Female Graduate Students: Then vs. Now

1608 Dot and Catherine in lab for posting

Dot and Katheryne Levis as graduate students in chemistry at UD in the early 1940s. Image courtesy of Special Collections, Morris Library

In 1944, the first female graduate students Dorothy (Dot) and Katheryne Levis arrived in Newark to begin work on their Master’s degrees, having received fellowships. Born in 1922, Dot and Katheryne graduated with honors from Eastern High in Baltimore, Maryland and attended the Women’s College of the University of North Carolina where they majored in chemistry (Katheryne Crook Levis McCormick). At The University of Delaware, the twins studied in the Plastics Research Laboratory under Dr. Elizabeth Dyer. For their Masters’ theses they wrote on the Fundamental Problems in High Polymer Chemistry. While at UD, Katheryne and Dot met former roommates and history professors Dick McCormack and John Munroe whom they later married (Katheryne to Dick and Dot to John) the summer after receiving their degrees. Following graduate school, Katheryne started a family with Dick which she balanced with her career teaching chemistry and math at Douglass College and her volunteer work as a political advocate. (Katheryne Crook Levis McCormick). Dot also juggled a fulltime career as she had three children with John while teaching high school math (To Work Or Not To Work).


Tatiana Ausema in front of a Color Field Morris Louis painting.

In the time since Katheryne and Dot attended, the number of graduate students at the University of Delaware has grown exponentially, with approximately 3,600 today. One current student in particular we want to highlight as a true Blue Hen is Tatiana Ausema. Tatiana graduated from the University of Delaware’s art conservation programs with a Bachelor degree in 2000 and her Master’s degree in 2003. Graduating with a specialization in paintings and modern materials, she then went on to work for the Smithsonian Institution as a researcher and conservator. Since 2006, she has worked for the Hirshhorn Museum in the collection department, but she is also working on her doctorate in Preservation Studies at UD. She is hoping to defend her dissertation in May 2015 on the “Working Methods and Materials of Color Field Painter Morris Louis” (Tatiana Auesema), and she has accepted a new job as a Program Officer at the National Endowment for the Humanities, replacing Laura Word. Tatiana is a thoroughly modern student, married and a mother of two young girls, working and juggling her dissertation too! This would have been extremely difficult when Dot and Katheryne were students and it is no easy task even now!

Also check out the Double Del couple who graduated in the summer of 2014! http://www.cas.udel.edu/news/Pages/double-physics-doctorates.aspx

By Deanna Webb (University Studies Freshman), Kate Horning (Art Conservation Freshman), and Riley Thomas (Art Conservation Honors Freshman)

Works Cited

Blaszczyk, Regina Lee. University of Delaware Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering: 100        Years of Innovation: A Legacy of Pedagogy & Research. Newark, DE: U of Delaware, 2014. Print.

“Katheryne Crook Levis McCormick.” Www.munroe.ws. N.p., 5 Dec. 2011. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.<http://munroe.ws/Levis_Katheryne_Crook/KatheryneCrookLevisMcCormick.html>.

“Tatiana Ausema.” Art Conservation at the University of Delaware. University of Delaware, Web. 14 Oct. 2014. <http://www.artcons.udel.edu/doctorate/current-projects/tatiana-ausema>.

“To Work or Not To Work.” The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (n.d.): 10.             Www.munroe.ws. Web. 31 Oct. 2014.

To Work

Dormitory Life

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Warner Hall dormitory in the 1950s. Image Courtesy UDigital_431_Dorms-Warner Hall-lpr.jpg

Imagine waking up in the twenties as one of the very few women at the University of Delaware. The residence halls included everything one would need ranging from the dining hall to the professors that lived down the hall. It is safe to say that the living arrangements were a lot different than they are now, though the food probably hasn’t changed too much. Dean Robinson, director of the Women’s College, served as an authoritative figure for all of the women in the dorms by residing with the students as well as utilizing her knowledge as an established professor. Some of her roles in the residence hall consisted of teaching the students how to put on makeup, enforcing discipline, and encouraging education. One important aspect of her teachings was to be respected by both the men at the university and their families at home. She knew that many of the women under her care had not had the chance to finish high school and she wanted her students to be able to flourish into valuable and educated citizens no matter their background.(Beneath Thy Guiding Hand chapter 3)

small2738 Dorm room 1914

A “cell-like” dorm room that Mrs. Warner decorated. Image 2738 courtesy Special Collections in the Morris Library.

small2739 Dorm living area

Mrs. Warner made great efforts to provide a homey atmosphere to Residence Hall (later renamed Warner Hall). Image 2739 courtesy of Special Collections in the Morris Library.

Similar to the layout of the dorms today, Dean Robinson promoted a cell-like setup in order to emphasize the importance of studying in all aspects of life. One can see today that the dull, cream-colored walls still exist in what is now called Warner Hall. In addition, to the rooms themselves, residence halls still have areas to study outside of dorm rooms, continuing the idea that education and learning should be involved in as much of the students life as possible. Since the establishment of the Women’s College, the university needed to expand its resources and buildings. “Since its opening, the college had added several buildings: Sussex Residence Hall in 1916, Kent Dining Hall and New Castle Residence Hall in 1926, and in 1930 the Gymnasium (now Hartshorn Hall, named for Beatice Hartshorn, Professor of Physical Education from 1925-1962). In addition, the college maintained three “temporary” dormitory buildings, called by the whimsical names Topsy, Turvy, and Boletus, which had been constructed in the early 1920s to accommodate the increased student body” (Beneath Thy Guiding Hand Chapter 3).

Temporary women's dormitories known as Topsey, Turvey & Boletus in the 1920s.  Image courtesy the University of Delaware Archives.

Temporary women’s dormitories known as Topsey, Turvey & Boletus in the 1920s. Image courtesy the University of Delaware Archives.

As the rapid enrollment in the Women’s College continued, Dean Robinson started to assign up to five people to a room. Parallel to the enrollment today, new dorms are being built, up to three students are being assigned to one room as the University continues to expand, though students today will never have to encounter sharing one room with four other people.

Although there are a lot of similarities, times have changed here at UD. The residence halls no longer have a 10pm curfew and now there are no professors living down the hall. A more important step 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” (Beneath Thy Guiding Hand Chapter 4). Since the campus became integrated, women have more opportunities to succeed as well as set the standard for women’s education today.

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Photograph of newly completed Warner Hall (on the right) and Robinson Hall (on the left), looking northeast. 1914. Image courtesy of the University of Delaware Archives.

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The STAR Campus.

Today there are a total of 13 Residence Hall Complexes, made up of 42 buildings  that house almost 8,000 undergraduate students. The total number of university buildings just on the Newark Campus is 341.


In November 2009, the University of Delaware purchased 272 acres of land adjacent to UD’s South Campus – property formerly occupied by the Chrysler Newark Assembly Plant.” This new land has been coined the STAR Campus: Science, Technology & Advanced Research. Apart from the North, East, West, South, Laird, and Central campuses on site in Newark, the University also has campuses throughout the state. Other locations include: Wilmington, Dover, Georgetown, and Lewes

Looking back at a time where there were two total buildings for women to attend, the 341 buildings, over 2,000 acres of land, and multiple campuses throughout Delaware, would have seemed like a dream to founders Warner and Robinson. But in reality, what the university is today would never have been possible without them.

By Taylor Miller ( University Studies Freshman) , Allie Tjaden (University Studies Freshman ), Greta Sweeney (Art Conservation Freshman) Sam Matera (Anthropology Freshman) and Claire Martin (Honors Art Conservation Freshman)

Women’s Attendance at UD

The year 1743 is a widely celebrated and cherished date for the University of Delaware community. It was the year this great school was established and became known as a legitimate educational institution. Students attended classes and lived on this small, quaint campus centered in Old College for nearly 130 years before the first female students arrived.  Then in 1870, the exclusively male campus and university underwent a revolutionary change, when the first experiment in female enrollment began with co-ed classrooms.  William Purnell, president at the time, had college-aged daughters who attended the college.

Reunion of first female UD graduates in 1930s.  Mrs. Chas. W. Reed 1884, Miss Martha Wilson (grand daughter of Rathmell Wilson), Miss Emma Blandy 1879, Miss May Janvier 1882, Mrs. Walter Hullihen, Miss Laura Mackey 1886, Mrs. Clarence Pool 1884, Dr. Walter Hullihen (president), Miss Ida Simmons 1884, Mrs. Delaware Clark 1875. Image courtesy of Special Collections of The Morris Library.

Reunion of first female UD graduates in 1930s. Mrs. Chas. W. Reed 1884, Miss Martha Wilson (grand daughter of Rathmell Wilson), Miss Emma Blandy 1879, Miss May Janvier 1882, Mrs. Walter Hullihen, Miss Laura Mackey 1886, Mrs. Clarence Pool 1884, Dr. Walter Hullihen (president), Miss Ida Simmons 1884, Mrs. Delaware Clark 1875. Image courtesy of Special Collections of The Morris Library.

In the five years following initial female enrollment, an average of fourteen women attended UD. This number stayed relatively constant for 15 years, while male attendance was rising rapidly. In 1885, however, William Purnell left the college, and female admittance ended abruptly.

It was not until 1914 when women began to be admitted once again, and the Women’s College was finally established.small Women's Campus sign







In 1914, these empowered young women, 58 in all, appropriately called themselves “the Pioneers.” Yet, men still dominated the campus in terms of students and staff.

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It was not until the late 1960s the administration began to consider gender equality.  Pressure from the women’s rights movement caused attendance rates for women to rise in colleges everywhere, including the University of Delaware, where momentum helped to create the near equal ratios of men and women familiar today.

Since the Women’s College’s creation, gender based statistics of students have roughly reversed. The number of female students attending UD has risen above the male population. Between 2009 and 2013, an average of 2401 more female students were admitted than males. And this gender gap is steadily widening. This is in stark contrast to admittance rates of the early 20th century, when twice as many men were admitted than women. In 1915, 29% of the undergraduate population consisted of women, while in 2013 it was 57.5%.

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This is an impressive shift to have taken place in just over a century, especially when compared to the startling rejection of female applicants from 1885 to 1913. Researchers suggest the reversal occurred in the 1960s as a result of women’s new aspirations to excel in a career, rather than a job. Additional pressures from excessive student loans have led to a decrease in prospective male students (Francis). There have been significant changes in women’s attendance at UD and these changes will continue to improve the university.

By Nikki Margenson (Freshman Anthropology Major), Chloe Hunter (Freshman Anthropology Major), and Amanda Kasman (Freshman Honors Art Conservation Major)


Francis, David R. “Why Do Women Outnumber Men in College?” RECENT NBER RESEARCH, NEWS, AND PRESS CITATIONS, n.d. Web. 30 Oct. 2014. http://www.udel.edu/IR/fnf/21-ugdiversity.pdf

Hoffecker, Carol E.  Beneath Thy Guiding Hand

Musical Blue Hens


1924 Blue and Gold
Photograph of the Women’s College Orchestra, one of the many clubs that were an essential part of college life at the Women’s College. Taken from 1924 Blue & Gold yearbook. Courtesy University of Delaware Archives .

In the early years of the Women’s College one might assume that the female students’ experience was one that mainly revolved around classes. The female students did attend the college to receive an education, but the idea was to design “a college that provided a safe, homelike, and comfortable environment” (Beneath Thy Guiding Hand, Carol E. Hoffecker) as well. This meant that everything found outside of the classroom environment had to be provided for the female students. Extra-curricular activities bound the women together in kinship and reinforced their presence at the institution.

Marching Band Homecoming-1961 https://photos.ocm.udel.edu/udigital/

Marching Band Homecoming-1961

“Creative arts had long been associated with women’s alleged special affinity for culture and aesthetics” (Hoffecker) so it was not surprising that many of the extra-curricular activities offered to the female students fell under the category of the arts, such as drama and music, both choral and instrumental. A Glee Club, a Mandolin Club, small orchestra, choir, and marching band were present at the college. “The yearbook from 1918 notes that the Glee Club members had kazoos which they played at Delaware College athletic events and illegally during lights out in the residence hall” (Hoffecker). “The Dramatic Club, created in 1917, focused initially on performing modest productions of skits and charades, but it later evolved into an organization capable of performing major dramatic works in conjunction with its counterpart in Delaware College” (Hoffecker). The female students would often rummage through their attics to find 18th century props and costumes to use in their performances.

The music clubs and programs available at the University of Delaware include everything from 8 bit orchestra, a group that uses music from video games to compose concerts each semester, to marching band, orchestra, choral groups, an instrumental jazz ensemble, an opera group, and many more. There is also an all girls acapella group by the name of D Sharps, founded in 1990.  The opportunities for students to get involved in music related clubs at the University today seem endless.  Clubs in general, have grown and expanded over the years; and today there are over 400 student-run organizations.

By Savannah Kruguer (Art Conservation major)  and Alaina Smith (Art History major)


Marching Band students at a game against UMass, October 15th 2011

Women and Diversity: Then and Now

One hundred years ago, a few dedicated women helped start the Women’s College of Delaware in 1914. This was a major milestone on the path to gender equality; however, it is important to recognize this achievement was not extended to non-white Delawareans until 1950, when the University of Delaware was forced to integrate.

Cora Berry-Saunders

Mrs. Cora Berry-Saunders in the 1960s. She earned her Master’s Degree in Education in 1951. Image courtesy of the Hinson Family.

Of the first ten African American students, three were women. The first minority woman to receive a graduate degree from the newly desegregated University of Delaware was Cora Berry-Saunders. She received her Master’s Degree in Education in 1951, after teaching for many years at Howard High School in Wilmington, Delaware. She was a vital member of the New London Road Community (click here for podcast on the importance of education in this community), which was where African-Americans lived in a segregated Newark. According to Crystal Haymen Simms,Cora Berry-Saunders was also a teacher at the New London Avenue Elementary School before desegregation, and at Central Elementary after desegregation. She was the 3rd and 4th grade teacher for that last school year before the final closing of the New London Avenue School (1957-58).  She loved the arts, and she adored poetry. Students in her classes had to learn l-o-n-g poems on a weekly basis and recite them before the class. To this day, her students have no fear of standing up and speaking publicly. Many of her students later became UD grads. Her attendance and graduation reflects her weighty personal achievements and the slow acceptance of integration and Newark’s growing diversity.

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Current doctoral student Patrese Robinson-Drummer. She is carrying out research in the area of behavioral neuroscience. Image courtesy Robinson-Drummer.

Today, the University of Delaware is highly focused on promoting equity and inclusion in order to better reflect surrounding communities. A current Blue Hen we have chosen to highlight is Patrese Robinson-Drummer, who received a Bachelor’s Degree in Animal Science from UD in 2010, and she is now pursuing her PhD at the University of Delaware in Behavioral Neuroscience. Her research explores the ontogeny and mechanisms of memory and learning using animal models. Between these degrees she earned a Master’s degree from St. Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, Pa.) in Experimental Psychology.  Ms. Robinson-Drummer is satisfied with life at UD, although she is mindful of her minority status.  She recommends: “don’t be afraid to be a minority; it’s what makes you special, it’s what makes you yourself.”

University Institutions like the English Language Institute and the Center for Diversity Studies are especially focused on promoting an increasingly  inclusive campus (see recent Review article).  The goal is not without its challenges, as witnessed this fall (see recent Review editorial), but both the Path to Prominence and the new Delaware Will Shine strategic plans place inclusion and equity as a top priority.

By: Olivia Baumgardner & Wanwen (June) Zhu

Chemistry Majors

            About one hundred years ago, things were very different for a woman going to college in Delaware. Men and women were separated and treated very differently, as men were seen as superior and more independent.  Today, women have a better chance at equality, and they have a better chance at fulfilling their dreams.

Miss Catherine Broad was a student at the Women’s College of Delaware who graduated in 1933 with honors and a double major in English and Chemistry. After graduating she became the executive secretary to the Director of the Dupont Experimental Station. A podcast was produced about Ms. Broad’s May Day dress for a recent exhibition.

Blue and Gold Yearbook from 1932, featuring Catherine Broad.  Courtesy of the University Archives.

Blue and Gold Yearbook from 1932, featuring Catherine Broad. Courtesy of the University Archives.

Ms. Broad was a very high achiever, and what she accomplished was remarkable in her times.  She held a very prestigious position for a woman, but there is much more she could have done with her degree had she graduated a century later.

Alyssa from fb

Alyssa Hull (BS & BA 2014) Fulbright Scholar

Alyssa Hull recently graduated with honors from UD in 2014 with degrees in Chemistry and Art Conservation. Her interest in Art Conservation began when she learned from her freshman year roommate about Art Conservation. The major combined all of her passions. She is currently working in Norway on a Fulbright Research Scholarship, and is continuing her double degree by studying pigment change and how to slow or stop the process of fading in master works at the Munch museum. This is an issue for Munch’s iconic painting The Scream, as it is for several other impressionists’ paintings. These studies entail surveying light-altered pigments in Munch’s paintings and also analyzing the materials in paint tubes he donated to the museum upon his death. To take on this opportunity, Alyssa postponed her doctoral chemistry program at Duke University, which she will begin next fall. She hopes to become a museum scientist, and she is well on her way.

UD has produced many successful women in the field of chemistry. We have come a long way, and twenty-first century opportunities for women are moving toward parity with men.

By Becca King (Freshman Art History Major)


“Catherine Broad.” 1932. University of Delaware Yearbook, 67.

Podcast Common Threads – 1933 UD May Dress https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OKaOyPr_Xik

Hull, Alyssa. Personal Communication. October 13, 2014.


Dean Winifred J. Robinson

Dean Robinson in 1914

Dean Robinson in 1914.
Courtesy of Special Collections, Morris Library.

1910s scrapbook - Dean Robinson - When She Dreamed of Coming to Delaware

A page from Mrs. Warner’s Scrapbook showing her deep regard for Dean Robinson from the very start. Courtesy of the University Archives.

A flower pressing, transatlantic letters to students abroad in Paris, educational slides of Yellow Park, and baseball paraphernalia are a few of the artifacts from Dean Robinson, stored in a box in special collections.[1] Who is she? Winifred J. Robinson (1867–1962) was the first Dean of the Women’s College of Delaware, founded in 1914. The suffragists of Delaware found the right person. She had a small liberal arts education, PHD in botany-received after much hard work cataloging ferns in Hawaii,[2] a strong personality, and they saw in her a strong role model for their girls. Dr. Robinson was not only an administrator, but an educator and the live-in Resident Dean for the 7 faculty and 48 female students of the first-year class, and for many years to come.  The initial faculty consisted of 3 female professors, of Home Economics, Education, and Chemistry/Athletics.[3] In addition, there was a secretary, a dorm matron and a security guard. In the early 1920’s she accompanied a co-ed study abroad trip to France, of which she writes of playing knitting games and “floor ball.” She was the only woman with a vote in the Colleges’ administrative committee of 5 in the early days of the Women’s College. Dean Robinson retired in 1938[4] after paving the way for the Women’s College, the women of Delaware and in turn Delawareans into the 20th century. (Also see blog by Lisa Gensel)

In 1940 Science Hall was renamed in her honor, which now houses the administration for the College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment. The Men’s and Women’s Colleges merged in 1945. Today there are 7 colleges within the University of Delaware, and 3 are headed by female deans, including Dean Nancy Targett of Earth, Ocean and Environment; Dean Lynn Okagaki, of Education and Human Development; and Dean Kathleen Matt of Health Sciences.[5] 42.5% of the teaching faculty is female,[6] which after doing the math is the same percentage of female to male deans. Collusion? We think not!  The University of Delaware has come a long way since the turn of the last century and many of the programs that we all benefit from are a result of women leaders in education.

By Jared Goldstein (Freshman Anthropology Major) and Alex Tewnion (Freshman Art Conservation Major).

Dean Robinson from the 1930s.  Image  Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society Archives, Image #83.13.2266NB

Dean Robinson from the 1930s. Image
Courtesy of the Delaware Historical Society Archives, Image #83.13.2266NB

[1] Winifred J. Robinson papers, Manuscript collection number 413, Special collection.University of Delaware Library, Newark, Del

[2] Robinson Winifred J. Taxanomic Study of the Pteridophyta of the Hawaiian Islands. Lancaster, PA. Press of New era Print. Co 1912.

[3] Robinson, Winifred J.  History of the Women’s College of the University of Delaware, 1914-1938.  Newark, Del. University of Del. 1947.

[4] University of Delaware Website. Men and Women of the Green. http://www.udel.edu/TheGreen/people.html

[5] UD Website. Administration. www.udel.edu/aboutus/admin.html

[6] UD Website.. Office of Institutional Research & Effectiveness, Facts and Figures. www.udel.edu/IR/fnf/

Dean Robinson. Image Courtesy of Special Collections, Morris Library.

Dean Robinson. Image Courtesy of Special Collections, Morris Library.

Marian Coffin and the Campus Landscape

With its purposefully placed trees, guiding brick paths, and symmetrical layout, the University of Delaware’s campus is picturesque. The development of the University’s campus as we know it traces its origins to one woman in particular: Marian C. Coffin. Since her work in the 1920s, the University of Delaware has expanded and evolved, but remains true to Coffin’s vision of a unified campus despite the division between the Men’s (north) and Women’s (south) campuses.

Image of Marian Coffin courtesy of the Winterthur Museum Archives

Image of Marian Coffin courtesy of The Winterthur Library: Winterthur

Marian Coffin was the nation’s first female landscape designer/architect. An M.I.T. graduate, Coffin completed many impressive commissions before her work at the University of Delaware, the largest of which were her designs for the gardens on Henry Francis du Pont’s Winterthur estate. After her work at Winterthur, du Pont introduced Marian Coffin to H. Rodney Sharp, a member of the University Board of Trustees. Upon Sharp’s recommendation, the Delaware Board of Trustees hired Coffin for the landscaping of the North and South Green (Hoffecker, Loyal Alumnus).

Before Coffin, landscaping of the University’s campus had been done by Frank Miles Day in 1917. With adjustments to walkways, plantings, and arrangements, Coffin transformed the campus landscape from Day’s formal style into one with “a more casual, romantic character” (Hail). Trees were planted beside paths, plants and flowers were placed to draw the eye, and purposefully built circles and ovals brought the Women’s and Men’s college together across the “no man’s land” between the campuses. Another contributor to Coffin’s work was Dean Robinson, head of the Women’s College, who insisted upon students helping to plant trees on campus. These trees would leave the female students with a feeling of permanence and accomplishment while improving their campus. Though several trees were removed in 1963 for the construction of Morris Library, some of the trees still remain today in the area just south of Alison Hall (Hail).

Tree planting ceremony in 1917 by the students of the Women's College.  Courtesy of the University Archives

Tree planting ceremony in 1917 by the students of the Women’s College. Courtesy of the University Archives

Coffin’s designs created a sense of continuity from North to South Green, despite  distinctly different landscapes. On the North Mall, American Elms were planted in orderly rows, creating a stately, formal appearance. As Hail states on the South Mall, Coffin used circular and oval arrangements to “allow a naturalistic flow to the two campuses.” Another distinct feature of the South Green was its diverse flora; the many plantings included honey locusts, American beech, and native flowering trees such as sweet magnolia. The trees and other plantings provide the campus with diverse displays of foliage year-round, adding to the sense of “naturalistic flow” Coffin sought to create at the Women’s College (Hail).

Today, Marian Coffin’s ideas are still used as the template for the campus landscaping as the college continues to grow and evolve. Though not all of her original designs have survived, the University of Delaware’s present-day campus is a testament to the work of Marian Coffin, who created a landscape that is both beautiful and functional, and one that we are proud to show off as the seasons change.

By Olivia Haslam and Izzy Okaya


Marian Coffin’s original design courtesy of the University Archives.


Hail, Michael W. “The Art of Landscaping.” The UD Messenger. Vol. 2.2 (1993). 4. Web. Oct. 13. 2014. http://www.udel.edu/PR/Messenger/93/2/40.html

Hoffecker, Carol. Familiar Relations: The du Ponts and the University of Delaware. n.p. n.d. Web. Oct. 13. 2014. http://www.udel.edu/aboutus/duPontFamily/index.html


Movers and Shakers

Emalea Pusey Warner and Mae Carter championed the treatment and rights of women at the University of Delaware with great success. The programs they created, though fifty years apart, played crucial roles in the establishment and continuation of higher education for women at the University and served as models throughout the state of Delaware.

1918 June 10 Dr Shaw and Mrs Warner Commencement Outside of Residence Hall

1918 June 10 Dr Shaw and Mrs Warner Commencement Outside of Residence Hall

Emalea Pusey Warner never went to college herself; she married Alfred D. Warner, the president of his family’s Wilmington shipping firm, when she was nineteen. She became one of the most enthusiastic members of the Wilmington New Century Club, a women’s club seeking social reform, and worked tirelessly towards bringing more educational opportunities to women of all ages. In 1910 when President Harter of Delaware College proposed his plan for the Women’s College, Emalea Warner was given the position of Chairwoman of the Education Committee and appointed as one of the commissioners (the only female) of the group overseeing the building of the Women’s College. She was instrumental in finding a dean, faculty, and student body in 1913 when the Delaware General Assembly passed the Women’s College Bill. Furthermore, she was chosen to be the first woman on the Board of Trustees of the University of Delaware in 1928. Without Emalea Warner, there would have been no inaugural celebration of the opening of the Women’s College on October 10th, 1914. In recognition of Emalea Warner’s dedication to the higher education for women at the University of Delaware, Residence Hall (where the female students lived in the Women’s College) was renamed as Warner Hall.

Mae Carter was passionate about offering equal opportunities for higher education to mature women: adult women who had never been to college or were seeking to continue their education. She was hired by the University of Delaware as a counselor to assist these women in attending college. From this part-time, marginal, non-faculty position, Mae Carter revolutionized the educational opportunities for women at the University of Delaware. In 1967, she instituted a program called “Great Expectations for Women,” aimed at returning female students, that was so successful it was also used in Georgetown and Dover.

Mae Carter

Mae Carter (Image from the UD Awards page). A scholarship, in honor of Mae Carter, former Assistant Provost for Women’s Affairs and Executive Director of the Commission on the Status of Women, is awarded to an undergraduate woman student at the University who carries the values that Mae Carter has represented to the University community of women.

Mae Carter chaired the Women’s Studies Committee when it was created in 1971 and worked with other faculty members to create the first Women’s Studies course; when it was a success, she pushed for the inclusion of Women’s Studies as a permanent, funded program of the University. Mae Carter left the Women’s Studies Committee in 1973 to lead the newly created Commission on the Status of Women to support the equal treatment of women at the University. Five years later, the Commission created the Office of Women’s Affairs, an administrative branch, which was headed by Mae Carter. In this position, she established, among other things, the Women of Promise and Women of Excellence awards and dinners for outstanding female students at the University of Delaware, both of which continue today. In honor of her enormous contributions to the University of Delaware female community, the University annually awards a $1,500 scholarship to a female undergraduate student who shares Mae Carter’s zeal for the educational rights of women.

University of Delaware Awards: Mae Carter Scholarship

Beneath Thy Guiding Hand: A History of Women at the University of Delaware

By Rebecca Selig, Art Conservation and Anthropology double major, in the Honors Program