1876 to 1885
"An institution of learning must, adapt itself to the public by which it is surrounded, and to which it is for support. . . . We need not, with our present equipments rightly utilized, turn any young man or woman away from the doors of this University. We have here facilities for furnishing instruction in any non-professional study. I would make no distinction of sex, as regards to a choice of study. I would not require of every student that he should pursue a certain curriculum, though I would strongly advise it, and would not grant a degree without it."
David Jayne Hill, Inaugural Address, June 25, 1879
Belva Lockwood becomes the first woman lawyer to be admitted to practice before the Supreme Court. Offended by the legal and economic discriminations of women in the U.S., she lobbies on behalf of legislation favorable to women and gains national prominence as a lecturer on women's rights.
William Bucknell is persuaded by President Hill to help the University out of a desperate financial situation. Earlier, Bucknell had voted to relocate the entire University to a site in Delaware County. He had withdrawn his support from the school when he resigned from the Board of Trustees in 1863. However, Bucknell now plans to give the college $50,000 if it can match the same amount in pledges, agrees to replace the boards of management by a single 20-member board of trustees, and consents to other reforms. In June, 1886 the Trustees vote to change the name of the institution from The University at Lewisburg to Bucknell University in honor of the man credited with saving the school. Among the $140,000 William Bucknell donates to the University after 1881, were scholarships and endowed prizes for students at the Female Institute. As president of the board of trustees at the time co-education was beginning, he was influential in shaping the University's policy. Eveline Stanton Gundy describes his position in a special women's issue of the Bucknell Mirror in 1905. "He warmly favored allowing the women to enter the college. Those who know him well assert that he was influenced to this policy by his belief that a woman should have an education if she wanted it as well as a man, and that economic reasons led him to favor co-educational institutions rather than separate colleges for women."
Theiss; Oliphant; Bucknell Mirror, February 1905
Katherine Larison is appointed principal of the Bucknell Institute after the death of Principal Jones. During her fifteen year appointment, she founds the Students' Loan Association to help poor girls obtain an education and is almost solely responsible for establishing the Lewisburg Alumnae Club and the YWCA.
Bucknell Mirror, 6/10/1897
Said to be the oldest living graduate, Rev. A. J. Hay, a member of the class of 1852, visits Bucknell in the fall accompanied by three young women, Lizzie Lanning, Frances Rush, and his daughter Annie Hay. On September 6, these three young ladies become the first women to be admitted to any class in the college. Frances Rush will continue her studies and graduate A.B. in 1887.
*This photo is Francis Rush Lendom and her son.
Bartol in Bucknell Now and Then, University Archives
A female student will later write about the beginnings of co-education in the yearbook, saying in part: The college woman at Bucknell had a struggle in the beginning of her career. There were only three of her and she was not received with the most cordial enthusiasm. She belonged to the "collegiate class" organized at the Institute . . . She and her two brave comrades were allowed to recite in the college classes with the men, and to do all the work required of the men. They were therefore college women. This honor must have been too great to bear, for we only hear of one of these women holding out until she received her degree . . . Since 1890 there have been women in every class, the total number who have been graduated being thirty-five, though a larger number than this had matriculated. There are at present eighty-one women in the college, of who sixteen are in the Senior Class.
"Katherine Larison, principle of the institute, set many movements afoot. Under her the Y.W.C.A. was formed. Innumerable changes and improvements were made in the cirriculum and in the management of the Institute under her long service-the longest of all Institute principalships."
Miss Edith Hedges, elocution teacher at the Female Institute, is the first woman appointed to teach at the University. She is one of 10 faculty members at the time. In 1887, she and Mrs. President Hill will direct the reading of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream and receive rave reviews, thus ushering in a new interest in dramatics at the college.
Chella Scott, having been admitted to the University in 1884 after graduating from the Female Institute that spring, becomes the first woman to graduate from the University, earning a bachelor of science degree with honors. Even though she is granted the traditional right of giving valedictorian speech, she is "excused" from delivering her address at commencement on June 24.
Theiss, Oliphant, Dysinger