Celebrating 50 Years of Co-Education At Holy Cross

Nathan Howard ’25

News Editor

2022 marks the 50th anniversary of co-education at the College of the Holy Cross. Although Holy Cross had employed female faculty members since 1963, the first being Psychology Professor Maureen Begley Zlody, 1972 was the first year that women were admitted to the institution as students. Upon graduation in 1974, “14 pioneering women who had transferred to Holy Cross after their sophomore years at other schools became the first women to cross the commencement stage.” The first fully coeducational Holy Cross class graduated in 1976, where Jane M. Hawkins became the first female valedictorian in the College’s history. Additionally, in 1975, Mabel Lang, PhD, a professor of Greek at Bryn Mawr College became the first female commencement speaker in Holy Cross history. 2022 also marks the 50th anniversary of the enactment of the federal Title IX Education Amendment of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibited gender-based discrimination in any school or education program receiving financial assistance from the federal government. 

In a written address to the Holy Cross community regarding the 50th anniversary of co-education at the College, President Vincent D. Rougeau stated that “We have communicated previously about our aim to commemorate this milestone both by looking back at our history and honoring the pioneers of coeducation and by reflecting on where we are today and exploring the challenges we face in becoming the best community that we can be.” Additionally, President Rougeau announced that Holy Cross will celebrate this milestone anniversary through a two-year commemorative program titled “Lighting the Way: Fifty Years of Women at Holy Cross.” The two-year length of the program symbolizes the two years of 1972 to 1974, when the first female student entered the College to when the first female student became a Holy Cross alumna. President Rougeau explained that “We will use that two-year timeframe to celebrate, honor, reflect and consider the impact of coeducation on Holy Cross’ past, present and future.” 

Planning for this two-year commemoration is already under way, according to President Rougeau. The 2022 President’s Faculty Symposium focused on this momentous anniversary and was titled “Teaching at Intersections: On the 50th Anniversary of Coeducation.” 

Additionally, the Holy Cross Archives Collections recently published an online exhibition regarding the impact of women at Holy Cross. The exhibition is titled “And Thus Entered Women: The Beginnings of Co-Education at Holy Cross from 1967-1976.” On Tuesday, October 25, 2022, The Office of the College Chaplains hosted a talk by New York Times bestselling author Cole Arthur Riley in the Mary Chapel. This event was one of many that will be held by the Office of the College Chaplains as part of their commemoration of the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Holy Cross titled “Raising Our Voices in Church.”

President Rougeau also  announced the  formation of a campus committee composed of faculty, staff, and students to help “coordinate, plan and promote events and other programming” for this important milestone. The committee will be chaired by Kristyn Dyer ‘94, Director of Alumni Relations, and Vickie Langhor, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies. President Rougeau concluded his written address by thanking those who are serving on the committee and stated that the College invites its community’s “participation in numerous ways, including by sharing with us ideas for events, stories and other means of marking the historic occasion.”

Coeducation at Holy Cross Image courtesy of HC Archives

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