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by Pamela Dean 











Pamela Dean 

Women's Studies Program 

University of North Carolina 

at Chapel Hill 

Printed on the occasion of the Dedication of the 

Katherine Kennedy Carmichael Residence Hall 

November 5, 6 and 7, 1987 

Division of Student Affairs 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 




Pamela Dean 

Women's Studies Program 

University of North Carolina 

at Chapel Hill 

Printed on the occasion of the Dedication of the 

Katherine Kennedy Carmichael Residence Hall 

November 5, 6 and 7, 1987 

Division of Student Affairs 
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Katherine Kennedy Carmichael 




By Pamela Dean 
[Author's Preface] 

Fifteen years ago, on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the first admission 
of women to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gladys Hall Coates published 
a lively and meticulously researched article on the history of the University as a coeduca- 
tional institution. Coates, who has a long history of participation in the life of this institu- 
tion, provided us with our first look at the role of women at UNC. Ninety years after 
the first coed enrolled, the University has chosen to honor another distinguished Carolina 
woman, Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, who served as Dean of Women for twenty-six 
years. At such a time, it is appropriate to retell the story, to build on Coates's excellent 
foundation, and to bring the account up to date. 

In addition to Coates I would like to thank Mary Turner Lane, Gillian Cell, Margaret 
O'Connor, and Michael Martin for sharing with me both their experiences and their insights 
into the changing position of women in the University, and Guion Griffis Johnson and 
Norma Connell Berryhill for permission to quote from their interviews in the Southern 
Historical Collection. The terms "Ladies of the Hill" and "Carolina Coed," with which 
I have labeled two of the three periods in the history of women at UNC, are taken from 
Mary Turner Lane's, "The University in Transition: The Female Presence!' [Alumni Review, 
73:l(1984):4-6, 16-22], although my periodization differs from hers* 

I would also like to thank Jane DeHart-Mathews for suggesting I take on this project, 
Donald Boulton and the University for giving me the opportunity to do so, and Donald 
G. Mathews for his generous encouragement and guidance. 

•In addition to Lane and Coates, "The Coming of Women to the University of North Carolina," in By Her Own 
Bootstraps, Albert Coates, (1975), other secondary sources used in this paper include Angela Lumpkin, "Women's 
Physical Activity at the First State University: an Uphill Struggle;' presented at the NAPSE History of Sport Aca- 
demy, 1978; Margaret Morrison, "Role Perceptions of Senior Women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel 
Hill Based on a Questionnaire issued in 1958 and 19721' MA thesis, UNC, 1972; Betty M. Smith, "A Study of 
the Backgrounds, Interests, Achievements, Academic-Vocational Programs, Post-Graduate Plans, and Vocational 
Choices of the Undergraduate Women Completing Degree Requirements for Graduation in June 1949 at the Univer- 
sity of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.;' MA Thesis, UNC, 1950. All other material is from the North Carolina 
Collection, the Alumni Association Archives, and the University Archives. Sources include the Daily Tar Heel, 
the Yakety Yacks, the Handbooks for Women Students; the Alumni Review, the Dean of Women's papers, the 
Dean of Student Affairs papers, interviews by the author cited above, in the author's possession, and additional 
interviews from the Southern Oral History Collection, in the Southern Historical Collection. 


The University of North Carolina was a men's college when it was founded; in 1795 
there was no other kind. Women might be educated, but not at a University. Higher educa- 
tion was intended to train the leaders of the new republic, and the public world of politics 
and business in which these college men would move was no place for frail and gentle 
women. Their sphere was limited to the home and their education to domestic arts and 
the modicum of reading, writing, and arithmetic they needed to become good wives and 
mothers, to read the Bible, keep household accounts, and raise their children to be good 
citizens. Nonetheless, women have been involved with Carolina from the beginning. Mary 
Leach Spaight, wife of the Governor of North Carolina, attended the first public examina- 
tion, suggesting by her presence that the public for which those examinations were held 
and to which educated young men were accountable included the women of the state. 
In 1802 the women of Raleigh contributed a pair of globes and a compass and the following 
year the women of New Bern donated a quadrant. Most important, through her tireless 
fund raising and lobbying of state officials and other prominent North Carolinians, Cornelia 
Phillips Spencer almost single-handedly brought about the resurrection of the college 
after the Civil War. North Carolina women have given the University wholehearted support 
during its entire lifetime. In return the institution welcomed them to commencements, 
dances, and other public occasions. But for more than one hundred years the University 
did not welcome women as students. 

That story — the story of Carolina women as students — began on a summer day in 1897 
when Mary McRae, daughter of the dean of the law school, was crossing the Chapel 
Hill campus and met Carolina president Edwin Alderman. The preceding winter Alderman 
had persuaded the University to admit women to advanced classes. Now he asked McRae 
if she wouldn't let "Mary" be the first name on the roll of women at the University. 
She agreed and with her enrollment, and that of her four classmates, an important chapter 
in higher education for southern women began. For the first time, North Carolina women 
did not have to leave their home state to obtain a degree equal to that available to men, 
and even to women nearly everywhere outside the South. 

More than thirty years earlier Vassar College had begun to offer women a full four 
year liberal arts program modeled on the best of the northeastern men's schools. Such 
opportunities expanded throughout the remaining decades of the nineteenth century with 
the founding of the rest of the Seven Sisters and the growth of coeducational colleges 
and universities, especially in the Mid- and Far West. This growing reliance on coeducation 
was due in part to the relative poverty of these new states. They had neither the population 
nor the financial resources to support two single sex schools. But even private colleges, 
such as Cornell (1865), Boston University (1870), and Stanford (1892), which were not 
noted for their lack of funds, opened their doors to women as well as men. As early 
as 1870, coed institutions outnumbered women's schools by more than two to one. 

The pattern in the South was quite different. In spite of the similar demand for educated 
women to teach in the expanding school systems, in spite of equally restricted finances, 
most southern schools were single sex. Southerners were not entirely opposed to educating 
women; there were scores of schools calling themselves women's colleges and offering 
a bewildering variety of degrees. But they were almost without exception junior colleges 
at best; many were little more than finishing schools. Not until the twentieth century 
would one of them offer a baccalaureate degree recognized as such by educators in either 
the North or the South. Southern women continued to receive an education separate 
from and inferior to that offered their brothers because it was widely accepted that it 

was neither necessary nor desirable to provide them with more. True higher education 
might unfit them for their roles as wives, mothers, and ladies. It could make them dissatisfied 
with their place in society; even worse, the strain of studying might literally make them 
sterile (by drawing the blood from the reproductive organs to the brain) or drive them 
crazy. These concerns, common in the nineteenth century, lingered in the South even after 
northern college women began to prove that at least some females were quite capable 
of meeting the standards set by the male college curriculum. 

Such attitudes, coupled with the chronic lack of trained teachers that afflicted the South 
in the post-war years, insured that southern women seldom came to college ready to do 
college level work. As a result, women's colleges had to devote a significant part of their 
resources to preparatory departments. In 1910, for instance, at Meredith College more 
than four-fifths of the student body were doing secondary-level work. But Meredith and 
its sister colleges had few resources to spare. They often lacked the funds — more readily 
available to men's institutions — to support the libraries, laboratories, and faculty that 
would allow them to provide students with a first class* education. By 1911 only four of 
the more than 140 southern women's schools were accredited by the Association of Colleges 
of the Southern States. These were Agnes Scott in Georgia, Goucher in Maryland, 
Randolph-Macon in Virginia, and Sophie Newcomb in Louisiana. North Carolina women 
seeking a full college education went to one of these schools or went North. The latter 
was not an option many parents were willing, or financially able, to consider. The only 
other choice was to begin at a women's school and then transfer to one of the handful 
of state institutions that in the late 1890s finally begin to admit a few women in the upper 
division and graduate levels. 

When Mary McRae and her classmates, Lulie Watkins, Cecye Roanne Dodd, Dixie 
Lee Bryant, and Sallie Walker Stockard, signed up as UNC's first coeds, they were reaching 
for something that was unavailable to most of their southern sisters. At the same time 
they were part of a nationwide trend that would help change the roles of women and 
irreversibly alter their society and culture. 

Anomaly: Ladies on the Hill: 1897-1930 

Women on the Chapel Hill campus were not a totally new phenomenon. In the nineteenth 
century faculty daughters such as Cornelia Phillips, daughter of James Phillips, and Ellen 
and Margaret Mitchell, daughters of Elisha Mitchell, sometimes visited classes and sat 
in on lectures. Student William Sidney Mullins recorded several such visits in his diary 
in 1841. "The Ladies of the Hill. . .attended our lecture on Wednesday morning, and 
it is useless to add the interest of the proceedings [was] greatly enhanced . . .The Lecture 
was not very interesting, however, and my eyes were on the fair faces oftener than on 
the experiments." Nonetheless, as Gladys Coates observed, such visits were not common. 
"Women were so rare on campus in those days that when any were unexpectedly glimpsed, 
the cry would reverberate through the dormitories— Angels on campus!' This was a real 
note of warning which, I suspect, had even more meaning in later years when the first 
baths on campus, and the only baths for several years, were installed in the basement 
of the library — the building now known as Playmakers Theatre. Men in varying degrees 
of casual attire would cross the campus to and from the baths; Angels on campus' was 
then sometimes, no doubt, a frantic cry of warning!" 

Such phrases suggested exotic invaders, ladies in a place where ladies usually had no 
reason to be; it is not surprising that when they attended lectures they were often relegated 
to an anteroom so as not to distract the young men like Mullins. The segregation reinforced 
the idea that women were not really supposed to be "on the hill!' Women should have 
become less anomalous when the summer normal school opened in 1877 with an enrollment 
that was nearly fifty percent female. But it shut down in 1884 and they were still exotic 
intruders when, in January of 1897, President Alderman, a progressive administrator, 
convinced the Board of Trustees to adopt the latest innovation in higher education and 
admit women to post-graduate courses. Nonetheless, the reservations of the trustees were 
reflected in their defeat of a proposal that "all the educational advantages of the university 
be opened to female pupils" and in the observation of the visiting committee that the 
doors of the university had been opened to women "to satisfy their demand, and . . .'to 
silence envious tongues! " 

President Alderman, recognizing that none of the women's colleges actually prepared 
students for graduate work, interpreted the trustees' resolution broadly to mean junior 
and senior level courses. Thus most women came to complete their education begun at 
other schools such as Meredith, Salem, Guilford, St. Mary's or what was then the State 
Normal and Industrial College at Greensboro (later North Carolina Women's College 
and now UNC Greensboro). As such they were still visitors, part of a world beyond the 
"hill" and therefore not a substantial part of the life of the University or the world which 
the university represented. 

Many would slip into the life of the "hill" for a year or two and then teach for awhile 
before marrying. Mary McRae, a St. Mary's girl, taught Latin until her marriage in 1900 
to Raleigh Times editor Robert Gray. Her classmate Lulie Watkins, who had been educated 
at home by her father, took math courses for a year, then taught at Peace College until 
she too married. 

Others used Chapel Hill as only the beginning of a higher education. Dixie Lee Bryant 
(BS MIT 1891), who was also recruited for that first class by Alderman, had taught at 
the Normal College at Greensboro for nine years before coming to Chapel Hill. She then 
left for Germany to pursue a PhD. Guilford graduate Sallie Stockard received the first 
degree granted by UNC to a woman in 1898. She stayed on for a masters degree in 1900 
and later received one from Columbia University as well. Susan Moses attended UNC 
1898 to 1901 before going to Cornell for her AB in 1902 and MA in 1903. 

Like Cecye Dodd, the fifth member of that first class, more than half of those who 
enrolled did not graduate. Some came to Chapel Hill because husbands or relatives were 
associated with the University. Some came for specific courses they needed to reach certain 
specific goals. Harriet Morehead Berry — who worked so hard for "Good Roads" that 
her name now graces a portion of Interstate 40 — attended classes at Carolina when she 
came to campus in 1901 to work for the state geological and economic survey, which 
was located in Old East. Her presence at UNC was not part of the mission of the Univer- 
sity — but of her own very individualized commitment. 

The pattern of women's participation in the University continued to be sporadic, tangen- 
tial, slightly eccentric — from the viewpoint of the men. In the first years at Chapel Hill, 
the women were very much aware that they were there only on sufferance. At first they 
were not included in the class pictures nor awarded their hard earned diplomas at gradua- 
tion. Instead they received them later in private. 

If college officials were so wary of women it is not surprising that male students should 
only think of them as a closely watched experiment. The women dressed carefully, in 
hat and gloves, and tried to slip unobtrusively into their classes. But as Mary Graves, 
class of 1906, wrote, they ran a "gauntlet of critical eyes!' It was "the most nerve-racking 

of all our experiences" she reported. "You always have a creepy feeling that your hat 
is on crooked, or that your hair is coming down!' She continued, "One of the most remark- 
able things about being a coed is the amount of room you take up. You start towards 
an empty seat on the end of a bench and by the time you get there the whole row is vacant!' 
She recommended buying a parasol for company. Cora Corpening, who became the first 
woman in the medical school in 1915, braved opposition from the all-male student body, 
who had voted against admitting her; she simply started going to class until she became 
"one of the boys" and was formally enrolled. In contrast to Sally Stockard who was not 
included in her graduating class's picture, Corpening was even given a place of honor 
in the Yackety Yack's medical school photo; she is the one in the middle, just behind 
the skeleton. 

Even after the novelty had worn off, male students still put their female colleagues 
at arm's length in a mixture of pride and amused condescension. In the descriptive para- 
graphs under the women's yearbook pictures, the Yackety Yack editors stressed that intelli- 
gence (noteworthy and duly noted) did not interefere with femininity. For example, "This 
little lady has most happily succeeded in combining the ability to make "ones" and "twos" 
[the highest grades] on math and Latin with the ability to make friends of both sexes!' 
When, as was frequently the case, the ages of the men were cited, all the women were 
coyly credited with being "16, approximately!' 

If their Chapel Hill experience was tangential to that of men, the ladies on the hill 
were a vanguard for women. The same year Cora Corpening entered the medical school, 
Harriet Berry's sister, Margaret Berry (Street), became the first woman to graduate from 
the law school. Unlike many pioneer college women who often remained single, she was 
able to combine her marriage with an active practice of the law. Kathrine Robinson (Eve- 
rett), class of 1920, did so as well, practicing in partnership with both her husband and 
son, and remaining active into her nineties. Others like Emilie Watts McVae (1900) went 
on to distinguished careers in education. As the first women in so many things affecting 
North Carolina and the University, they made it possible for other women to come after- 
wards. Some like McVae, who became president of Sweetbriar, made substantial contribu- 
tions as leaders of women's institutions. Others became active in community, state, and 
national affairs without benefit of institutional support. None was more active than Gladys 
Avery Tillet (1917), who worked for the woman suffrage and equal rights amendments 
in campaigns sixty years apart, sandwiching between the two a commitment to public 
life that should have shamed the men who voted against her in 1920 and the 1970s* 

The marginal and anomalous existence of the ladies on the hill was underscored by 
their living conditions. President Edward Kidder Graham attributed the small number 
of women in the University to the failure to provide dormitories for them. His understanding 
of the problem was undoubtedly furthered by his wife, Susan Moses, who had been one 
of the pioneering coeds. 

Many early students lived at home with their families or with faculty, as did Lulie 
Watkins who tutored Professor F. P. Venable's children in return for her room and board. 
Others lived in one of the few boarding houses that would take women at that time. Mrs. 
Sophia MacNider's small cottage was favored by the first class because of its convenient 
location across the street from campus, where the Franklin Street Post Office is now. Renting 
rooms in their homes was one of the few occupations open to genteel widows and like 
many others in this college town MacNider was able to educate her sons, Dr. William 
MacNider of the medical school and his brother Sam, on profits from her rooming house. 

♦North Carolina did not approve the Woman's Suffrage Amendment until the 1970s. During the same decade 
they defeated the Equal Rights Amendment three times. 

The question of housing was important because college was not just a place one went 
to acquire knowledge. It was an experience that helped to shape one's character. The 1897 
student handbook described the University as "a little world in itself, a sort of miniature 
state, where young men of all classes, conditions, faiths, temperaments and talents mingle 
freely together on terms of equality, breathe the atmosphere of liberal culture, and learn 
the lessons of self-reliance, of respect for the opinions of others and of love for truth!' 
And it was widely recognized that these broadening experiences were found outside the 
classroom as much as in it. Thus while women were technically getting college education, 
they were still being denied essential elements by virtue of their isolation from each other 
and those fellow students who could have provided the camaraderie which is so much 
a part of the college experience. President Graham, calling attention to the problem in 
1917, stated: "To continue to admit. . . [women] in the half-hearted way, and to furnish 
them with classroom instruction without the other features which make up college life, 
is a rather doubtful kindness to them." 

Two years later, Inez Koonce Stacy, widow of Dean Marvin Hendrix Stacy, was appointed 
women's advisor and from the beginning she took up Graham's theme; year after year 
in her annual reports she pleaded for adequate housing. "The students are scattered from 
one end of town to the other, and lose much valuable time going back and forth . . . .They 
have few comforts and in their social life none of the finer things which come from contact 
with one another!' 

By 1921 the University had begun to come around. It provided two houses on adjoining 
lots to accommodate about forty-five of the sixty-five women enrolled. This too was quite 
inadequate, Stacy charged, noting that one small sitting room with five chairs and a table 
were all that were provided for the reception of callers. That was not all that was lacking 
according to one resident, Norma Connell (Berryhill, 1925). Her story about Archer House 
not only reveals the inadequacy of the housing, but also illustrates a pattern typical of 
Carolina's relations with its women students. 

"My roommate and I lived in what had been the servants' quarters over the kitchen, 
where there was no heat, only a little pot-bellied stove. And to show you what it was 
like, in a very, very cold spell we had no wood [which the university was responsible for 
providing]. And we had to study that night, and the only place we could study was our 
rooms. So I told my roommate to put on her warmest, heaviest clothes and to tie up 
her head and come with me. Well, she was a very gentle soul and did just that. And we 
went out on the campus to pick up twigs . . .The campus wasn't as well kept as it is now, 
so little twigs were left on the ground for a while." The two women headed for the office 
of President Harry Woodburn Chase. "And this was about twilight, and Mr. Chase and 
his secretary, Claude Corrie, happened to be looking out the window. And Mr. Chase 
said to Mr. Corrie, 'What is that out there?' We looked like peasant women with our 
heads covered up. . .And Claude Corrie — he was a personal friend of mine — came out 
and was amazed to find that I was the person that looked like a peasant woman there picking 
up twigs. So he went back to Mr. Chase and told him what it was, that we had no wood 
and we were just getting what we could for our rooms. By the time we got back with 
our load of twigs, we found a load of wood arriving at Archer House to be taken up 
to our rooms!' This pattern, of benign neglect and female initiative, followed by university 
response, would be played out again and again. If Carolina was seldom hostile to women, 
it seldom gave them a high priority. 

Archer House burned down shortly after this, whether as a result of those little tin 
stoves is not clear, but with its loss, the need for a dormitory to house the women was 
even more apparent. With the support of President Chase, history professor Frank Porter 
Graham, alumnae, and the coeds themselves, Stacy continued her campaign. She wanted 

a woman's dorm to be called Spencer Hall, after Cornelia Phillips Spencer, that quintessen- 
tial lady of the hill and long-time supporter of the University, if not of coeducation. 

At the time Stacy's campaign shifted into high gear, women had begun to make a more 
visible place for themselves within the University. Although Mary McRae had served as 
literary editor for the Tar Heel and Sallie Stockard cast the deciding vote for senior class 
president, most early coeds had remained "outsiders" in Mary Graves' words. Asked on 
an alumni survey what her interests and activities had been, Julia Dameron (1908) replied 
with some asperity, "There were no interests or activities for women in 1908!" But by 
the early twenties a basketball team, two sororities, and the beginnings of student govern- 
ment for women, parallel to that for men, offered the coeds more scope. Women were 
also very active in the Carolina Playmakers from its inception in 1918, virtually dominating 
it in the early years to the extent that Thomas Wolfe was at first the only man involved. 
Yet these were all new organizations, most established specifically for women. They still 
had made no significant inroads into traditional campus institutions. 

By the early twenties, too, a few faculty members began to sponsor women students. 
Howard Odum recruited a number of them for his sociology department, including Norma 
Connell Berryhill, Harriet Herring (1928), and Katherine Jocher (PhD 1929). The latter 
two would be among the first women on the UNC faculty. Odum took a serious interest 
in his students, providing scholarships, finding jobs, and, according to Norma Berryhill, 
reminding them that they too should take their work seriously. A friend had left his car 
with her, she recalled. "There was a movie in Durham that sounded very intriguing. I 
didn't have a class. And I really at that point, I'm afraid, felt that if you didn't have 
a class, you had no responsibility. So Cara Mae Green (Russell) and I got the stripped-down 
Ford. . .and went to Durham to the movie. And when I got back and parked the Ford, 
the housemother said to me, 'You had a caller this afternoon, and he asked me to give 
you a message, that he thought that was a lovely car that you were using these days. He 
envied you that car! And I asked for a description of the gentleman, and it turned out 
to be Dr. Odum. He never had to remind me that there was studying and research to 
do again. And from that time on, I became a very serious student!' 

Odum, whose department was a magnet for some of the brightest and most liberal 
scholars in the South, was clearly committed to educating women. It must be admitted, 
however, that more than one of his colleagues, while agreeing that women were entitled 
to a college education, were sure that their own disciplines — history, or whatever — were 
much too demanding for feminine brains. Female students were soon providing evidence 
to the contrary. In 1900 Marcia Louise Latham won the Holt Medal, the highest award 
in the math department, and in 1923 Julia Cherry Spruill received the William Jennings 
Bryan prize in the history department. Even some of the most intransigent men began 
to reconsider their position. Informed of Latham's award, Major William Cain, head 
of the Department of Mathematics, who had been sure his department would not be 
bothered with women, responded, "Now I believe they can do anything!" 

By the early twenties, UNC coeds had established their competence, consistently main- 
taining the highest GPA of any group on campus. They had created organizations of 
their own and had increased in numbers to approximately eighty students. A significant 
body of alumnae existed who were teachers, doctors, lawyers, club women, and civic 
leaders. To these women and their allies in the faculty and administration, the need for 
a women's dormitory was clear. While they had been comparatively unobtrusive and 
undemanding before, they now mounted an effective campaign to win approval for the 
construction of Spencer Hall. When it became clear that there was a real possibility they 
would succeed, opposition to their presence on campus, equally unobtrusive before, became 
active and vocal. What came to be known as the Battle of Spencer Hall began. 

To mobilize the opposition, the Tar Heel published a special edition, with banner head- 
lines reading "Shall Coeds Have a Dormitory Built Here? Representative Student Opinion 
Says No!' Various student leaders were polled, most of whom agreed with the Tar Heel's 
stand, wondering why the University should spend its money "on account of just the 
mere preference of some girls!' A front-page article in the same issue characterized the 
women's petition to the University trustees as "the most ludicrous assemblage of nonsensical 
and sentimental rubbish that could be found in the history of grammatical phraseology!' 

Tar Heel editors also circulated a ballot summarizing the arguments against coeducation: 
except for graduate and professional students, coeducation was not needed because of 
the availability of women's colleges in the state; it would prevent deserving young men 
from matriculating at Chapel Hill; and it would cost too much. The administration had 
yet to take an unequivocal stand on the issue — as late as 1917 President Graham was 
still saying "If it should be decided to make a place for women at the University" (emphasis 
added) — but the boys clearly understood what was at stake — the sanctity of traditional 
gender roles. The ballot concluded, "This university has always been a college of, by, 
and for men, which fact largely accounts for its strengths of character!' 

Editorials headed "Women Students Not Wanted Here" and "Shaves and Shines But 
No Rats and Rouge" reiterated these arguments, and further revealed the boys' deepest 
fears. "We can think of nothing more distateful than [general coeducation] . . .The women 
here would only prove a distracting influence, could do no possible good, and would 
turn the grand institution into a semi-effeminate college which would certainly have no 
attraction for us." It is not surprising to learn that, when the vote was taken, 937 agreed 
with this position against a mere 173. The Tar Heel, along with most opponents, insisted 
that they did not object to the few graduate and professional women who were already 
attending. There were not enough of them to pose a threat. It was the possibility of increas- 
ing numbers to which they objected and to the expenditure of money on women instead 
of men. 

The Tar Heel "ballot" was castigated by one professor who characterized it as an "appeal 
to prejudice and expediency" and Tar Heel editorials as "prejudicial rot and poor logic!' 
Indeed the faculty unanimously favored coeducation. Influential alumni and alumnae 
across the state also supported it; they held meetings, wrote letters, and raised money. 
May Bell Penn (Jones), president of the Woman's Association, spent much of one summer 
traveling about the state seeking support from legislators. Penn, like most proponents 
of coeducation, chose not to address the question of sexual equality head on, focusing 
instead on the University's obligation to the women who were already there. President 
Chase firmly pointed out in chapel that (limited) coeducation was already the established 
policy of the University and not at issue. Frank Porter Graham argued that a university 
education was a human right, not just a sex right. "My belief in co-education at the 
university is part of my belief in the University, he declared. 

Despite opposition from students, and from some alumni in the legislature who threatened 
to block the University's appropriation, the women and their supporters carried the day 
and $100,000 for Spencer Hall was approved. The Tar Heel editors, southern gentlemen 
to the end, reported, "Thus ends a rather heated controversy. We congratulate the women 
and commend them highly on the splendid attitude they have taken in the fight that has 
ensued. We plead not guilty on all charges that we bear any grudge, and the stand that 
we have taken, wrong or right, has been through our sincere best wishes for the welfare 
of all concerned!' The Battle of Spencer Hall was over. 

Spencer Hall opened in the fall of 1925 and over the next few years the number of 
women at UNC continued to grow slowly. By 1929 Stacy began to realize the "battle" 
had been less decisive than she had hoped. She discovered that, with 136 women enrolled, 

seventy-seven housed in Spencer, and nine at the newly opened Pi Beta Phi house, fifty 
students were either living at home or were still scattered across town in rooming houses. 
Despite the victory six years earlier, housing for women still did not begin to meet the 
demand. Spencer lacked two wings called for in the original plans, and when Stacy asked 
the University's business manager, "When do you think I'll get my wings, Mr. Woollen?" 
his only response was, "I think you'll get your wings when you get to heaven!" 

Carolina Coeds: A College Within a College: 1930-1963 

Over the next three decades the attitude of the campus community toward the presence 
of women continued to be one of benign neglect. The pattern of slow but steady growth 
continued; enrollment of women increased to 400 by 1940, then jumped to nearly 1000 
during the war years. By 1962 1900 coeds constituted approximately twenty-two percent 
of the student body. But change did not come in such a way or to such a degree as to 
arouse intense reactions, either positive or negative. Women were present but peripheral, 
virtually a college within a college, at but not really of the University. Housing, admission 
standards, rules and regulations, governing bodies, and many extracurricular activities 
for women remained separate and distinct from those for men. Women shared classrooms 
with men but the University remained a man's institution. 

Housing was one of the most extensive of the feminine enclaves. All women under 
twenty-four were required to live in university housing where they would be "able to enjoy 
University supervision, as well as training in the amenities!' Like the women themselves, 
the dormitories came under the supervision of the Advisor to Women (later Dean of 
Women) and continued to be a constant problem, absorbing much of the time and energy 
of Mrs. Stacy and of Katherine Kennedy Carmichael who succeeded her in 1946. In addition 
to making annual pleas for the construction of new dormitories, Stacy and Carmichael 
also periodically begged, borrowed, and annexed men's buildings. Since security was always 
a major consideration, they chose buildings close to the central campus and requested 
improved lighting and additional locks. When Carmichael attempted to take over all of 
the upper quad — Ruffin, Grimes, Manley, and Mangum — she was accused of trying to 
banish men to south campus. She responded that faced with a choice between safe housing 
for women and an integrated campus, she would take the former, thank you. To adapt 
dorms designed for men to use by women, Stacy and Carmichael modified bathrooms, 
created parlors and social rooms, and converted student rooms into suites for house 
mothers or hostesses. Then they tastefully furnished and decorated the public rooms, 
a process that, with frequent temporary conversions, came to be so time consuming that 
they requested the service of a professional decorator. 

Housing for freshmen and sophomores was not part of the problem, for there were 
few of them and all lived with their parents. Only the daughters of bona fide local residents 
were admitted as freshmen and sophomcres, beginning in 1917, and the bona fide was 
always stressed. Moving one's family to Chapel Hill merely to provide a good education 
for one's daughter was firmly discouraged, although it was acceptable for a widow with 
sons to educate to move to town and open a rooming house, as Pattie Price did in 1921. 
Her son Wright was a freshman that year; however his sisters, Mary, Mildred, Carolina, 
and Branson, did not join him until after at least two years at Womens College. 

Even for bona fide families, this privilege was periodically revoked or modified. Only 
eight years after the first freshman women — Mary Louisa Cobb, Nell Abbie Patterson 
Pickard, Mary Louise Stover, and Lillie Dell Witaker — arrived, the University restricted 
freshman admissions to those in the pre-medical program. In 1931 it reinstated local ad- 
mission, then cut it back again in 1935 as part of the consolidation of the university system — 
and again reestablished it in 1940. Not until the Nursing School opened in 1951 did 
freshman women from across the state find a place on the Chapel Hill campus. It would 
be ten years later before other programs opened up to them. 

Unlike freshmen and sophomores, graduate students were part of the housing problem. 
From the beginning, Stacy had sought to give the older women a quiet place of their 
own away from the undergraduates. Archer house was resurrected in 1936 and Graham 
Dormitory converted in an attempt to meet this need, but the rising tide of undergraduates 
overflowed from Spencer into Graham, defeating her purpose. 

In spite of these efforts, many women still roomed in town. Emily Stevens (Maclachlan, 
[MA 1932]), another of Odum's recruits, recalled that she lived "in a household of girls, 
over on Macauley Street. . .up in the attic. . .There was a kind of a little commune of 
girls upstairs, seven or eight of us. And we just really lived on a shoestring. Food was 
very cheap. You could get buttermilk for five cents a quart, bread was ten cents a loaf 
and we lived on prunes and oatmeal and turnip greens and buttermilk and a few eggs!' 

When enrollment passed 400 in the late thirties, the University finally reaffirmed its 
commitment to coeducation and added more dormitories for women, this time with con- 
siderably less excitement than had been the case fifteen years earlier. Located conveniently 
across the street from Spencer Hall, Mclver and Alderman had rooms for 100 students 
each, plus social rooms and suites for the hosteses. Kenan, designed specifically for graduate 
women, housed 130 and included two suites and four rooms with private baths. 

While initially viewed as potentially divisive and a source of social snobbery, sororities 
came to be seen as a partial solution to the housing crunch and were invited to start 
chapters in Chapel Hill. The first sororities, Pi Beta Phi and Chi Omega, established 
in 1923, got off to a slow start. In 1933, at a time when there were thirty-one national 
fraternities on campus, Chi Omega had to give up its house due to small membership 
and large expenses. Pi Beta Phi managed to rent the home of Mrs. C W. Bain, who acted 
as house mother. Until Alpha Delta Pi came to Carolina in 1939, other national sororities 
refused to establish chapters because of the University's restrictive admission policies. 
But by 1952 there were six national sororities in Chapel Hill, five with houses of their 
own, and nearly sixty percent of undergraduate women were members. 

Despite the new dormitories and sorority houses, Archer was still in use in the forties, 
Smith had been taken over from graduate men, and Carr had been annexed as well. Until 
responsibility for housing women shifted to the Department of Residential Life in the 
early seventies, the records of the Dean of Women's office continued to be filled with 
memos, plans, and reports discussing where, oh where to put all the coeds. 

The concern with overcrowding and the emphasis on providing pleasantly decorated 
parlors stemmed from the fact that coeds had to spend many more hours in their dormitor- 
ies than did their fellow (male) students. There lives were hedged about with a complex 
web of rules governing closing hours and behavior and administered by multiple layers 
of dormitory hostesses, residence assistants, women's legislative and judicial councils, 
and the Dean of Women's office. 

Even before there was university housing for women, there were rules. The women in 
their boarding houses had been requested not to visit fraternity houses except "under 
chaperonage and with the permission of Mrs. Stacy!' They were also not to "ride in the 
evening unless a chaperone" was with them, to limit parties to Friday and Saturday nights, 


to send visitors home at 10:30 on weeknights and 11:00 on weekends, and to maintain 
quiet hours in the afternoon and evening. By 1930 explicit permission from the women's 
advisor was not required to visit fraternity houses — although chaperones were — and the 
prohibition on unchaperoned driving was changed to read, "Women students are asked 
to make it a point of honor not to motor unchaperoned at such times or such places 
as may bring misunderstanding upon the student and may injure the University!' 

This wording, with its implications of the importance and fragility of reputation, was 
an elaboration of the Campus Code. Along with the Honor Code, which covered lying, 
cheating, and stealing, the Campus Code applied to all students. It stated firmly that 
the Carolina student "conducts herself at all times as a lady" (or gentleman as the case 
may be). More specific explanation was not considered necessary; Carolina coeds were 
of course ladies and thus should know what it meant. The codes applied both on and 
off campus. Strolling across campus, driving on Franklin Street, vacationing at the beach, 
or visiting a cousin in Baltimore, wherever she went, she was a Carolina coed, a representa- 
tive of her university. 

Despite the assumption that coeds were ladies, or just in case they weren't, the University 
kept close tabs on its young women. It established closing hours and a sign-out system 
that applied to rooming houses as well as dormitories: ten-thirty on weeknights and eleven 
on weekends were the limits to which coeds could safely be left loose on campus. The 
limits were stretched slightly after 1937 when senior women who demonstrated their 
seriousness and self-discipline by maintaining at least a "C" average were given "key privi- 
leges" allowing them to stay out until 11:15 and 12:00. Graduate women generally had 
an extra hour of liberty. The Dean of Women might grant special permission for late 
sign-out for midnight movies, for concerts, and for the big annual dances such as Germans 
and May Frolics. 

Conditions for visiting or entertaining members of the opposite sex were equally precise. 
Specific hours and public rooms in the dormitories and fraternity houses were designated; 
one never visited members of the opposite sex in their rooms. Parties had to be chaperoned 
and registered in advance with the Dean of Women. 

Increasing numbers, especially after resident freshman were admitted, brought more 
and more detailed rules. A Carolina coed wore skirts and blouses for everyday wear, and 
suits and heels for football games. She did not wear slacks or shorts which were not per- 
mitted on campus until 1967. Even then they were not to be worn in the library, classrooms, 
dining room, or South Building. Woe to the slacks-clad coed who encountered Dean Car- 
michael; she was marched briskly to the Dean's office for a stiff lecture in the fern filled 
room that, with its oriental carpets, appropriately resembled a Victorian parlor. 

In dormitories the Carolina coed showed consideration for others by not taking showers 
after 11 pm. She kept her room neat and ready for the weekly inspections designed to 
promote good housekeeping habits. She attended the frequent, compulsory dorm meetings 
(absence punishable by a twenty-five cent fine). For security reasons she never opened 
external doors after closing hours (one woman was brought before the residence council 
for putting out a stray dog that had wandered in earlier). She never kept alcohol in her 
rooms, although when beer became a popular hair rinse she was often tempted. And 
she did not chew gum! 

Scrutiny extended to off campus-behavior as well. A woman could not spend the night 
in town unless accompanied by her parents or with special permission granted only on 
the formal invitation of a bona fide Chapel Hill family, a category which did not include 
single women with their own apartments. She could not visit a man's rooms in a private 
house nor go to a man's apartment unless there were six people present. When traveling 
away from campus the coed had to leave in time to reach her destination before dormitory 


closing hours. She had to register her full itinerary and expected date of return before 
departure for vacations. Even when a woman ceased to be a registered student, the rules 
pursued her. She was to leave not only her campus housing, but the town of Chapel Hill 
as well, within forty-eight hours. 

Under the campus code, violators of any of these rules were expected to turn themselves 
in, after which an elaborate hierarchy meted out punishment. Minor infractions — being 
less than ten minutes late for closing hours, missing a house meeting — might be dealt 
with by the dorm president or hostess. Other infractions would go to the house council, 
while repeated and serious violations — being more than an hour late, falsifying the sign-out 
card, helping a friend sneak in late — would go to the Women's Residence or Honor 

This kind of surveillance was so firmly identified with college women that male students 
had feared coeducation would extend a similar restraint over themselves. This turned 
out not to be the case for while the honor and campus codes applied to all students, 
there were few explicit rules for men. With the exception of those governing visitation 
hours and rooms in University housing, all of the above regulations applied only to women. 
Some statistics on disciplinary procedures gathered by the Dean of Men's office for the 
year 1951-52 illustrate the sharp dichotomy which characterized the lives of men and 
women on campus. The Women's Council, which governed only one-seventh of the student 
body, had handled twenty-five percent more cases than the Men's Council. The Dean 
of Women hastened to point out that this did not mean that women were seven times 
more unruly than men. All but two of the cases in the women's court concerned being 
late or failing to sign-out. In a fifteen year period when twenty-two men were charged 
with assault and twenty-four with conducting panty raids, 240 women faced disciplinary 
procedures for excessive lateness and 117 for failure to sign-out. 

The assumptions behind the differences in the rules were quite simple. Women were 
fragile, vulnerable children. Walls of rules, of closing hours, locked doors, and sign-out 
cards had to be built to protect them, both from the outside world, from sexual assault 
or other physical harm, and from their own immaturity. Unlike boys, girls at twenty or 
twenty-two still needed to be confined to ensure that they were not seduced by the pleasures 
of campus life to the detriment of their intellectual development or the embarrassment 
of the University. If a girl misbehaved, she could be sent to her room. The sentence of 
"campusing," or social probation, handed out only by the women's court confined the 
errant coed to the residential (non-visiting) section of the dormitory or sorority house 
from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. "Strict social probation" could extend the hours even further. 

These underlying assumptions were not unique to the University community of course. 
The administration knew that parents always worry more about daughters than sons. 
Few parents would be willing to send their young women to an institution that did not 
watch over them carefully. Such rules applied in all but the most avant garde colleges 
and, until the sixties, coeds themselves actively participated in making and enforcing them. 
Although the administration determined that there would be closing hours, it was the 
Women's Residence Council, elected by the dormitories and sororities, that determined 
just what they would be. The council dealt with the dress code, the rules on town visiting, 
and numerous other matters. The women's court, chosen by the coeds, heard all cases 
involving women and passed the sentences from suspension to "campusment" to extra 
dormitory desk duty. They worked closely with the Dean of Women's Office on these 
matters. While Carmichael retained a seldom used veto, it was the coeds' active participa- 
tion in the system that sustained the distinct women's code. 

Although this code confined and cramped women in many ways, it also allowed them 
to create a sphere in which they could exercise a degree of power their numbers would 


not have warranted in the wider campus world. Through their work on the house councils, 
residence and women's councils and courts, many coeds gained valuable experience in 
leadership and working with groups. Carmichael recognized this and resisted the repeated 
attempts to integrate the separate women's and men's governments, arguing that separatism 
was the best way to insure that women's power would not be lost. The debate on whether 
integration or separatism best serves the needs of women and other minorities is a long 
standing one that continues today on many fronts. Integration would be the strategy for 
women within the university context although some studies suggest a higher level of public 
achievement among graduates of separate women's colleges. 

In addition to student government, there were other opportunities for women to take 
an active part in campus life although they continued to be primarily in new organizations 
for women. Of sixteen university organizations listed in the 1925-26 UNC Catalog, only 
two were included in the Women's Handbook for that year under the heading "Organiza- 
tions Open to Women;" they were the North Carolina Club and Playmakers Theater, 
which women had dominated from the beginning. In addition, women worked on the 
various campus publications. Although Mary McRae had been literary editor for the Tar 
Heel and a woman was nominated for the editorship of the monthly Carolina Magazine 
in 1933, it was not until 1950, when Glenn Harden was named editor of the Daily Tar 
Heel, that a woman headed one of these publications. Phi Beta Kappa, the two social 
sororities and Pan Hellenic, established in 1926, along with women's government, rounded 
out the available activities in the early years. 

Enrollment accelerated in the thirties — the Library School opened in 1932, attracting 
thirty-two women that first year; women's enrollment climbed to 283 from 136 just three 
years earlier. As a result there were a steady increase in the number of organizations and 
activities open to women. Asserting their ability to contribute to their community, the 
coeds created the YMCA and Alpha Kappa Gamma — later the Valkyries — an honorary 
sorority recognizing "leadership, character and service!' The Carolina Independent Coed 
Association and the Town Girls Association (Chapel Hill Club) offered non-sorority girls 
an opportunity for the "social education, leadership training, character and personality 
development, and beneficial use of leisure time" that sororities fostered. The coeds also 
established the women's glee club and infiltrated the cultural and political life of the college, 
joining the University Symphony, the Cosmopolitan Club, the Wigue and Masque, the 
political clubs, and most significantly perhaps, the Di and Phi, Carolina's traditional 
debating society. Their place in Chapel Hill was sufficiently solid by the forties that, 
when a new honorary society, The Order of the Old Well, was founded, women were 
charter members. 

As women developed a more stable and complex life within the university community, 
they became more concerned with what college could offer socially as well as academically. 
The introduction to the "Women's Handbook" of 1940-41 reflected this trend. "In choosing 
your future Alma Mater, one of the first things you consider is the type of girl who goes 
there. You wonder whether she is the kind you would like to take home with you — the 
kind you will remember after you graduate!' In dorms and sororities, in classrooms and 
campus organizations, at weekly teas at Spencer, women met and formed lasting friend- 
ships. But UNC was a coeducational school and much of the social life of course revolved 
around the opposite sex. All those rules and regulations had been made in part to shape 
and control the conditions under which Carolina men and women might come together. 

Fraternity mixers, picnics, movies, concerts, and especially the big dances — Fall, Mid- 
Winter, and Final Germans, and the junior-senior dances, when students from Womens 
College, Meredith, Salem, Peace and other women's schools flocked to Chapel Hill — 
were events that brought the sexes together. There were rules there too. Fraternities had 


to notify the Dean of Women in advance of any functions. At the dances there could 
be no drinking, smoking, or refreshments on the dance floor. Dancers could not leave 
and return without taking a chaperone with them. Since the women from other schools 
were bused in with little prior pairing up, dance committeemen, identified by their blue 
and white rosettes, introduced "boys and girls" to each other* 

And there were off-campus parties where the rules were ignored. Such situations could 
be seductive in more than one sense and in them the Dean of Women saw the embodiment 
of all the fears underlying women's rules. "Many come to this University!' Carmichael 
warned, "because they have heard of its 'freedom and liberalism' and, all too often, have 
misinterpreted these terms to mean a freedom in social life which easily borders loose 
living. Their sense of proportion is often lost when dating, dancing, and week ends become 
an end in themselves rather than a needed recreation after an absorbing class program!' 

Most Carolina coeds did not indulge in such "loose living!' Many, beginning with Nell 
Pickard, a member of that first freshman class, found an outlet for their energies in athlet- 
ics. Wasting no time getting involved in campus life, Nell and five of her fellow coeds 
started a basketball team. There was an athletic club and Patricia Parmelee instructed 
the coeds twice a week in a health-exercise course. "The coed room and the ladies rest 
room in Peabody Hall were transformed into a veritable gymnasium where eager coeds 
were guided through the Weave, the Grind and the various movements of the 'Daily Dozen 
set to Music! " By 1923 the women even had their own tennis court.* 

A more formal program began when Gladys Angel Beard was hired as athletic director 
in 1932. Physical education, which included basketball, folk dancing, baseball, tennis, 
and archery, became mandatory for freshmen and sophomores. Intramural basketball 
began the next year with male varsity players as coaches and an extramural component 
was soon added when a Play Day brought girls from Duke, Meredith, Peace, St. Mary's 
and Womens College. Under Beard's direction, physical education for women gradually 
gained acceptance, but it remained essentially separate from the men's program, distinctly 
second class, and governed by a philosophy that was the antithesis of the competitive 
male model. For six years the women borrowed time in Bynum Gym before they were 
given a gymnasium of their own. This facility, built jointly by the Navy and the University 
in 1942, replaced space lost to the Navy during the war years. There was, however, no 
replacement of the women's playing field, which was also given over to military training. 

Men's and women's intramural activities, with few exceptions, remained two separate 
entities. Not until 1974 was there a unified intramural department. The women's athletics 
director and her two assistants taught courses and also planned intramural programs, 
officiated games, and directed club activities for women; unlike their male colleagues, 
they received no additional compensation for these activities. On occasion they even paid 
trip expenses for the clubs out of their own pockets. 

The philosophy on which the women's athletic program was based reflected the national 
philosophy of the times, "a sport for every girl and every girl in a sport!' an approach 
that favored participation and opposed intense intercollegiate competition. For the highly 
skilled girls, clubs were formed to allow competition with other schools in particular sports, 
with the emphasis maintained on playing for fun and social camaraderie, rather than 
on winning. (The women's gym had a social room in the basement to which visiting teams 

♦Visiting women were known as "dancing girls" in the forties and fifties. In the less elegant sixties, the buses 
were referred to as "cattle busses!' 

The following account of women's athletics is drawn from Angela Lumpkin, "Women's Physical Activity at the 
First State University: An Uphill Struggle!' 


were invited after each game for cookies and sodas.) This pattern would hold through 
the sixties until the federal government mandated equal access to sports facilities, and 
varsity teams and sports scholarships became part of women's athletics for the first time. 

The impact of the war years on women's athletics — gaining a gym, losing a playing 
field — had been mixed. In other areas it was more consistent. Female enrollment nearly 
doubled (the University actively sought to increase its coed population for the first time 
since President Alderman recruited Mary McRae), the position of Advisor was upgraded 
to Dean of Women, and the American Association of University Women finally consented 
to recognize Carolina. The latter was the culmination of a long struggle by university 
women as Katherine Jocher recalled: 

"Many of us worked long years for this. Non-accreditation was never on an academic 
basis but on such things as appointment of women to the faculty on the same basis as 
men, recognition of the Dean of Women with full faculty rank and status, more adequate 
University housing for women students, better physical education facilities for women, 
etc. . . .Mrs. Wallace E. Caldwell and I were the delegate and alternate at the national 
meeting that year [1924] and felt the humiliation as the University of North Carolina 
was read as one of those colleges and universities that had failed to meet the necessary 
requirements for full accreditation .... I think our pride suffered, too, since the Woman's 
College at Greensboro was accredited before we were." 

AAUW recognition of Carolina did not mean that the era of second-class citizenship 
for women had ended. Throughout the thirties, forties, and fifties, their presence was 
tolerated by many but, with the exception of the war years, acclaimed by few. Few schools 
or departments admitted women to the faculty, other than sociology, which was under 
Odum's enlightened leadership, and, in the fifties, education and nursing. As students, 
women accepted this situation without significant protest, content to pursue their own 
goals within their own sphere. The Carolina Coed accepted as givens the rules that sur- 
rounded her; she joined a sorority (as fifty-eight percent did in 1953), got involved in 
the women's student government and the YWCA, eagerly attended teas, receptions, mixers, 
parties, and dances, played tennis and golf, and, of course, went to classes. 

There were some significant differences between these coeds and the pioneers of the 
first thirty years. Many of the early students had been aware that they were a vanguard, 
charting new territories for women. They approached their studies with great seriousness 
and a comparatively high percentage of them became doctors, lawyers, and leaders in 
education and social work. Many remained single, almost a requirement then for a woman 
who wanted a career, which was considered by society in general and most prospective 
husbands in particular to be wholly unreconcilable with women's "proper" role as wife 
and mother. Sallie Stockard, while perhaps not typical, exemplifies the independence of 
her generation of college women. She married and had two children before taking back 
her maiden name, a subject of no little controversy, apparently. As she explained, "I have 
supported myself and brought up two children from birth without help. I am under no 
obligations to any man for the use of his name. ... I do not hide behind any other name 
than my own .... Shall I have to be cremated to keep that man's name off my tombstone? 
Wooden headed tradition!" 

By the thirties, college was becoming less the exception than the rule for middle-class 
women and they more closely reflected the norms of their society. They no longer attended 
college primarily to prepare for a career; many came to find a husband — to get an MRS 
degree was the cliche — majoring in education, English, and sociology and pursuing teaching 
or social work only until marriage. The war years sent them into new fields. In a 1945 
survey alumnae reported they were working in 47 different vocational fields, including 
actress, doctor, pilot, insurance claims adjuster, editor, engineer, draftsman, lab technician, 


translator, and cartographer as well as the more traditional occupations such as teaching, 
library science, social work, nursing, and secretarial work. But in the postwar period, 
like their sisters everywhere, they returned to the home and family and to those traditional 
jobs. Ninety-six percent of the class of 1949 reported that marriage was their ultimate 
aim for life; only fifteen percent expected to work after marriage. Even Julia Cherry Spruill, 
whose pioneering book, Women's Life and Work in the Southern Colonies, published 
in 1938, is still an inspiration to historians of women, described herself as "a housewife 
[who does] a little research in history and writing!' 

In Loco Parentis Fink 1963-1972 

Between 1951 to 1972 the University made several changes in the standards of admission 
for women. Although it was never the intent, these changes brought an end to the era 
of the Carolina Coed and gave birth to that of the Carolina Woman, comparable at last 
to the Carolina Man, presumably fully integrated into the University, and finally (numeri- 
cally) superior as well. Programs initiated in the fifties began to draw more women to 
campus. In 1951 the School of Nursing admitted freshman women; three years later the 
Schools of Medical Technology, Dental Hygiene, and Physical Therapy did the same. 
Enrollment of women increased almost fifty percent in the late fifties, from fewer than 
1000 at the beginning of the decade to more than 2000 in 1963. In that year the Trustees 
voted to admit freshman women to the fine arts programs; shortly thereafter they extended 
it to all other programs as well. This was still not an unequivocal endorsement of the 
presence of women at Carolina. The familiar caveat, "housing permitting," was tacked 
on, in effect requiring that coeds meet higher academic standards than men if they were 
to be awarded one of the scarce dormitory rooms allocated to women. Over the next 
decade much of the time and attention of the Dean of Women's office continued to be 
taken up with the scramble to find space for coeds. Despite limitations, enrollment increased 
inexorably until, in 1972, there were approximately 6500 women at Carolina. This was 
a rise from less than fifteen percent of the student body to more than thirty percent. 
Then, in 1972, in a culmination of many trends of the sixties, the final change came. 
Pressured by students and parents and faced with a federal mandate to eliminate sexual 
discrimination as it had earlier eliminated that based on race, the University began to 
admit women under the same standards as men. 

Chapel Hill was not exempt from the uproar of the sixties with its student and sexual 
revolutions. The concept of in loco parentis, of the university as parent, was challenged 
from all sides, and in this battle the growing number of women had the full support of 
male students. While riots spread across other American campuses, at UNC a more peaceful 
process gradually pushed and pulled the university community into accepting greater stu- 
dent autonomy and an equality of the sexes that was almost the antithesis of its traditional 
attitude toward the Carolina Coed. By the early seventies, the requirement that women 
live in university housing was gone, closing hours were gone, the dress code was gone, 
the separate women's government was gone, the walls of women's rules were gone. Even 
the Dean of Women was gone; women were on their own. 

Four major issues arose between 1963 and 1972 around which the students rallied in 
their quest for equality and autonomy. These were the "dual standard" that is the separate 
men's and women's courts and the resulting dual standards of punishment; "self-limiting 


hours," or the replacement of set closing hours with a system that allowed women to 
come and go as they pleased; "visitation" a system permitting visiting in the dorm rooms 
of the opposite sex; and the "junior apartment privilege!' the repeal of the requirement 
that women under 21 live in university housing. Over all loomed the honor code and 
campus code with their emphasis on the responsibility of individual students to police 
their own behavior and that of their peers, a responsibility that was implicitly denied 
by the many rules surrounding the coeds and by the power of the office of the Dean 
of Women. 

In each case a similar pattern emerged, a theme with variations, as these issues surfaced 
one after the other, overlapping in time, and eliciting similar responses from each of the 
contestants. Some event triggered student dissatisfaction; Tar Heel editorials were dashed 
off; marches mounted; petitions circulated. University officials rejected student demands, 
then appointed committees. Students charged delaying tactics and marched some more. 
The committee reported; changes were made. Students in turn accepted the outcome, 
with reservations, then pushed for further change. 

As each controversy arose, students argued vehemently that they had a right to run 
their own lives, that learning to do so was an important part of the university experience, 
for women no less than men. The Carolina coed was still missing important elements 
of a college education. As one student charged, "Four years of college and she can evaluate 
Stephen Dedulus' [sic] behavior but not her own. Four years of college have rendered 
her incompetent to think for herself. In performing the admirable function of in loco 
parentis, the University has shortchanged its students as well as itself!' 

University officials, on the other hand, stressed their obligation to maintain standards 
of conduct acceptable to the community at large. Carolina has traditionally been the 
center of liberal thought in the state, a veritable "hotbed of radicalism" according to 
some. But both the Board of Trustees and the state legislature kept a close eye on doings 
at the University and the imposition of the Speaker Ban Law* illustrated the dangers 
of getting too far ahead of public opinion. Chancellor J. Carlyle Sitterson and President 
William Friday both walked a fine line between the demands of students for more freedom 
and those of parents, trustees, and legislators that they maintain proper control of their 
"unruly" charges. 

Some credited (or blamed) the innate conservatism, or docility, or good manners of 
southerners for the lack of violent confrontation at Chapel Hill. But at least as much 
credit for this comparatively peaceful transition must be given to Sitterson. Eschewing 
the intransigence of his colleagues at Berkeley, Columbia, and Harvard, Sitterson adopted 
instead a policy of involving students in the decision making process. Each committee 
he appointed to review rule changes included from one-third to one-half student representa- 
tives along with faculty and administrators. And in nearly every case Sitterson accepted 
the committee recommendations. 

Both by personal inclination and by virtue of her position as Dean of Women, Katherine 
("Kitty") Kennedy Carmichael, who had succeeded Inez Stacy in 1946, was at the forefront 
of the resistance to changes. An Alabama native, she was an experienced English professor 
with a PhD from Vanderbilt University. As Dean of Women she essentially forsook her 
teaching career to devote herself completely to Carolina women. Although she continued 
to teach an occasional English class, she was not formally affiliated with any department. 
The University and its female students were the center of her life for twenty-six years. 

*In 1963, the state legislature passed the Speaker Ban Law banning Communist speakers on all campuses of the 
state university system. The University was threatened with loss of accreditation because the law interfered with 
academic freedom. 


Despite her own long experience as an independent career woman, Carmichael continued 
to see women as "small, fragile and precious!' Because of this she rigorously fulfilled 
what she took to be her mandate from the University, the state of North Carolina, and 
especially the parents of her "girls": to protect and guide them, to be mother, friend, 
and counselor, and to ensure that they, individually and collectively, did nothing to jeopar- 
dize their position in an institution in which they were still a minority, and, in the eyes 
of many, an anomaly. 

While her position may seem anachronistic, all who knew her agree that her concern 
for women students was strong and genuine. It was also firmly grounded in her years 
of experience with college women and the problems and dangers they faced. Most coeds 
had come from homes and from women's schools (if junior transfers) that had given 
them little if any preparation for independent living. Every semester Carmichael and her 
staff counseled students who were having trouble balancing the allure of Carolina's social 
life and campus activities with its academic demands. And there were other potential 
hazards. The periodic assaults on the women's dorms by male students or off-campus 
elements might be harmless entertainment, like the panty raid on Spencer and Mclver 
dorms in April 1963 that netted only one pair of panties dropped from her window by 
an encouraging coed. It was more serious when cherry bombs were thrown into some 
of the dormitories in July 1966. Women were sexually vulnerable also. Birth control pills 
were not distributed by student health and University rules required temporary withdrawal 
from school in case of pregnancy. Assault, rape, and what we now call date rape were 
ever present possibilities. And in 1965 Suellen Evans was murdered in the Arboretum. 
These events and possibilities were not mere chimeras that Carmichael saw, nor simple 
rationalizations for an outmoded concern with propriety and reputation; they were real 
threats to the lives and health of her charges, and, equally important, to their ability 
to stay in school and acquire the education she valued so highly. 

Women themselves sounded the first call to battle. In 1963 the Women's Council declared 
that it would no longer enforce the so-called apartment rule, that long-standing regulation 
that a woman could not visit a man in his apartment unless at least one other couple 
was present. Even this was less stringent than previous standards, which as Carmichael 
recalled, had been taken quite seriously at one time. In the 1950s, Joel Fleishman, who 
would later become vice president of Duke, lived in an apartment in Roberson House. 
One autumn he called her office "frantically!' saying, "Girls are raking leaves in my yard. 
They need to go to the bathroom. What are they to do?" "Take them to your bathroom!' 
she replied calmly. But, he reminded her, "you have a rule against it."* 

By 1963 the rule was widely viewed by students, and not a few members of the faculty 
and administration, as so archaic and unenforceable as to promote disrespect for the 
whole structure of regulations governing women. But the Dean still saw merit in it and 
she was sure her colleagues and the parents agreed. "I tell my daughter it's just not being 
done!' she quoted a friend as saying. In addition, if the apartment rule was unenforceable 
for those who wished to ignore it, it could still provide a bulwark for those who found 
themselves in situations for which they felt unready. She cited the case of two coeds who 
told their dates they could not go parking because the Dean of Women would not permit 
it. There was no such rule, Carmichael noted, but she was happy to have her name invoked 

*As this account illustrates, Katherine Carmichael enjoyed telling a good story and was willing to see the humor 
in her position. Another example concerns the fraternity initiates who were often required to "kiss the Dean of 
Women on the steps of South Building!' Carmichael always patiently accommodated the line of pledges, gravely 
thanking each one. 


whenever necessary. No doubt the apartment rule could be similarly useful; in addition, 
it served that essential function of maintaining appearances. 

Carmichael, disturbed over both the implications of revoking the no apartment rule 
and the defiance by the Women's Council, vetoed the Council's decision, pointing out 
that student government existed by delegation of authority from the administration and 
that the council made rules only in consultation with the Dean's office. As Carmichael 
later recalled, "the campus was upset with me over my insistence [on enforcing the rule]. 
Just before spring examinations, 1963, the howl became a roar!' A mediation committee 
met. "Hours were spent, not much was accomplished" she concluded. But in the Handbook 
for Women Students, issued the next year, the rule now read, "optional for upperclassmen, 
mandatory for freshmen!' Carmichael's assertions to the contrary, it is obvious that some- 
thing had been accomplished; through negotiations, a compromise had been struck that 
both students and administration could live with — at least for the moment. 

Two years later when the issue of the double standard of justice leaped into the center 
of controversy, the administration was nearly as adamant in condemning it as the students. 
The precipitating incident was the sentencing of the student body president and his girl 
friend for spending the night together in his fraternity room. He received an official repri- 
mand, a notation on his University record; she was expelled. Outraged at both the offense 
and the inequity of the sentences, the administration demanded that the president resign 
his office for behavior unbecoming a representative of the University. 

Many student leaders supported the goal but emphatically rejected the intrusion of 
the administration into what they viewed as strictly a student matter. After convincing 
the administration to withdraw its demand, students themselves, led by Women's Residence 
Council representative Sharon Rose, instituted a recall petition. The petition failed for 
technical reasons, and the president served out his term. But in dramatizing a double 
standard the incident had raised an issue that did not die. Over the next few years reform 
of the honor and judicial systems was a major student concern. The end result was a unified 
student government, with a woman, Juli Tenney (1974) as the first speaker of the new 
student legislature, and with one standard of conduct for both sexes. The campus code 
became sex neutral, dropping the concepts of "lady" and "gentleman" to require all stu- 
dents to conduct themselves "so as not to impair significantly the welfare or the educational 
opportunities of others in the University Community!' 

The double standard was also the focus of the so called "self-limiting hours" issue. 
In the fall of 1966 when a Daily Tar Heel columnist suggested that men be confined to 
their dorms on alternate nights so that coeds would be free to roam the campus, he clearly 
was not serious. But the Women's Residence Council [WRC] was quite serious the following 
winter when it proposed that women over 21 and seniors with parental permission be 
exempt from closing hours. Although the Administrative Board of Student Affairs ap- 
proved a modified version of self-limiting hours, Sitterson's rejection was as decisive as 
Carmichael's veto of the no apartment decision had been — and just as short lived. "Univer- 
sity residences assigned for occupancy by women students must maintain set closing hours!' 
he declared on 28 February 1968. By late March, in response to an appeal by the WRC, 
the chancellor had appointed a joint committee of nine members, three each from the 
administration, faculty, and student body. 

The latent issues behind the initial opposition — concern for female vulnerability and 
the possibility of "illicit sex"— were clear to both sides. Charging that "UNC coeds are 
treated with maximum suspicion and minimum respect!' one Daily Tar Heel contributor 
pointed out that, "Whoever devised the rule for closing hours believed that as long as 


you had women in their dorms by 2:00 you would preserve their chastity!' But, he concluded 
"anything you can do after 2:00 you can do before 2:00!' 

Throughout the fall of 1968, at the same time the joint committee was meeting, another 
series of events, which would have far reaching consequences, focused attention on that 
underlying leitmotif of female vulnerability. Reports of prowlers in and around the women's 
dorms brought stepped up security measures such as better lighting and alarms in the 
rooms. Still feeling insecure, nearly eighty percent of women students signed petitions calling 
for night watchmen. One of the administration's major arguments against self-limiting 
hours, the bottom line so to speak, was that it could not afford to hire the additional security 
personnel necessary to ensure the safety of late returning coeds. Now, however, it appeared 
that such measures were required to protect women under the current rules. The University 
in good conscience could not place monetary considerations above the safety of its women. 
Less than a month after receiving the coeds' petition, Sitterson announced that guards 
would patrol the women's dormitory areas from midnight to 6 a.m. 

In the meantime, the committee was surveying parental opinion with equivocal results. 
A majority thought that the current system was satisfactory and opposed any change, 
but a similar majority, sixty percent, also would permit their daughters to participate 
in self-limiting hours. With no major opposition and the question of security already 
settled, Sitterson quickly moved beyond extant recommendations. In mid November 1968 
he announced that junior as well as senior women could, with parental permission, have 
self-limiting hours. WRC chairwoman Libby Idol was delighted, calling the Chancellor's 
action "farsighted!' The Daily Tar Heel joined in, praising him for acting without prodding. 
The mutual admiration faded rapidly however when the WRC objected to the retention 
of the sign-out system (which the DTH called "a device for insuring that someone's little 
girlies are all safe and sound!') The administration briefly held firm, insisting "no sign-out, 
no self-limiting hours!' But by March a compromise had been reached; the question of 
whether their daughters would have to sign out was left up to parents. Step by step, over 
the next two years, the program was extended, first to sophomores, then to second-semester 
freshmen, and then to all women over 18. By 1972, fewer than 100 women under eighteen 
were subject to closing hours. UNC women were now as free to come and go as were 
the men. 

As the last vestiges of closing hours were swept away, two other remnants of in loco 
parentis were also being challenged. In the controversy over visitation and junior apartments 
the themes of sex, equality, and student autonomy surfaced again. In early 1968 men 
students were beginning to push for some sort of regular policy that would permit them 
to entertain female friends in their rooms. Faced with imminent confrontation and having 
learned from past experience, Sitterson skipped right to the committee phase, appointing 
six students to the twelve member group. As the committee met, students gathered 4000 
signatures on a petition and an estimated 1000 students marched to Lenoir Hall, site 
of the committee's deliberations, chanting, "The arb [arboretum] is cold!" and "We want 
visitation!" The committee took these attentions in good humor and assured their visitors 
that they were giving the matter serious consideration. 

Outside the University community, however, the response was not so amiable. Guberna- 
torial candidate Jim Gardiner condemned such activities and said if elected he would 
not allow such things at the state tax supported University. He would, he said, "have 
the courage to stand up for what's right and decent . . ." The Daily Tar Heel called him 
a "blowhard" and a "demagogue." 

In December the committee produced a plan so weighted down with detailed, inflexible 
rules and procedures as to be unworkable. The complex regulations provided ample scope 
for complaint from those, like the Tar Heel editors, who sought complete student autono- 


my. But the major sticking point was the "open door" rule. This required that dorm room 
doors remain open during visits. How far "open" was the question? All the way? The 
width of a book? A match book, perhaps? Realizing that privacy was the goal of any 
policy, and that "open doors" in the high rise dorms meant opening them to the elements, 
the committee, in May 1969, simplified the other regulations and suggested the open-door 
rule be scrapped. The Administrative Board of Student Affairs endorsed the action despite 
"varying degrees of distaste for the practice of visitation" and, especially in the case of 
the open-door rule, "reservations [about] . . .the possible impairment of the University's 
image in the state!' President Friday, however, could not dismiss public opinion as briskly 
as the Tar Heel dismissed Gardiner. Wary of public response, he declined to accept the 
committee's recommendation. The open door rule stayed in. Nonetheless, the administra- 
tion had given enough in other areas to mollify the students for the moment, and in 
time, one by one, most of the remaining regulations were eliminated. 

The last of these recurring controversies came up in the spring of 1969 when the WRC 
asked that juniors be allowed the same right to live off campus as seniors and women 
over twenty-one. Ironically, the University, which had for so many years been reluctant 
to provide women with sufficient housing, was now reluctant to let them go. This stemmed 
from two major concerns, the first was that the university remain a residential rather 
than commuter college, the second was with the potantial loss of income to the university 
housing system. Just as Inez Stacy and Edward Kidder Graham had argued fifty years 
before, the University now affirmed that women would miss crucial elements of the college 
experience if they lived off campus. In addition, with ninety percent occupancy required 
to finance the dormitory system, the loss of any significant portion of the fifteen percent 
who were women posed a serious threat to it. 

Deploring the fact that "maintaining a truly 'captive' market is the only method by 
which the financial problem is now being handled" student leaders pointed out that "the 
possibility that many residents are there against their will is certainly not a source of 
strength for the residence college system." Committee members agreed. Their solution 
to the problem affirmed the value of a residential college, and offered a long range answer 
to the occupancy question. They recommended that all incoming freshman, male as well 
as female, be required to live on campus for two years, with transfer students having 
to do so for one. Previously men had been required to live on campus only in their freshman 
year. Requiring them to live under the more stringent standards applied to women was 
a revolutionary advance in sexual equality. The committee then took the concept even 
further, suggesting that the solution to the occupancy problem was to increase the number 
of freshmen women by standardizing the admission requirements, that is, by admitting 
women on the same terms as men. Chancellor Ferebee Taylor accepted the first part of 
the committee recommendations in 1970. By 1972, when Title IX of the federal Education 
Amendment mandated an end to discrimination on the basis of sex in admission, financial 
aid, housing, and other "comparable facilities'' the residential requirement for transfer 
students had already been waived and supervision of women's dorms had been transferred 
from the Dean of Women's office to the newly established Division of Residential Life. 
Virtually all of the legal apparatus that had kept women separate and unequal for so 
many years had been demolished. 

It is ironic to reflect that hiring guards for the women's dorms may have been the most 
decisive as well as the least controversial action taken by Carolina in this whole chain 
of events. There was never any question that the University should take all feasible steps 
to protect its coeds. No one, let alone a southern male, would have considered doing 
otherwise. Once this decision was made, however, the rationale for closing hours was irre- 
trievably weakened. And if women were capable of deciding when to return to their dorms, 


why should they not be capable of managing their own lives off campus as well? And, 
if they could stay out as late as they wished and live in their own apartments, what could 
possibly happen to them behind closed dormitory doors during visiting hours that couldn't 
happen elsewhere. Like dominos the rules fell, pushed initially by that one uncontroversial 

Of course, more powerful forces than the domino effect had also been at work. Feminism 
and the women's movement provided the impetus behind Title IX, which had given the 
University the last decisive push over that hump of lingering technical discrimination. 
Students of both sexes, as well as the administration and faculty, had had their conscious- 
ness raised during the push-me-pull-you incremental process of negotiated change. All 
of this had contributed to the demise of concept of the Carolina Coed and the emergence 
of the Carolina Woman. 

This new woman of the seventies was quite different from the coed of the forties and 
fifties. She expected to marry later, to have fewer children and to have them later, and 
to work longer than had her predecessor. Since a majority of women in 1972 had spent 
four years in a coeducational school — as opposed to only one-quarter in 1958 — they were 
less concerned with the social aspects of college life. Far fewer of them cited that as a 
major reason for coming to Carolina and sorority membership had dropped from a high 
of nearly sixty percent to less than twenty percent. 

Carolina women recognized that with liberation came new responsibilities not faced 
by earlier coeds. This was a central theme in many of the student arguments for change, 
one that the older generation came to recognize with some reluctance. Mary Turner Lane 
stressed that she had learned much from her long hours in meetings with students. She 
evoked her own background as a Salem student in the forties and a Carolina graduate 
student in the fifties when she wrote to Chancellor Sitterson, "I also came to recognize 
more strongly than ever that today's students are vastly different from those of our genera- 
tion and want to assume responsibilities that you and I never desired!' 

Carolina Woman: A New Majority 

With in loco parentis discarded and much of the structure enforcing it abandoned, 
women turned their attention to creating a new place for themselves in the university 
community. In 1968 the Women's Residence Council, the women's legislature before the 
men's and women's governments merged, became the Association of Women Students 
(AWS) with the emphasis on the role and status of women rather than on rules. In the 
spring of 1971, the chair of the AWS suggested changing the name of the joint student- 
faculty-administration Implementation Committee, which had been established the year 
before to assist Dean Carmichael with rules changes, to the Women's Forum since she 
believed that the changes were complete. 

From outside the University (the federal government's Title IX and affirmative action 
legislation) as well as inside (students and female faculty), came demands for new programs 
and an end to lingering manifestations of sexual discrimination. Female varsity sports 
and sports scholarships were offered for the first time. An affirmative action program 
was established to increase the number of women and minority faculty members. The 
lively publication She, and the plethora of women's groups among both students and 
faculty, testified to a "raised consciousness" and a female solidarity that typified the period. 


Katherine Carmichael, now Assistant Dean of Students for Supportive Service and 
no longer burdened with the heavy load of rules to enforce and dormitories to run, turned 
her efforts to giving women more visibility and recognition on campus. In this she worked 
closely with the Women's Forum. They nominated women for honorary degrees and Distin- 
guished Alumnae awards, proposed female speakers for commencement, advocated better 
facilities, especially in physical education, and in general acted as advocates. 

More than advocacy was needed in some cases, and women began turning to the law 
in both symbolic and substantive attacks on lingering inequities. In 1977 UNC teachers 
and students filed sex-discrimination charges over the distribution of lockers in Woollen 
Gym. Although there were more female physical education students than male and women 
made up forty percent of the student body, men were assigned eighty-five percent of the 
lockers. Earlier rumors of a similar suit had encouraged the Morehead Fellowship Trustees 
to open those prestigious scholarships to undergraduate women. 

One of the joint efforts by Carmichael and the Forum was much less confrontational 
but nonetheless had significant long term consequences. They collected and disseminated 
information on courses about and of particular relevance to women. While this promoted 
interest in such offerings, it also heightened awareness of how few such courses existed. 
Out of these efforts came the proposal to establish a women's studies program. 

When compared to the response to building Spencer Hall, that to the women's studies 
proposal illustrates just how much had changed in the previous fifty years. When, in 
March 1974, it was suggested that the Faculty Council investigate the possibility of estab- 
lishing such a program, the proposal met with virtually no opposition, and an ad hoc 
committee was immediately appointed. For many of the women in the group, mostly 
young and untenured, it was, as one said, a labor of love. For the men, including Kenan 
professors and department chairs, it was a duty they took on with some skepticism but 
also a willingness to explore the idea thoroughly. 

Much of the opposition to women's studies stemmed from inertia. UNC had, after 
all, always been a male institution, and both the faculty and administration contained 
a significant number of devoted alumni who, despite the upheavals of the previous few 
years, still could not imagine otherwise. Nonetheless, the spirit of the times had changed 
and, unlike 1923, there was little overt resistance. Questions, especially within the ad hoc 
committee, were what any new untried program would provoke. What would one study 
in a women's studies course? How would the program be structured? Would it attract 
enough interest to justify the expense? When Kenan Professor of Philosophy Maynard 
Adams wondered if enough students would want to major in such a program, Margaret 
O'Conner, assistant professor of English, threw the question back to him. How many 
majors did his department have? Rather sheepishly he reported at the next meeting that 
there were only nine. Adams and the rest of the committee concluded that, since a major 
university without a philosophy department was unthinkable, programs should not be 
judged on the number of majors they might attract. 

One of the most articulate and effective advocates of women's studies was history profes- 
sor Joan Scott. Responding to the charge that it was simply a passing fad spawned by 
a political movement, with no inherent academic merit, she persuasively argued that in 
fact what "began as a political movement has become an intellectually legitimate field 
of inquiry,' one that raised new questions and addressed "issues of importance to historians, 
sociologists, economists, anthropologists and psychologists!' As such, she suggested, it 
was an especially appropriate addition to a major research university. 

Other compelling arguments for women's studies focused on its remedial benefits. 
"There has been neglect, bias, and omission in the fields of study and traditional disciplines 
which should include the study of women," the committee concluded. "In virtually every 
conventionally organized course in the humanities and social sciences there is the subtle 


distortion inherent in the fact that human experience is implicitly understood as male 
experience." Since "a major goal of a liberal education, particularly in the humanities, 
has been to learn to place oneself in the perspective of an honored cultural tradition" 
this omission left women, like blacks, with little with which to identify. In addition, "because 
the systematic scholarly study of women has not been fostered, there is no accurate presen- 
tation of female experience and this absence of substantive information 'undermines the 
accuracy of generalizations about human culture derived from traditional scholarship 
in the humanities! " 

These proved to be persuasive arguments, and in 1977 the committee's recommendations 
were accepted. Women's Studies would constitute a major in the existing interdisciplinary 
studies degree program. Mary Turner Lane, who had been deeply involved in so many 
of the rules committees in the sixties and had amply demonstrated her interest in UNC 
women, agreed to serve as the half-time director. Broad involvement of the university 
community and close cooperation between the director and the advisory board, which 
included teaching assistants and students as well as faculty, were hallmarks of the program. 
Joan Scott, president of the program's advisory board, undertook to develop, with Lane, 
the first women's studies course, Women's Studies 50, an "introduction to multidisciplinary 
approaches to the study of gender!' which brought faculty from many departments to 
lecture on women from the perspective of their disciplines. In addition to the extensive 
administrative details, Lane took as one of her primary responsibilities publicizing the 
program and encouraging the involvement of the university community as a whole. With 
other women faculty, she initiated a national search for women speakers and scholars, 
such as Margaret Mead, to bring to the campus for major adddresses and departmental 
seminars. During Lane's tenure the Duke-UNC Women Studies Research Center was estab- 
lished with a $225,000 grant from the Ford Foundation. Her untiring efforts gave the 
program a visibility and respectability that was invaluable in those early years. In 1979, 
more than 300 students were enrolled in women's studies courses and the program graduated 
its first major, Sandra Jo Martin of Elkin, NC. Martin had been the editor of She and 
an intern with the Council on the Status of Women. 

By 1981 the program was established and Lane was ready to return to her work in the 
School of Education. Dean Samuel Williamson's decision to mount a national search 
for her replacement affirmed the stature of Women's Studies within the University. Jane 
De Hart-Mathews, historian, first director of the women's studies program at UNC Greens- 
boro, and editor of a major women's history anthology, was chosen as Lane's successor. 
De Hart-Mathews strengthened and expanded the program, adding a course on women 
and public policy to the core curriculum for majors, developing the internship program, 
continuing to encourage development of new courses on women and gender studies, and 
securing funds for course development awards. Between fifteen and twenty-five students 
per year receive course credit for working with local, state, and national groups from 
the Orange County Commission for Women, and the Women's Center, to the National 
Organization for Women. The program also sponsors faculty seminars, campus-wide lec- 
tures, discussions and films that raise theoretical questions and present new research related 
to the study of gender. Under De Hart-Mathews leadership, major symposia were held 
on topics such as "Southern Women and Activism: The Legacy of Gertrude Weil," and, 
in 1986, "Black Women's Leadership: Challenges and Strategies!'* Today the program 

*The latter was dedicated to Pauli Murray, Durham native, activist, feminist, civil rights lawyer, author, and 
Episcopal priest, who was not a UNC alumni. As the program for the symposium explained: "Murray's life exempli- 
fied the contradictions inherent in race relations in this country. Her great aunt Mary Ruffin Smith, who was 
white, donated land to the university which fifty-three years later, in 1938, denied Pauli Murray admission as a 
graduate student because of her race. In 1976, she returned to Chapel Hill to the church of her ancestors, the 
Chapel of the Cross, where, as the first woman to be ordained a priest by the Episcopal Church, she delivered 
her first sermon!' 


reaches over 800 students in thirty-three courses, most of them cross listed with other 
departments including history, sociology, anthropology, English, RTVMP, nursing, 
Romance languages, health education, philosophy, and political science. 

One of the continuing goals of the program has been to help Carolina women make 
vital connections between themselves, their academic work, and the world beyond the 
university. In 1976, when for the first time women outnumbered men in the freshman 
class, the Chapel Hill Newspaper predicted that the state's future business and political 
leaders would no longer be predominantly UNC graduates, and that there would be a 
consequent decline in public and private support. Responding to this prediction, Joan 
Scott argued that women's studies could contribute to cementing the loyalty of women 
to the University. "Policy makers continue to think in traditional terms when they think 
of how to increase alumnae gifts to the University',' she charged. "Football teams and athletic 
programs will not secure female support. The more subtle ways of encouraging and devel- 
oping 'loyalty' have not been considered. . .As professionals and wage-earners women 
are in a better position to contribute to alumni funds. And, having had the sense that 
the University provided them with training and with the intellectual and emotional support 
for their adult lives, they are more willing to express gratitude and loyalty in economic ways!' 

Part of the difficulty women had in identifying with the University lay in the lack of 
role models and mentors among the almost entirely male faculty and administration. 
If women students were finally claiming their place in the University in the seventies, women 
as faculty still had a long way to go. Emily M. Coe had been the first woman to teach 
a class at Carolina — in the summer normal school in 1878. But nearly one hundred years 
later when, as undergraduates, women were rapidly approaching fifty percent, only sixteen 
percent of the faculty at all ranks were women; at the level of full professor four percent 
were women. To address this problem, the University instituted an Affirmative Action 
Program in 1973. 

Sallie B. Marks had been the first woman to join the regular faculty. She became an 
assistant professor of elementary education in 1927. Katherine Jocher actually had began 
teaching before Marks but did not receive faculty recognition. "When I came to the Univer- 
sity in 1924, this was strictly a man's university!' she recounted. "There were no women 
on the faculty, not even in the professional schools. But they needed a teacher of casework 
and I qualified. But how to manage this. Dr. Odum, always resourceful, had an idea. 
The course would be listed as given by Mr. Steiner (a professor of sociology and social 
work) and others. I became the "and others" and was so designated by many of my col- 
leagues!' Jocher's formal admission to the faculty did not come until 1934, five years 
after she had received her doctorate and nearly twice that since she had begun teaching. 

Jocher and her female colleagues found that their formal admission to the faculty was 
just that, a mere formality that did not bring with it the prerequisites of rank. "When 
we first attended faculty meeting, no man would sit next to us. We always had a complete 
row of seats to ourselves!' she continued, echoing Mary Graves description of the 1906 
coed's experience. "Nor were we admitted to the Faculty Club when it was organized. 
In fact it took the name of Men's Faculty Club. One young professor glibly remarked, 
'Of course, there would be ladies nights to which faculty women would be invited! This 
to us was no compliment for it deprived us of professional recognition. I think our greatest 
resentment came when, on one occasion, we were not even permitted to sit in after lunch 
when the President of the University addressed the Club!' Not until the fifties were women 
admitted to the Faculty Club and the "Men's" dropped from the name. 

Guion Griffis Johnson found the history department much more in tune with the Faculty 
Club than with Odum. "I overheard, I think it was Dr. Hamilton* who was talking in 

*J. G. deRoullhac Hamilton, department chair and founder of the Southern Historical Collection, for whom 
Hamilton Hall was named. His attitude to women was, however, more "progressive" than his attitude to blacks. 


the hall when I was passing by, who said 'No woman is competent to teach a class in 
history. No matter how qualified, no woman is competent to teach courses except on 
the public school level — elementary or high school. But in the university, no! " 

Unlike his colleagues in the math department, Hamilton is not known to have changed 
his mind about women's capabilities when a woman won the department's top prize. How- 
ever, his successor, Albert Newsome, hired Johnson as an associate professor when the 
war years increased the demand for, and reduced the supply of, qualified teachers. Johnson 
recalls that the response of the military men she taught was considerably warmer than 
that of her colleagues. "I remember so well when I walked into my first class in 1943, 
the men arose. They were all in the Navy and they were supposed to rise when a superior 
came in the room, so they promptly rose, and some of them whistled. And when I ascended 
the platform and motioned for them to be seated, I said, 'Thank you very much, gentlemen. 
I've never been so flattered in all my life. But from here on out, I will do the whistling! 
And they cheered!' 

Johnson's stay in the history department was brief — she was never given tenure de- 
spite her distinguished record as a scholar and her wartime appointment as an associate 
professor — and it was not until 1965 that the department accepted a woman, Gillian Cell, 
in a tenure track position. Similarly, as late as 1970, among approximately sixty members 
of the English department there was only one woman. Outside the humanities and social 
sciences, the pattern tended to be even more rigid. The history department was typical 
of the University in these matters, and Cell's progress reflects the changes in the last twenty 
years. She was hired initially as a lecturer, despite her PhD. Her colleagues, still finding 
the female presence somewhat anomalous, segregated Cell and the only other woman, 
an instructor on a one-year appointment, in a small, unairconditioned office on the top 
floor of Saunders Hall. "It was really a matter of status whether you got a window air 
conditioner or not" Cell explained. "And certainly instructors and fixed term faculty 
did not merit air conditioners. At some point early in my first year one of my senior 
colleagues came into our office with a tape measure and that was when we discovered 
that they had hired another woman and then there were three of us in the office. . . .When 
it got ridiculous was when it so happened that the three of us became pregnant at the 
same time. This was a very difficult thing for the department to deal with. They had 
barely got used to having women around, let alone pregnant women, and I don't think 
anybody ever looked at us below the neck . . ." 

In due time Cell became the first tenured woman in the history department and, continu- 
ing the pattern, the University's first full time affirmative action officer (1981-83), the 
first woman to chair the history department (1983-85), and, in 1985, the first female Dean 
of the College of Arts and Sciences. As affirmative action officer, Cell stepped into a 
position created ten years earlier in response to federal authorities' assessment that the 
University was not in compliance with the new affirmative action regulations intended 
to ensure equal opportunities for women and minorities. At that time Chancellor Taylor 
had appointed Douglas Hunt affirmative action officer in addition to his duties as vice 
chancellor. To monitor the AAO's progress, Barbara Schnorrenberg, Cell's former office 
mate in the history department, headed University Women for Affirmative Action (UWAA). 
The group, in which Cell was an active participant, objected to Hunt's part-time attention 
to the issues and argued for the next ten years that a member of the faculty should have 
the position on a full time basis. 

When Christopher Fordham succeeded Taylor in 1981, he announced his commitment 
to affirmative action. He agreed with UWAA and challenged Cell to, in effect, put her 
money where her mouth was by becoming his affirmative action officer. She took the 
position despite its inherent potential for alienating both advocates and opponents of 


affirmative action. "It was a matter of commitment, an opportunity to see If [I] could 
do something, and a feeling that it was important to try, [that it was] worth the risk!' 

In her new job, Cell joined a handful of women in administration, where their presence 
was even smaller than in the faculty. Of the ten deans of professional schools, one — the 
Dean of the School of Nursing — was a woman. Of 138 chairs and directors of departments, 
curricula, and programs in both Arts and Sciences and Health Affairs, less than ten percent 
were women. "Lack of experience" was one of the reasons cited. This was, in effect, a 
circular argument since women were seldom given the opportunity to gain experience. 
As an associate dean of the graduate school whose abilities were highly respected, Cell 
herself had been passed over for dean in favor of a man who had chaired a department 
and had been vice chancellor. 

Cell's task as affirmative action officer was not simple. Figures for the ten years following 
the inception of the affirmative action program showed little progress. The percentage 
of women in the faculty had increased little if any, especially in tenured positions. The 
problem was not so much that women were not being hired. It was that they were not 
being tenured. Advocates such as UWAA suspected that some departments felt that they 
could establish new positions if they were able to hire a woman or a black faculty member. 
It appeared that they were either hiring very casually — appointing people who were not 
tenurable — or, from a more cynical perspective, hiring people and letting them go, but 
expecting nonetheless to retain the position. Such concerns led the group to consider 
a class action suit and led Cell to accept Fordham's offer. 

Cell found the job even more difficult than anticipated, the goals less easy to achieve 
than they appeard to be from outside the office. The concept of affirmative action quotas, 
or goals, was originated for business and industry, and its application to academia was 
complicated by the decline in hiring levels after the boom of the sixties, a decline that 
coincided with the initiation of affirmative action. Jobs had been filled by white men 
and too few were resigning or retiring to allow hiring emough women and minorities 
to redress the imbalance quickly. 

If those were the cold, objective facts — the hard reasons that made it difficult to change 
the numbers — there were also subjective reasons. These were just as difficult to change. 
Cell's years of experience within an academic department helped her deal with both the 
real constraints under which departments labored and those areas where change was pos- 
sible, and to recognize the difference. She thus placed her emphasis on sensitizing her 
colleagues to the needs of women and minorities, especially those who were the only 
non-white-male in a situation where the perception of collegiality or the lack thereof 
might be the deciding factor in gaining tenure. Told by one chair that his department 
had failed to give tenure to any of several women they had hired, one after the other, 
because none had not been collegial, Cell suggested that they were either, for some reason, 
hiring women with a particular personality problem, or that the problem was within the 
department itself. While this message was not well received in this case — the chairman 
walked out on her — she worked to spread it throughout the University. 

Along with her departmental experience, Cell credited her "support group" with helping 
her do her job. Cell, Mary Turner Lane, Joan Scott, and a small handful of other faculty 
activists had met weekly to share information and to plan ways to address the problems 
women were facing. One participant recalled that, since each one of the small group was 
strongly identified with women's issues on campus, they predicted that, if they ever appeared 
together at one table in the Carolina Inn, they would be suspected of plotting to overthrow 
the university. When they finally did meet for lunch at the Inn, that was precisely the 
greeting they received from the men at the next table. While the comments were made 


in jest, they do reflect an awareness of the change women were fostering on campus and 
a half-serious notion that they might indeed be capable of bringing it about. 

Collective as well as individual action contributed to both the notion and efficacy of 
female power. Faculty women created organizations to strengthen their position; in 1974 
they supported a proposal by Professor Rhea Stambaugh to the Faculty Council to establish 
a committee on the status of women. The committee includes men as well as women 
and has presented studies and significant recommendations annually to the Faculty Council 
and the Chancellor. Three years later in 1977, they started the Association for Women 
Faculty as a support network and forum for discussion of women's issues in the university. 
The Association's recently established Mary Turner Lane award for "outstanding contribu- 
tions to the lives of women on the UNC-CH campus" is a recognition of the continuing 
need for strong role models and mentors among and on behalf of Carolina women. 

Much has changed in the twenty years since the walls that kept women on the margins 
of university life began to fall. Today women constitute approximately sixty percent of 
undergraduate students, fifty-five percent of graduate students, and thirty-nine percent 
of those enrolled in the professional schools; they receive thirty-four percent of doctorates 
awarded. While numerical growth within the student body has been significant, at the faculty 
and administrative level it remains more a matter of style than of substance; twenty-one 
percent of the faculty are female, compared with sixteen and one-half percent in 1972, 
but among tenured faculty, less than thirteen percent are women. Nonetheless, the Affirma- 
tive Action Office, the Women's Studies Program, and faculty and student organizations 
keep issues of gender before the university community and no one today would say, as 
the Daily Tar Heel did in 1923, "Women Not Wanted Here!' 

Bit by bit women have pushed their way into the University. And it has required pushing 
on their part. Since Alderman opened that first door, women have had to take the initiative. 
Once the battle of Spencer Hall was over, resistance tended to be passive, a matter of 
benign neglect and inertia, rather than active opposition. Women were welcome to come, 
if they wished. But except for the prodding of the Dean of Women's office, little thought 
was given to their needs, nor with the exception of the war years, was any specific attempt 
made to expand their role in the University. This does not mean that women acted alone. 
From Alderman's initial efforts, to Graham's advocacy of the women's dormitory, to Ford- 
ham's appointment of Gillian Cell as Dean, some men have recognized the legitimacy 
of women's claims on Carolina. If there have been many Hamiltons, there have also been 

The University is a microcosm of its society and what has happened here has not occurred 
in a vacuum. In admitting women, Alderman and his trustees were responding to the 
growing perception that at least some women were entitled to pursue careers and and 
to develop talents that would be valuable to their families and communities. The Battle 
of Spencer Hall was a reprise of similar events at other colleges and illustrates a recurrent 
theme in the history of women and minorities. As they move into new areas of occupations, 
women are initially tolerated or ignored as long as their numbers are few and they are 
quiet and reasonably well behaved. However, once their numbers increase they begin to 
insist on being acknowledged as legitimate participants in the activities, resources, and 
power of the institution, they then are perceived as a threat and find themselves under 
attack. This was precisely what happened when women and their supporters began than 
campaign for Spencer Hall. 

However, having given in once, then twice, the University could not turn back. As college 
became a common way for middle-class women to spend a few years before marriage, 
their numbers at Carolina slowly increased. But not until a critical mass was reached 
in the sixties and seventies, not until women themselves, inspired by the women's movement 


and supported by the mandate of the federal government, threw off the parental control 
of the university and demanded an equal share of its power and benefits, could it be 
said that Carolina was no longer just a man's school. In the last twenty years women 
have come out from the attics and corners of university life; they have ceased to be anoma- 
lies, out of place in world not meant for them. 

The men of 1923 who feared that the presence of women would alter their university 
were absolutely right. Carolina has changed. It is no longer the institution they sought 
to preserve. Women are here, they are an inextricable part of the college community and 
curriculum. Ninety years after they first entered classrooms, the University is beginning 
to provide them with a college experience comparable to that which has made it so dear 
to generations of Carolina men, one which will enable them to grow in the understanding 
of themselves and their connection with the larger world. Now we will begin to see just 
what this "experiment" in coeducation really means.