The accomplishments of Franklin & Marshall women, as both students and faculty on campus and in the local and global community, have created a significant legacy for the decades ahead.
Since its inception, Franklin & Marshall College has been associated with coeducational instruction. Unknown to many modern alumni, approximately one-third of the first class of Franklin College consisted of female students. Among them was Richea Gratz (1774-1858), the first Jewish female student at Franklin College and perhaps the first female Jewish "college" student in the United States. It is important to note that Franklin College was more of a secondary school at this time, with students generally in their early teens. When Franklin College and Marshall College agreed to merge in 1852, the new institution was officially deemed all-male.
Believed to be the first female instructor at Franklin & Marshall College, Minnie Morgan taught Elocution in the College Building (Old Main), also known as Recitation Hall from 1893-1896. She later married F&M Sociology and Political Science Professor Anselm V. Hiester.
Post-WWII changes brought the first female faculty members to F&M since the 1890s. Among the first were instructors Luella Frank (German) and Nancy Honaman (Economics). However, the first female professor was Dorothy Wenger Lefevre (left), appointed assistant professor in 1949. She joined Franklin & Marshall College in 1945 as a counselor, and remained affiliated with the Department of Education until 1985. From 1965 to 1968, she served as the first female chair of an academic department at the college.
Ruth Warner Van Horn received her Ph.D. in chemistry from Penn State University in 1944 and worked for several years at American Cyanamid, where she acquired three scientific patents. She rose through the ranks to Assistant Professor in 1952, Associate Professor in 1956, and Full Professor in 1964. As an integral member of the college faculty, Van Horn assumed governance roles including department chair and membership on the Professional Standards Committee, College Senate, Task Force on Coeducation, and Committee on Minority and Women's Affairs. Women's Sports
After becoming coeducational in 1969, the College made alterations to parts of Marshall-Buchanan Hall and Atlee House (within Benjamin Franklin Residence Hall) to accommodate women. Additional personnel were also hired to meet the needs of women including Associate Dean of Students Jo Ann Whitsett and Instructor of Physical Education Meredith Lee Dean.
Mary Zimmerman Atlee served as the first female member of the Franklin & Marshall College Board of Trustees from 1970 to 1980. A Lancaster native, she was an active member of the local community, serving on numerous boards and foundations. During her tenure with the Board of Trustees, she served on the North Museum Board, and the College Center Planning Committee. At the college’s May 1995 commencement, she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters for her service to the College and greater Lancaster community.
The first organized women’s sports began in 1971 as club sports. These included basketball, field hockey, gymnastics, swimming and tennis. With the passing of Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 (now known as the Patsy T. Mink Equal Opportunity in Education Act), the first intercollegiate women’s varsity sports emerged. At Franklin & Marshall College, these included volleyball, tennis, swimming and squash.
Read a recent interview with her in the Franklin & Marshall Magazine article Four Decades and Counting.
Susanne Woods served as the first female Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College from 1991 to 1995. She had previously served as associate dean of the faculty at Brown University.
Alice Drum became the first female vice president of the College in 1994. After beginning her academic career at Hood College, she joined Franklin & Marshall College as dean of freshmen in 1985. From 1988 to 1994 she served as vice president and dean for educational services. In 1994, she assumed the position of Vice President of the College, and served in this capacity for seven years. In 2001 she retired from her administrative position, and has remained an active professor and mentor.
Doreen Boyce served as the first female Chair of the Board of Trustees from 1999 to 2004. A graduate of the University of Oxford, she holds a Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh. Boyce was president of the Pittsburgh-based Buhl Foundation, an institution that promotes educational advancement and social science research in western Pennsylvania.
The Patricia E. Harris ‘77 Center for Business, Government & Public Policy is slated to open in fall 2009. The Harris Center will house the Business, Organizations & Society and Government departments, as well as Information Technology Services and the Floyd Institute for Public Policy. A Government major, Patti Harris is the first deputy mayor of the City of New York and a trustee of Franklin & Marshall College.