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Georgetown University between 1955 and 1975

This guide highlights online sources useful for research on Georgetown University between 1955 and 1975

Timeline, 1965-1975




University provides housing in early January for members of the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party (MFDP) who are in DC to challenge the seating of five Mississippi congressmen who have been elected in contests virtually closed to African American voters

Darnall Hall opens to house women students

Walsh Area Women’s Committee and the School of Nursing Student Council award the first Darnall Award. The 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

Group of Georgetown students drives to Selma, Alabama to attend a memorial service for a DC clergyman who has been murdered there in March. The East Campus Student Council passes resolutions expressing solidarity with the civil rights movement, setting up an emergency fund to provide support for the students in Alabama, and starting a petition campaign to secure federal protection for civil rights workers.

Bernard White signs a letter of intent to play at Georgetown and becomes the University’s first African-American basketball player

Lucie Baines Johnson, daughter of President Lyndon Baines Johson, leaves the Nursing School as she wishes to marry and married woman are not permitted to continue as students in the School

Georgetown becomes the first U.S. University to hold a summer program at the Moscow State University. This program is repeated in 1966

Architectural firm of John Carl Warnecke and Associates is commissioned to design the library in July 1965. Warnecke had previously designed the memorial to John F. Kennedy in Arlington National Cemetery




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

Membership on the Board of Directors expands in number from 12 to 15 and broadens in scope to include Jesuits from outside Georgetown

Florence Dailey leaves $7 million in Eastman Kodak stocks to Georgetown. This bequest is the largest ever received by the University to this point. The motivation for her generosity – she had no personal connection to Georgetown – is unknown. The University uses the money for student scholarships

Psychology and sociology departments are established

Medical School is awarded the first clinical pharmacological contract written by the FDA

Pay parking on campus is approved by the Board of Directors

Male students are allowed to keep and drink alcoholic beverages in their dorm rooms for the first time

Amendment to 1844 charter which incorporated Georgetown legally changes the school's name from Georgetown College to  Georgetown University




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 senior students could only marry with permission of the Dean 

Law School graduates are awarded J.D.s rather than LL.B.s for the first time

After the first Alumni Association sponsored European tour, alumni clubs are established in Rome, Paris, and London

Lay members are appointed to the Board of Directors

Protestant and Jewish theologians are added to the Theology Department

Hillel Chapter is established

Law Center sets up the Institute for Urban Service Aides to provide courses in sociology, political science, psychology and history to staff in D.C.’s human service agencies




Jesuit Community separately incorporates

Georgetown University Committee to Support the Poor People’s Campaign (GUPPC) is established in March

Four days of riots in DC follow the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. After a memorial service in the Quadrangle at noon on April 5, a delegation of hundreds of Georgetown students led by the GUPPC co-chairs march to the White House to deliver a petition in support of a national day of mourning for Dr. King. Classes are cancelled beginning Monday April 8, allowing students to go home three days early for Easter if they wish; many stay help local residents

Black Student Alliance is founded

Commencement ceremony takes place but all other associated activities are cancelled after the assassination of Robert Kennedy

Bill Clinton graduates from the Foreign Service School. Among his fellow graduates is Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo (President of the Philippines from 2001 until 2010)

Student Center opens in Healy basement

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

Community Scholars Program is founded as a direct response to the racial justice crises of 1968. It aims to promote social justice by enrolling a more racially and socioeconomically diverse student body

University-wide rank-and-tenure committee is established

 130 faculty members create a scholarship fund to finance the education of five African-American students from Washington, D.C.

Admissions Office makes specific efforts to recruit African-American students from the D.C. public schools for the first time 




Georgetown Voice publishes its first issue on March 4. Its editors promise to present and analyze national and local issues of concern to the student, whose concern should spread beyond the campus. The paper takes its name from New York’s Village Voice

San Francisco Mayor Joseph L. Alioto is prevented from speaking in Gaston Hall on March 13 by members of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), most of whom were not Georgetown students. Thousands of students sign a letter of apology to him

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

Black Awareness Week is celebrated on campus for the first time,  April 14-19

Nursing School announces that it will admit men students in the fall

Unified Student Senate is formed replacing separate student governments in the College, East Campus and Nursing School

After women enroll in the College in the fall, 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, the 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

American Studies Program is created

Robert J. Henle, S.J. is inaugurated as University President on October 7

Students participate in protests in the fall to oppose plans by the District of Columbia to build a bridge over the Potomac River near the Three Sisters islets. Construction for the bridge would have displaced thousands of families, predominantly African-Americans, from their homes in D.C. Plans for the bridge were eventually withdrawn from D.C.’s master transportation plan in 1977

Seven courses in Black Studies are created for the fall

The Who perform in McDonough Gymnasium in November as part of a tour to support their album Tommy




Hoyas Unlimited, the athletic booster club, is established in the spring 

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

Roy Cogdell is appointed as Director of Community Programs, a new position within the University. He also serves as moderator for the Black Student Alliance. One of the few African Americans to hold high administrative office at Georgetown in the 1970s, Dr. Cogdell resigns in 1973 to become Dean of the College of Human Learning and Development at Governors State University, Park Forrest South, Illinois

Lauinger Library opens on April 6

Dean Price, AIA, is hired as University Architect, giving Georgetown for the first time unified and professional oversight of its campus planning process

B.B. King plays at Prom

Student Senate votes for a strike of classes from May 6-8 in support of  demands for the U.S. Government to cease escalation of the Vietnam War. After faculty support of the student strike, the University suspends classes on May 7 for the rest of the semester. Students are able to meet with faculty and take final exams on a voluntary basis. Alternatively, they are able to settle for existing grades or make arrangements to submit papers in place of final exams

Peter Krogh becomes Dean of the Foreign Service School 

Wisdom and Discovery in a Dynamic World Progress Fund campaign ends, having raised $4,000,000 for scholarships, fellowships and student loans and for the construction of the Law Center, Lauinger Library, Dahlgren Memorial Medical Library, Dental Clinic, and Basic Science Building

Summer School becomes known as the Summer and Continuing Education School

All rock concerts on campus are suspended in November, following incidents at the Grateful Dead and Traffic concerts held in McDonough Gym on October 23 and November 15

Vincent T. Lombardi Cancer Center is established




Protesters in DC to demonstrate against the Vietnam War arrive on campus on May 2 after their camping permits for West Potomac Park are cancelled. They set up tents on the athletic field and after it begins to rain, are invited into the dorms by GU students. The University opts to let them stay as they are peaceful. They leave around 6 a.m. the next morning (May 3)

Around 2500 anti-war demonstrators are driven onto campus by police using tear gas on May 3. A decision is made at 9:15 a.m. to cancel exams – 15 minutes before they are due to start. An area for washing off pepper and tear gas is set up in the Bles Building and student marshals work, at great personal risk, to try and keep police and demonstrators apart

Law Center moves from 506 E Street, N.W. to 600 New Jersey Avenue, following the opening of Bernard P. McDonough Hall

John Kerry speaks against the Vietnam War in Gaston Hall on September 30

Astronomy Department closes

Kennedy Foundation pledges over $1 million to found a center for the study of human reproduction, leading to the establishment of the Kennedy Institute




Coach John Thompson, II is selected as head men’s basketball coach in March. He is only the seventh African American hired as a head basketball coach at a predominantly white college

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 and one of the first woman admitted to the Graduate School, are the first women appointed to the Board of Regents

WGTB begins broadcasting twenty-four hours day; it can reach listeners within a sixty mile radius

Volleyball team is set up

Students of Georgetown, Inc. (The Corp) is chartered

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

Film crew for The Exorcist spend seven days on campus in October, filming at locations which include the Quadrangle, in front of Healy Hall, and the steps leading from Lauinger Library to 37th Street. Around 300 Georgetown students appear as extras in the production, mainly in crowd scenes




University announces in January that President Richard Nixon will be the commencement speaker. In April, he declines the invitation and the University invites the Most Rev. William Baum, Archbishop-elect of Washington, to be the principal speaker

Students place around 6000 lemons against the door to the President’s Office on February 2, while the Board of Directors is meeting inside. This “lemonstration” is to protest proposed increases in tuition and board and rising enrollments. Undeterred, the Board approves the increases

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

Vital Vittles opens. The first storefront of The Students of Georgetown, Inc. (The Corp), Vittles begins as a food co-op in the lobby of New South before moving to Healy basement

University buys Alban Towers, an apartment-hotel located at 3700 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., to ease its student housing crisis. Around 320 students move in at the beginning of the fall semester, joining around 100 sitting tenants who choose not to leave. Georgetown sells the building in 1996

Juvenile Justice Clinic is founded at the Law Center in September by Judith Areen

Georgetown Gospel Choir is founded

Jane Fonda and a number of other anti-Vietnam War activists, including Tom Hayden, speak in Gaston Hall on October 4

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




Bruce Springsteen performs in Gaston Hall on March 1

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

Edmund G. Ryan, S.J., the Executive Vice President for Educational Affairs, is dismissed by President Henle in a letter dated April 11, which cites irreconcilable differences. The dismissal sparks widespread protests on campus. The Board of Directors subsequently upholds the dismissal but prohibits the University President from any future firings of top administrators without their prior consent

Duke Ellington plays his last concert in his hometown of D.C. at Gaston Hall on February 10, three months before his death on May 24, 1974

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

New shuttle bus service run by the Georgetown University Transportation Society starts on September 4. All drivers are Georgetown students who have completed rigorous training.  There are three initial routes – to the Law Center, Alban Towers, and Arlington; the fare is 25 cents

Woodstock Center for Theological Reflection is established  by the Society of Jesus




Banner containing a racial slur directed against basketball coach John Thompson, II is briefly displayed in McDonough Gym during a home game. His players issue a strongly worded statement in support of him. The team goes on to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1943

Cabaret is held for the first time

Georgetown awards an honorary degree to Empress Farah Pahlavi of Iran on May 16. She is accompanying her husband, the Shah, on a state visit to the U.S. The ceremony draws  around 400 protestors

Women’s teams in lacrosse, swimming and crew are set up

Dahlgren Chapel renovations begin in the summer. The $325,000 project is undertaken to make the Chapel more conducive to contemporary liturgy and includes the replacement of pews with removable seating, the raising of the floor to make the entire Chapel one level, and the removal of overhead hanging lights. Dahlgren reopens on January 31, 1976

Center for Contemporary Arab Studies opens in the fall

Conan Lewis organizes the Black Alumni Association

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