls were constantly under construction to keep abreast of the demand. On the former campus of the Women’s College, three new buildings-Cannon, Kent, and Squire halls-arose during the 1950s to complete the line of residence halls that had begun with Sussex and New Castle halls three decades earlier. In 1953, the University built a much larger women’s residence, Smyth Hall, designed to house 214 students on Academy Street, adjacent to Kent Dining Hall.
In 1958, on Academy Street, roughly opposite Smyth, the University completed a Student Center that included a large dining facility to handle the overflow from Kent and the men’s commons in Old College. As the University entered the 1960s, it was necessary to expand student housing construction even further, and the University began constructing residence halls on the large property behind the center. The residence halls built in the 1960s differed from those built earlier in significant ways. In the past, the University had depended on private gifts or state appropriations for such purposes. In the 1960s, the federal Housing and Home Finance Agency and the Department of Housing and Urban Development extended long-term credit to universities to support construction of student housing. In order to minimize the room fees that were essential to paying off the construction bonds and to increase the number of units as rapidly as possible, the University abandoned expensive, colonial-style architecture in favor of modern, functional styles. The use of brick facing in the newer buildings maintained a semblance of uniformity with earlier campus architecture, but the size and scale of the new buildings was larger than those constructed earlier.
Most important for the future of women residential students, however, was the abandonment of the concept of a women’s campus separate from that of the men. New residence hall complexes, constructed on east and west areas of the campus, mixed men’s and women’s dormitories to create a truly coeducational campus. During the 1960s, the University built three large residence hall complexes around a grassy area behind the Student Center-Harrington, Russell, and Gilbert. Those halls, which combined men and women students in one area, became the focal point for a new kind of campus life. In the late 1960s, the University built two more co-educational residence complexes, Rodney and Dickinson, on the west part of the campus, and in the early 1970s, the Pencader and Christiana complexes were developed on the north campus.
No matter how rapidly the University increased its campus housing, student numbers were always well ahead of the supply. That fact presented special problems for the University because of its restrictive policies regarding women students. Traditionally, the University had maintained a relaxed attitude toward housing its male students, who were free to live off campus in fraternity houses or in private housing. By contrast, the policy established by Dean Robinson a half century before continued to require those women students who did not commute from home to live on campus. Burgeoning student numbers forced University administrators to reconsider their housing policies for women students. One response to this problem was to limit the number of women by enforcing a quota of thirty-five percent on the number of out-of-state women who were admitted.
In retrospect, it is clear that the years from 1945 until about 1967 were the twilight of the Women’s College. On the surface, few differences distinguished University women in 1967 from those of 1947. In 1967, the Association of Women Students published a pamphlet entitled, "Your Co-ed Campus," which was to be distributed to all women students. The rituals and rules that it described were little changed from those of a decade, or even two decades, before. The pamphlet began with a brief history of the Women’s College and a statement of welcome from Dean Collins, who was described as "our very sincere and enthusiastic adviser." The booklet then took note of the organization and purpose of the A.W.S. and gave an account of the women’s social honor system. The authors explained that women students were honor-bound to report themselves or others who committed infractions of the rules. The booklet reminded students of the University community’s expectations for their deportment, suggesting that women students wear skirts and sweaters or "A-line" dresses and loafers to class or on casual dates. Suits and heels were appropriate attire for more formal occasions, such as football games.
The theme of continuity was also vividly recalled by a member of the class of 1967 who attended a party in Warner Hall to honor the senior-class residents about to graduate. The refreshments consisted of two cakes. On one was a message of congratulations together with a long list of the names of those seniors who were engaged to be married. A second cake, containing only three names, was presented to those who were not as yet engaged. Nobody at the party knew quite how to treat these three atypical women, especially the one who had chosen to attend graduate school.21
Despite demonstrations of conformity to the gender roles of the past, dramatic changes were on the horizon. The year 1967 was a crucial one for inaugurating changes of all kinds. in that year, which Dean Collins characterized in her annual report as "not-too-easy times,"22 the Committee on the Education of Women sponsored a seminar series entitled, "Great Expectations For Women." Students For a Democratic Society, a radical organization better known by its initials S.D.S., staged a protest on Frazer Field against compulsory participation in ROTC and elected its candidate for president of the Student Government Association. President Perkins told the Board of Trustees that the University could no longer accept so many women students without surrendering its residence policy.
For the University of Delaware, the climax of that year of turbulent change was the unexpected announcement of John A. Perkins’ resignation from the presidency. An era in the history of the University of Delaware was closing, and women’s place in campus life was about to be redefined.