"History of the Women at Miami"
Transcription of a Women's History Month presentation
Transcribed by Stacey Kimmel
Transcribed by Stacey Kimmel
A very special subject is the history of women at Miami, and it is a particularly meaningful subject, in this month in which we observe herstory. As a professor of history, as well as herstory, I'm pleased to make my contribution to the proceedings of Women's History month. Sometimes it comes as a surprise to students to appreciate that when this university was chartered, on the seventeenth day of February on 1809, it was chartered as a school for men only, there not being any schools of collegiate rank anywhere in the world at that time open to women, not one. So Miami was chartered as a school for men because that was tradition, that was the state of the art of higher education. Miami opened its doors to students in 1824 for the first time, and within a six year period the three members of the faculty--that's all we had in the late 1820's--each with daughters, believed there was a need for a school for young women in this community. Robert Hamilton Bishop was the president of the university; William Holmes McGuffey was the librarian and professor of ancient languages and literature; and John Witherspoon Scott was the professor of science. Scott's daughter Caroline would be born in a home at the corner of Campus and High Streets, where the Phi Delta Theta headquarters stands today. She eventually would become the First Lady of the land, wife of the the twenty-third President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.
These three professors sought to encourage the establishment of a women's school, and they prevailed on Miss Bethania Crocker to make the start. At that time schools for young women below the collegiate level were beginning to spring up in the East, such as the Emma Willard school in New York in the 1820's. Now finally here in the West there would be the Bethania Crocker School for Girls in Oxford. The first school for girls in Oxford was a one-room house on Main Street just south of High Street. It opened its doors in the fall of 1830 and would intermittently exist for the next sixteen years, 1830-1846, first as the Bethania Crocker School, or Miss Crocker's School, and then after 1839 as the Oxford Female Academy.
Bethania Crocker was the daughter of a missionary and minister. The Reverend Peter Crocker, out of Massachusetts, had come west to Indiana and settled in the tiny community just to the west of Oxford, in Bath, Indiana. Bath isn't even a wide place in the road. Darrtown, Collinsville, Summerville, all make Bath--well, we won't get into more dramatic descriptions. Let's say they look like big places compared to Bath. It was that way in the 1820's when the Crocker family moved to Bath. In Massachusetts the Reverend Crocker had been a Congregationalist, but when he came out West he became a Presbyterian. It had been agreed by the two principal Protestant denominations at that time, the Congregational and Presbyterian churches, not to compete but rather to assist each other in converting persons to Christianity. They had, in effect, divided the nation: the Congregationalists taking New England, and the Presbyterians taking the West--Ohio, Indiana, etc. It was called the "Plan of the Union of 1800," and it was still in effect when the Reverend Crocker came with his family to Indiana.
It was fortunate that the shift in denomination occurred, because Oxford was a stronghold of Presbyterianism at that point. All three members of the faculty were Presbyterians. The first seven presidents of this institution would be Presbyterian ministers. And indeed, I as the seventeenth president, was still in the minority. We have had a minority of lay presidents. Among the nineteen who have served the university, the majority have been clergyman, and of these all but one, Presbyterian.
Bethania Crocker, daughter of a Presbyterian minister, was prevailed upon by the Presbyterian faculty of Miami to establish a girl's school, and she did. And it remained under her principal-ship for four years until 1834, when, having met, fallen in love with, and then married Presbyterian Minister George Bishop, eldest son of Robert Hamilton Bishop, Bethania, as was the custom of the time, left her principal-ship and became wife and mother. There would follow a succession of other principals following the same formula. As they would marry they would leave the school, and then others would have to succeed to the leadership roles. That meant that over the period of years from 1830-1846 there were at least seven principals, never anyone serving long enough to really get the school well-established. In 1846 the school closed its doors.
There was no women's education in Oxford, then, for three years, until 1849, when there returned to Oxford from Cincinnati (from the Farmer's College in a suburb called North College Hill) our first professor of science, John Witherspoon Scott. He had come back to Oxford, having [previously] been dismissed by the trustees of this university. He was now charged with the task of establishing a college level institution for young women in this place. And in 1849, it was chartered in the name The Oxford Female Institute. Ultimately it would take the name The Oxford College for Women. We know this site today as Ox College or Oxford College Hall.
John Witherspoon Scott was also a minister of the First Presbyterian church in this community. Eventually there would be four Presbyterian churches in a community of a thousand people, simultaneously, and each would have its own college. One called the United Presbyterian would establish the Oxford Theological Seminary in what is still referred to as the Seminary, on what is still Church Street. Reverend Scott would establish Ox College associated with the First Presbyterian Church. In 1853, Reverend Daniel Tenney, having broken with the First Church over the question of the continuation of the "Plan of the Union" with the Congregationalists, with the support of others established a new female seminary called the Western, across the highway leading to Cincinnati. It would have the support, then, of the Second Church of Oxford. Within three years there would be a move for yet another women's school, identified as The Oxford Female College, supported by the Third Presbyterian Church of Oxford. Four collegiate institutions, supported by four Presbyterian churches, in this one-mile-square village called Oxford. Miami, nominally non-sectarian, was headed by a Presbyterian minister, and all of the faculty were Presbyterians. I cite this only to explain, why the multiplicity of schools in this one mile square, and why would there be three women's colleges? The one men's school, Miami, was balanced by the three women's colleges, established by three separate Presbyterian churches.
Oft times the question is asked, why is it called the "Western" College, when everyone knows it's on the east side of Oxford--on the east side of Miami, why the "Western"? Our first president, Dr. Bishop, was determined that Miami would be the Yale of the West. The Reverend Tenney and the Head-mistress Peabody of the Female Seminary had determined that Western would be the Mount Holyoke of the West. And in truth not only Miss Peabody, but all six other members of the Western faculty would be Mount Holyoke graduates. It would be the western branch of Mount Holyoke. You had then in the little mile square of Oxford a theological seminary, a school for men, and three women's colleges in place before the American Civil War.
In that war a young lady of Oxford distinguished herself as one of the war's principal espionage agents. If we focus first our attention on Bethania Crocker, certainly in this regression of the history of women in this small place, we must focus attention on Charlotte "Lottie" Moon. Charlotte, nicknamed Lottie, was one of three sisters and two brothers in the Moon family. They lived adjacent to the Miami campus, initially in the home that was occupied until last year by the Beta Theta Pi headquarters. Then they moved several doors down east on High Street to what is still called the Lottie Moon house, on the corner of University and High, across the street from the guest cottage of this university.
Let's simply say Lottie Moon, her sisters, and her two brothers, with Virginia and Tennessee in their backgrounds, along with their parents remained loyal to the South when the split came in 1861 between North and South and the Civil War erupted. Both Moon boys would serve in the Confederate armed forces, one in the navy, one in the army. One of Lottie Moon's sisters, like Lottie, would serve as an espionage agent, but only Lottie would really reach top stature as the skilled Mata Hari of her generation.
For me there are two favorite memories of Lottie during the war. The first came in October, 1862, when Lottie attended a meeting of espionage agents in Toronto, Canada for gathering of information. Lottie then returned to the States. Meaning to get to the Confederacy, she presented herself in Washington, D.C., at the Office of the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. She told the Secretary that she was an English noble-woman, that her name was the Lady Hull, who had come all the way from Britain to take baths in the warm waters of Virginia, only to find there was a war on. How could she possibly get to the other side of the front lines to get into those warm waters to treat her ailing joints, to get relief from the rheumatism and the arthritis which so badly crippled her? The Secretary, totally persuaded that Lottie was what she presented herself to be, felt compassion. He told Lottie that it just so happened that President Lincoln himself was going the next day to inspect the troops in the front lines, just to the east of Richmond. She could ride in the President's personal carriage with Abraham Lincoln, down to the lines. He would even give her a note to assure safe passage through the lines and on to the warm springs of Virginia for treatment.
The next day, there was Oxford's Lottie Moon seated next to the President of the United States, riding in the latter's personal carriage, and across from her the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton. As the carriage rumbled on through the hills of northern Virginia, Lady Hull, exhausted from her long trip over to this new world, fell asleep, or so it seemed. As she dozed on, with audible sounds of slumber periodically escaping from her lips, the President and the Secretary of War began to become less and less discreet in their comments about what needed to be done in the war in the next few weeks. Before long they were divulging the most confidential information, and there was Lottie Moon absorbing it all as she feigned slumber. They arrived at the front lines, and Lottie, with the note, passed on through to see Jefferson Davis himself. She delivered to the South the important information, which for months thereafter cost the North dearly in terms of actions that were anticipated by Confederate troops even before they occurred, resulting in defeat after defeat for Northern troops. It was because of this that Stanton and Lincoln finally agreed that they'd been duped--that Lady Hull had been in fact a Confederate agent, and they came to know that she was Lottie Moon. Secretary Stanton himself put a price of $10,000 on her head, dead or alive.
The scene shifts. I'll not go into detail. I'll simply say that when Lottie Moon was growing up she had a score or more of suitors in this small place. She really wanted to marry James Clark, a fellow Virginian and Miami graduate who had gone into a career in law and [who] was somewhat older than the rest. She finally agreed to marry a younger man closer to her age, Lieutenant Ambrose Burnside of Liberty, Indiana. Lieutenant Burnside and Lottie set the date for the wedding, June 21, 1848. This was some years before the war. On that day, before a full assemblage in the church, when the minister asked Ambrose if he would take Lottie to be his wife, he nodded and said he would. [The minister] turned to Charlotte, Lottie, and asked if she would take Ambrose to be her husband. She looked at the tall young lieutenant beside her, shook her head defiantly side to side, and said "No, Sir-eee Bob, I won't!" There at the alter she had changed her mind. She really wanted James Clark, not Ambrose Burnside.
The scene shifts to April, 1863. In those fifteen years Lottie had married James Clark, and now she was Lottie Moon Clark, engaged in espionage against the North. In April, 1863 she made her way to Cincinnati hoping to cross the river into Kentucky, disguised now as an Irish scrubwoman. She was bound, she said, for Lexington, to visit her boy who had been injured in combat and needed a mother's love. A young private, standing his first watch, said he did not have authority to let her through. She asked who did, and he said, "The general." Said Lottie, "Take me to the general." The private did. They went up the stairs to an office on the second floor. They knocked on the door, and a voice called out, "Come in." In they walked to behold, seated behind the desk in general's stars, Ambrose E. Burnside. He was now in command of the defense of southern Ohio, southeastern Indiana, and northern Kentucky. She could be Lady Hull, using words in the best English, and no interruption. But now, as an Irish scrubwoman, the Irish dialect left her as she tried to tell the general why she needed a pass to see her wounded son in the hospital in Lexington. After several false starts General Burnside recognized who he was confronting. He said, "Lottie, I know who you are." Despite her protestations he insisted he knew who she was, and finally she agreed. Yes, she was Lottie. The general could have had her shot or hung, but there was still a spark. He agreed instead to place her under house arrest at the Burnet house in Cincinnati if she would forgo any further espionage service for the South in the remainder of the war. She agreed, and she lived out the war in Cincinnati under house arrest. We still have, across the street from this campus, the Lottie Moon House, attesting that one of the South's three foremost spies of the Civil War called Oxford home.
The war came to an end in 1865. When the war started there were 516 colleges. When it was over, 412 of the 516 had closed. Only 104 survived, and most of those that closed were the all-men schools. Their students had been drained off by the war, and many did not return. Bills kept coming in when there were no more students to provide the fees that would pay them. This university struggled until 1873, when it too finally joined the rest, and the lights went out. Old Miami had come to a close.
But the women's schools in Oxford did not close. Two of them did effect a merger in 1867. The Oxford Female College (located in the northeastern corner of Oxford on the site of the present day Marcum Conference Center), which was then supported by the Third Presbyterian Church, and the Oxford Female Institute, that which we now call Ox College, merged in 1867. They used for a time the building of the Oxford Female College. The building of the Oxford Female Institute became briefly a United Presbyterian academy.
In 1871, over in the Oxford Female College, a commencement was held that spring addressed by leading students, as was customary, in individual orations to prove that collegiate experience had been beneficial in terms of poise, diction, and enunciation--their capacity, in effect, to stand on their feet and espouse whatever cause [they chose]. One among these was a little slip of a lass named Jennifer Brooks, Jenny Brooks. Anticipating that there could be some interruptions, the trustees of the school had kindly asked in the program for the audience not to applaud. Jenny Brooks had as her topic, "Our Tyrant -- Man!" Jenny warmed to her topic, and as she did, the other students of the Female College could not help but applaud frequently and enthusiastically. Miss Jenny had made her mark. We'll come back to Miss Jenny in just a little bit.
Two years after that commencement, Old Miami held its last commencement, closing its doors in June of 1873. Miami would be closed for the next dozen years till 1885. It was a fortunate college. Most of the others that closed never reopened, but Miami did. After twelve years aggregating gifts from philanthropic alumni and former students, together with income from the college township in which the campus was located (this was annual quit rent income from the land), and finally with a promise of state support (the first in the history of the school), Miami was able to open its doors in 1885 once again.
The period that would follow we call New Miami. And when it reopened the question that immediately came to the fore was, should Miami continue to be a school for men only? The only schools that had not closed in Oxford had been the women's colleges. Would it now be better for Miami to be coeducational? Sharp division immediately presented itself. On the one side was the last president of Old Miami, Andrew D. Hepburn, son-in-law of William Holmes McGuffey. Professor Hepburn, who had gone down to Davidson College after the war to be a professor and then president, had come back to be on our faculty as a professor of English. In effect, Professor Hepburn said "over my dead body there will be women admitted to Miami." On the other side of the coin was Robert White McFarland, the first president of New Miami. After the war, in which he had served as a colonel in charge of a regiment of Miami troops, he had gone up the road to the new school in Columbus, the Ohio A&M, later to be called the Ohio State University. McFarland said the time had come to get on with it, "let's admit women to Miami." Indeed, his own daughter Francis "Fannie" McFarland was approaching college age. The feud between McFarland and Hepburn finally erupted in the open. The trustees, pronouncing a plague on both of them and their followers, asked the faculty in its entirety to submit their resignations.
There would be a new beginning for New Miami three years after the formal beginning of 1885. With all of the resignations in, a man by the name of Ethelbert Dudley Warfield was employed to be the new president. By the time President Warfield came, a start in coeducation had been made. In the last year of the McFarland presidency, in October, 1887, his daughter Francis "Fannie" McFarland was admitted as the first woman student. And a week later followed her friend, Daisy McCullough, who lived in a home on High Street. Our hospital in town today bears her name, the McCullough-Hyde Hospital. Francis "Fannie" McFarland and Daisy McCullough were admitted as students in October 1887. For long years, I supposed it was Ella McSurely who had been that first women student admitted. Indeed Ella, when she worked in our library well into the twentieth century, did not deny it when statements were made that she had been the first woman student. She was among the first, but in fact she was preceded by others a year before. Be that as it may, the break was made. We had become coeducational.
Coeducation had had its beginning in Ohio at a place called Oberlin in 1833. Oberlin, too, had been one of those institutions that had not closed after the Civil War. The lesson of coeducation presented by Oberlin was learned by Miami. Interestingly, after the first women were admitted at Miami, the fight to keep Miami from adding more was led by the women's colleges, who thought they saw the handwriting on the wall. Once Miami became coeducational it would be inevitable, they believed, that the "reason for being" of the separate female institutions would be over. And indeed, their fears would be realized in the new century, as first Oxford College in 1928, and more recently, the Western, in 1974, would close.
When the first women were admitted in 1887, the handwriting was on the wall. When President Warfield arrived, most of the other faculty had already left the campus. The only exception was Dr. Hepburn, who had been permitted by the trustees to return to his chair in English. A whole new faculty, most of them from out of the East, from Princeton, Yale, Amherst, and MIT, enthusiastically pressed on with the cause of coeducation. But the curriculum was not right at that time for very many women to be attracted to Miami. Our curriculum was classical, heavily oriented to the classical literature and languages. We were out of the Oxford and Cambridge tradition in Old England, and the Harvard and Yale tradition in New England.
Through the 1890's and into the first couple of years of this century, the number of women, even with the support of the president and faculty, did not grow rapidly. At no point in the 1890's did we have more than sixteen women on campus in an enrollment of about 200. A major breakthrough for women at Miami came in the year 1902, in March, with the enactment by the General Assembly of a bill authored by Representative Charles Seese of Akron. The bill authorized Miami and Ohio universities to establish new divisions for the professional preparation of teachers, divisions to be called Ohio State Normal Colleges, at Ohio University and at Miami University. Today note that the successor's name is the School of Education and Allied Professions on this campus. With the coming of the Normal Colleges at Athens and at Oxford there would come significant numbers of women to each place. We'd never had more than sixteen women in the traditional classical curriculum of the nineteenth century. In the fall of 1902, we had seventy. By 1911, at the close of the administration that began in 1902, the administration of Guy Potter Benton, we would have 330 women out of an enrollment which then aggregated some 700. Almost half of our students by 1911 were women. Think for a moment of the changes that occurred because of this. In 1902, with seventy women, a sorority was established. Already the university was being called the "mother of fraternities." Now it was also the mother of a women's fraternity--or sorority--Delta Zeta.
Then in 1905 the trustees voted to erect the first women's residence hall. We had two residence halls for men--old timers will recognize them by the names Elliot and Stoddard--but none for women. In 1905 a women's residence was built. The trustees, determined to recognize the past service of the former president, mistakenly, inappropriately, determined to call the new residence hall Hepburn, honoring the ardent foe of coeducation, Andrew Hepburn.
Students of my Miami University classes have heard this story, and I'll repeat it. In the fall of 1968 my wife and I were eating at Lewis Place, the president's home, when there was a pounding on our door. We went to the door, and two Miami women were standing there, saying "Dr. Shriver, come quickly!" The workman demolishing old Hepburn Hall had just smashed open a copper box embedded in its cornerstone, and the contents of the box were all over the ground. They rushed off, I following as fast as I could ,which was not very fast, onto the site.
The old building stood so close to King Library that to put the front porch onto King Library they had to take the back porch off of Old Hepburn. That was what was happening at that point; the building was in the process of demolition. Well, I looked on the ground when I got there, and there were the coins of the Realm, there was a catalog of 1905, an Oxford village newspaper. Things you'd expect to see. There was a little black notebook bearing the name Delta Zeta and in it all of the names of the first student members of that first Miami sorority. Their colors, old rose and green in ribbons, were coming from the notebook. And there beside the notebook was an envelope, and on the envelope a signature in the handwriting of Andrew Hepburn, the one for whom the hall was named. I could barely contain my excitement as I opened that envelope, thinking at long last I was going to get Dr. Hepburn's reaction to the great honor which had come to him when the trustees had voted to name the first women's residence hall in his honor.
I opened it to find three pages inside. I looked at the first page-- blank. Come on, Dr. Hepburn, you'd been asked to put a letter in the cornerstone for posterity telling future generations what you thought about this significant honor and you left the first page blank? Well, I thought to myself, he probably put it there to preserve and protect the other two pages. So I turned that first one over and looked at the second. It was blank. Come on, Dr. Hepburn, two out of three pages, with nothing written on them! Well, you've saved it all for the last. I turned the second page over and looked at the third. Oh, no. Blank. The old codger couldn't think of a single good thing to say about this great honor of having the first women's dormitory named Hepburn Hall in his honor, and so he had said nothing, and I realized at that point he'd said it all. Well, we finally had a women's residence hall misnamed Hepburn. Later there'd be another Hepburn Hall in the north quad, appropriately named Hepburn, for men. No problem with that.
There were some other changes in 1905. We got our first dean who was a woman, Elizabeth Hamilton, a graduate of Oxford College and organist at the Presbyterian church uptown. Dean Elizabeth Hamilton would serve this university for 40 years, until her retirement in 1945. That same year, 1905, the town came to a crossroads over the issue of prohibition. Should there be the lawful sale of intoxicants in Oxford now that Miami University was coeducational and significant numbers of women were coming to the school? For a long time the Methodist church, the United Presbyterian Church, and the Oxford Presbyterian Church, which had united the former First, Second, and Third churches, had urged their members to vote dry. In [Oxford's] local option contest in 1905, the town voted to become dry. And for the next seventy-five years, the sale of intoxicating beverages (meaning more than 3.2% alcoholic content) was forbidden in the town of Oxford.
Not until 1980 would the local prohibition finally end. As one who has lived in Oxford for thirty-one years, on both sides of that vote, I can say that Oxford is a different place today. It is a different place and I'm not going to say it's different for the better. There was honest belief that with women now in town in numbers, Oxford needed to assure their security, that most offenses at that time were committed by those under the influence of alcohol. They honestly believed that only through prohibition could there be protection of a university community that was meaningfully and significantly coeducational.
That was 1905. The years have gone on since then. Enrollment has obviously surged, again and again, even though briefly in a Master Plan in the 1920's we thought we could hold the school to no more than 5,000 total enrollment by the year 2023, permitting a leisurely, orderly growth to that level. However, we were at 3,000 by Pearl Harbor, and with returning G.I.s after the war we were at an enrollment of 5,000 by 1950. When I came as president we were almost 10,000, and today we are almost 16,000 here on the Oxford campus. And we've seen in this explosion of enrollment that the numbers of women at Miami have particularly increased, until today the majority of our students are women--something more than half, about 56%. In the same period of time, with Miami becoming meaningfully coeducational, we became meaningfully co-racial. Our first African-American students were admitted when the School of Education was established in 1902. Our first African-American students were teacher candidates: Nellie Craig in 1902, and Lametta Granger in 1903. And as had been predicted, as Miami grew and became meaningfully coeducational, the reasons for the separate existence of the other colleges disappeared. Oxford College closed its doors in 1928, and Western, in 1974.
We witness here in the twentieth century a number of names that we should pause to give further consideration to, and again I turn to Miss Jenny Brooks, who gave that commencement oration on "Our Tyrant --Man!" In 1923 Miss Jenny figured, again, prominently in Oxford affairs. Miss Jenny had made her home in Oxford after graduation. Her father was head of a preparatory school in Cincinnati, a headmaster. Miss Jenny was a poet, a writer, and she found Oxford a delightful place in which to live. She wrote a little book of poetry and prose, Under Oxford Trees, copies of which are in our libraries on campus and uptown. It was Oxford trees which brought her into focus sharply in 1923, in consequence of a bequest made to the university by one Laura Ogden Whaling, of funds sufficient to erect a residence hall which she asked to be named in honor of her brother, George C. Ogden, Miami Class of 1863. Her will specified that Ogden Hall must be located west of the gymnasium called the Herron Gym at that time. Herron Gym was situated where Ogden Hall is today--exactly on that site. It had been Laura Ogden Whaling's intent to have the hall west of that site, directly across the street from Lewis Place, the home of the president. But the president and the trustees didn't want to have a building right across the street. They wanted the green space on both sides of slant walk. What to do? Conclusion: move the building, the gym, and put Ogden Hall where the gym had been, so that the bequest could be honored by having Ogden Hall west of the gym and the gym relocated some 400 feet down the road, to a site that today I'll identify only as the parking lot adjacent to Roudebush Hall. But to move the building would involve the cutting of two dozen giant forest trees.
Miss Jenny was not about to remain quiet with two dozen magnificent trees, there when the campus came into being, having to be cut, demolished, in order to permit the moving of a building to a new location. On the day the woodmen arrived to cut down the trees, Miss Jenny took her position, arms behind her around the trunk of the first tree. There she stood, about ninety- seven pounds soaking wet, not quite five feet in stature, and she told the woodmen, "You're going to have to cut me first." Well, the woodmen put down their axes. They weren't about to cut Miss Jenny in half. What to do? Well, they sized her up, she wasn't very big, and with one on each side, they took position and they lifted her by her elbows, moved her to a neutral spot and put her down. There she remained, defiantly as they resumed their work and began to cut the trees. She had made her point. We call Jenny Brooks, "Oxford's first environmentalist." And ever since, the university has painstakingly attempted to locate buildings where trees can be preserved, and not cut down. Her influence continues to the present. Even though she lost the battle of 1923, she won the war for the environment for the rest of the century.
There are others one could cite. I tip my hat to Rita Dove, class of 1973, Miami's first Pulitzer prize winner, an African-American student who after graduation took graduate work abroad in Europe and returned to assume university positions in Arizona, then Virginia. A book of verse honoring her grandparents won the Pulitzer Prize in 1987, and a half dozen years later, here in the 1990's, she was named America's Poet Laureate.
And salutes to a number of others. For a school that began as a school for men only, think about these things and reflect on the fact that our president -- acting, yes -- but our president is Anne Hopkins. The Chair of our Board of Trustees is Sister Jean Patrice Harrington. President of the student body is Erin O'Donnell. The editor of the Miami Student is Jennifer Markiewicz, or was the last time I noted. I'm impressed with what has been accomplished and what is in the process of being accomplished. I'd even note that the Chancellor of the Ohio Board of Regents is Elaine Harrison. Think on these things, and appreciate that the record is an impressive one and it's still in process. The history of women at Miami isn't as old as the history of the university itself, but in that period of time in which there is a history of women at Miami, the accomplishments have been major. Herstory, 1996.
Questions from the Audience
1. Why don't we have sorority houses?
This question has been asked many times. Many institutions do. The record in those places of the successful operation of those houses has not been altogether good. Over time, for whatever reason, when push comes to shove, fraternity houses seemed to be able to get the funds to continue and sorority houses seemed not as able. I'll not go into all the explanations of that. When this institution has grappled with that question we would always be confronted with, let's talk to Ohio Wesleyan and other places that have had a long history of sorority housing off-campus. Out of those places would come recommendations that the university provide on-campus quarters at very nominal rates and not put to the test the capacity of our young women to finance, over a long period of time, off-campus housing. We talked seriously about a panhellenic building back in the 1970's when we had our first woman chair of the Board, Mrs. Lucille Crowell-Cooks. We got all excited about it, had an architect at work. Then the question was raised, what happens on those weekends when every sorority has a program, and only one panhellenic building with one living room, one dining room, etc., and eighteen sororities all ask for the use of the facility. The panhellenic building never got off the ground. I'm not going to say it wont happen, it may. As our women become more and more able to make longer term commitments financially, it could happen. But the record even of some of the fraternities where those long term commitments were made and there was an expectation that there would be no problem-- even some of them have been having problems in recent years.