The Faces of Change


The Faces of Change
Women at Union College


When Union College was chartered in 1795, the founders never even considered the possibility of female participation, either as students or educators. The world was decades away from the Suffragette movement.
When Union opened its doors, the role of women was clearly defined: They would be wives and mothers and little else.
It is not surprising that a small group of independent, forward-thinking, academically gifted women helped push open the doors of coeducation at Union.
“The Face of Change: Women at Union College” focuses on pioneers who played vital roles in the integration of women at the College. Urania Sheldon Nott, the third wife of Union president Eliphalet Nott, helped expand the view of women in education when she founded a private school “for young ladies” that started in Troy and moved to Schenectady. Florence Folger Buckland was the first woman to earn a Master’s Degree (in electrical engineering) at Union College in 1925. And Sally Brown Van Schaick proved that women could be wives, mothers and students, as she was the first woman to earn a B.A. degree only by taking night classes in 1958.
These three women made their mark before Union officially admitted women to the college.
On July 3, 1969, the Trustees of Union College voted to approve coeducation at Union College after years of protracted debate. Under the auspices of President Harold Martin, the first class of female students matriculated in the fall of 1970.
This exhibit also recognizes Katherine Stout, ‘73, the first woman to be formally accepted at Union College, as well as Ruth Ann Evans, the first woman to earn faculty promotion.
With courage and commitment, these women and others, alongside students of color, helped build the foundation for a more diverse leadership, faculty and student body at Union College. Today, women represent 47 percent of enrolled students.
Many thanks to Marlaine DesChamps, Andrea Belair, Leslie Barkley, Gail Golderman, Jennifer Goodwin and Frances Maloy for their help in making this exhibit possible.


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