The History of Bucknell
The Female Institute
Although the Female Institute began instruction in 1852, it wasn’t until 1883 that college courses were opened to women. Bucknell, though, was committed to equal educational opportunities for women.
A striking instance of this commitment occurs in the words of David Jayne Hill of the Class of 1874 and president of the university from 1879 to 1888: "We need in Pennsylvania, in the geographical centre of the state, a University, not in the German but in the American sense, where every branch of non-professional knowledge can be pursued, regardless of distinction of sex. I have no well-matured plan to announce as to the sexes; but the Principal of the Female Seminary proposes to inaugurate a course for females equal to that pursued at Vassar; the two sexes having equal advantages, though not reciting together."
Within five years of opening, enrollment had grown so sharply that the university built a new hall – Larison Hall – to accommodate the Female Institute. Women could venture into town only in the company of a female teacher, one who had a minimum of six years’ experience in handling girls.