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Women at Georgetown University

This guide is intended as a starting point for finding materials relating to the history of women at Georgetown University

Timeline 1880-1960

This timeline, while not intended to be exhaustive, presents some key events in the history of women students, faculty, and administrators at Georgetown from 1880 to 1960. Events from 1960 to present are listed in the box below.

When Georgetown was founded, the separate education of men and women (who were seen as needing only limited educational opportunities), was taken for granted. Our founding document, therefore, did not need to specify that the University was intended to educate only men. Prior to 1880, the presence of women on campus was limited to guests or to those, either free or enslaved (prior to 1862), who worked there.




Annie Rice and Jeannette Sumner enroll in the Medical School. They stay for one year


ca. 1881 


Medical School enacts rules which specify No other than white male students shall be admitted to this school




Training School for Nursing is founded




First students graduate from the Training School for Nursing. They are awarded certificates, not degrees 




First women earn bachelor's degrees from Georgetown University. These women are sisters at the neighboring Georgetown Visitation Convent. They are not enrolled as regular students and never come to campus; Georgetown professors go to the Convent to teach classes. The first sister earns a master’s degree in 1921 and the first earns a Ph.D. in 1923




Sophie A. Nordhoff-Jung, M.D., is hired as instructor of gynecology in the Medical School; she was the first woman to join the University faculty. In 1935, she is promoted to associate professor




Dental School begins a Dental Hygiene program, restricted solely to women students. An intense 35 week program consisting of lectures, recitations, lab work and practice in assisting in clinics, it is terminated in 1937 due to declining enrollments. Women can not enroll as DDS students until 1954




Genevieve G. Brady, philanthropist and widow of New York financier Nicholas F. Brady, who had donated literary manuscripts and first editions collected by her late husband to Georgetown, becomes the first woman to receive an honorary degree 

Mask and Bauble performance of The Tavern is the first performance by a Georgetown drama group to include women in the cast. Students from Trinity College play the female parts




Nursing School begins a five-year program in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences which leads to a Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree




Graduate School admits a small number of women students




Foreign Service School allows women to enroll in order to shore up enrollment numbers which are declining because of the war




Marie Stoll is the first women to be appointed Registrar at the Law Center




Anne S. Lawrence and Mary Alice Sheridan are the first women to graduate with a BSFS degree from the Foreign Service School, in due part to transferred credits from other schools




Concepcion A. Aguila is the first woman to receive a Ph.D. from Georgetown as a regular degree seeking student 




Sarah Stewart is the first woman to graduate from the Medical School. Dr. Stewart becomes an instructor in the Medical School in 1944. At that time, the school is not accepting women as regular students. When that policy changes in 1947, she enrolls

Women are able to enroll in the newly opened Institute of Languages and Linguistics




Mary Stanley is the first woman to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree from the Business Division, then still part of the Foreign Service School

Patricia Anna Collier becomes the first woman to enroll in the Law School in the summer.  Six additional women join her in the fall




Women’s Athletic Association (WAA) is established by a group of women students in the Nursing School. Its initial focus is on intramural basketball - field hockey, swimming, tennis, horseback riding are later added. The Association opens to women students outside the Nursing School in 1963




First woman enrolls in the Doctor of Dental Surgery program 

Women are able to take day classes in Foreign Service School. Prior to this date, they are limited to evening classes

Foreign Service Women’s Association forms




Kathleen D. “Skippy” White, a student in the Nursing School and member of the GU sailing team, is the first Georgetown  woman to win a varsity letter. As half of a two-member team sailing in Class A dinghy competition, she successfully competes with – and against – men

Valerie A. Earle is the first woman appointed to the faculty of the Business Division

Vera Rubin is hired as a research associate. She serves as assistant professor of astronomy between 1962 and 1965. A few years later she makes groundbreaking observations that provide evidence for the existence of a vast amount of dark matter in galaxies, changing the way scientists think of the universe




St. Mary’s Hall opens, allowing nursing students to move onto campus for the first time




Helen E. Steinbinder is the first woman appointed to the Law School faculty when she is hired to teach Real Property

Eastern Intercollegiate Athletic Association enforces an existing rule excluding women and bars Skippy White and Georgetown’s second “letterwoman”, Carole Bloise – like White a member of the sailing team – from competition




Sister Martha Mary Mehrl becomes the first woman to graduate from the Dental School


Timeline 1961-present

This timeline, while not intended to be exhaustive, presents some key events in the history of women students, faculty, and administrators at Georgetown from 1961 to present in chronological order. Events from 1880 to 1960 are listed in the box above.




Dr. Patricia Rueckel is appointed to fill the newly created position of Dean of Women

University purchases Halcyon House (3406 Prospect Street) for use as a women’s residence hall because of the increasing number of women students. The completion of Darnall as a women’s dorm makes ownership unnecessary and the house is sold in 1966 

Kober-Cogan serves as the University’s first coed dorm starting in the fall. Women are housed on the top four floors, while medical residents who are all men occupy the second floor




Mary Jo Bane, F’1963, becomes the first woman editor of the Foreign Service Courier (a student magazine)




Darnall Hall opens to house women students

Walsh Area Women’s Committee and the School of Nursing Student Council award the first Darnall Award. This award, designed to recognize  a woman who successfully combines the role of wife and mother with responsibility to her community, is given to Eunice Shriver. The following year, Dolores Hope, Bob Hope’s wife, receives the award

Lucie Baines Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, leaves the Nursing School as she wishes to marry and the School does not permit married woman to continue with their studies




Women are represented on the editorial board of The Hoya for the first time  



Valerie A. Earle is elected as the first president of  the newly created Faculty Senate

Nursing School allows married students to enroll and allows enrolled students to marry. Prior to this, married women could not enroll and only senior students could marry - if they had the permission of the Dean




Georgetown announces that the College of Arts and Sciences will accept women students the following year




A small number of women transfer into the College from other Georgetown schools in the spring

College allocates 50 places to women students in the fall semester and receives over 500 applications for those places

Copley Hall is designated as a coeducational dorm, with women housed on its third floor and, later, on its fifth

Dr. Patricia Rueckel is appointed as Vice President for Student Development and becomes not  only the first woman vice president at Georgetown but the highest ranking woman administrator in any of the 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. The following year she is elected president of the Conference of Jesuit Student Personnel Administrators

Jo Gramling becomes the first woman editor-in-chief of the Georgetown Law Journal

Mary Switzer, first administrator of the Social and Rehabilitation Service in the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, is the first woman elected to a term on the University’s Board of Directors




Foreign Service School drops its quota system of one women student to every eight men




Delanne Bernier serves as coxswain for the crew team and draws the ire of the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference whose rules forbid women to compete with men in ECAC events

Bernadette Savard, C’1973, is selected as the first woman editor-in-chief of The Hoya

Elizabeth Glenn Sarpy, director of the District of Columbia Health and Welfare Council, and Rita Lenihan, G’1945 (one of the first woman admitted to the Graduate School), are the first women appointed to the Board of Regents

Transfer student Julie Johnson founds the Georgetown Women’s Caucus. It receives University funding in 1973




Sister Laetitia Blain, R.J.M, is the first woman to serve as a Chaplain on campus

Jayne Thomas Rich becomes the first woman to serve as Chief of University Security

Women’s Caucus is formed

Women move into dormitory rooms around the Quadrangle (on the 4th floors of Healy and Maguire) for the first time in the fall




Virginia Keeler is the first woman appointed as Secretary of the University

College Class of 1978 arrives on campus, the first to contain more women than men




Women crew begins as a club sport. As such, it receives no money from the University. Funds are raised by organizing social events, row-a-thons and bake sales




Julianna Zekan is elected as the first woman president of the Student Bar Association




Deborah Canty, C’1978, becomes the first woman student government president




Athletic Board votes to recommend the elevation of Women’s Crew to varsity status




Adele Wells is the first woman appointed as Vice President of Alumni and University Relations




The words to Georgetown’s Alma Mater, written in the 1890s, are updated to remove references to Sons of Georgetown

Mary Briese Matheron is the first woman to be hired as a full time coach for women’s basketball




First course in Women’s Studies is offered in the spring




Women’s Studies becomes a minor program




First issue of The New Press, a women's journal is published. Founded by a group of ten undergraduates, the publication is intended to bring greater focus to women's issues




Judy Areen is appointed as the first woman Dean of the Law Center




Women’s Center, located in New South, opens in March   

Task Force on the Recruitment, Retention, and Advancement of Women on the Main Campus publishes its report, the first of its kind at Georgetown




Dr. Carolyn Robinowitz becomes the first woman Dean of the Medical School; she is the first woman psychiatrist to be named dean of a United States medical school




Dorothy Brown is appointed as the first woman Provost, a position she holds until 2002. Dr. Brown was one of the early women faculty in Georgetown College. She joined the faculty in 1966

Jane McAuliffe becomes the first woman Dean of Georgetown College




Georgetown Women’s Leadership Institute is founded




Reena Aggarwal is named interim Dean of the McDonough Business School




Carol Lancaster becomes the first woman Dean of the Foreign Service School




Georgetown University Institute for Women, Peace and Security (GIWPS) is launched. GIWPS uses research and partnerships to promote the role of women in international affairs and global peace. It is led by Ambassador Melanne Verveer

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