A Legacy of Success
It's been 125 years since Elizabeth Bender and sisters Zatae and Hildegarde Longsdorff became the first female students to enroll at Dickinson College. Dickinson continues to mark this important anniversary with special events and programs that include a recent two-day conference, Celebrating 125 Years of Women at Dickinson: A Legacy of Success.
Opening on International Women’s Day (March 8), the conference highlighted the accomplishments of Dickinson women and explored issues relating to all women in leadership roles.
Guest-speaker Muska Assad, an Afghan who attended the University of Richmond through the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women program, spoke about her quest to earn a B.A. despite profound cultural barriers. The conference also featured a Women's Center Open House, panel discussions by distinguished alumnae and the unveiling of the Zatae Longsdorff historical panel in the Rector Science Complex. Longsdorff, a trailblazing physician and politician and a member of the class of 1887, was the first female to graduate from Dickinson.
According to Susannah Bartlow, director of the Women's Center, the conference was enlightening and encouraging. “Our alumnae shared some inspiring insights, and our current students, faculty and staff showed great support for this historic occasion. It is remarkable to be present with so many generations of Dickinson women and men who are committed to the community,” she said [article continues below].
The conference is part of an ongoing celebration at Dickinson that began in 2008 with the establishment of a Women’s Experiences at Dickinson College blog and a Hands-on History program. The festivities continue with the Hurrah for Coeducation! exhibit, an awards ceremony on March 25, a women's-studies consortium on March 27 and a student-research symposium on April 15. Students in Kim Rogers' oral-history class are taking oral histories of noted Dickinson alumnae; these records will be preserved in the archives for future generations.
Although much has changed in the 125 years since women students first joined the Dickinson community, there is still more work to be done. Bartlow said that Dickinson's support of this yearlong anniversary celebration is testament to the college's ever-growing commitment to gender equity. "I'm honored to be part of this transformation and excited about the legacies to come," she said.
See video discussions about alumnae leaders and Dickinson's women scientists.
Read the press release about this event.
Learn more about Dickinson alumnae in the winter 2010 issue of Dickinson Magazine.
View the full schedule of Women at Dickinson events.
To purchase 125th-Anniversary of Women notecards, visit the Campus Bookstore or Biblio Café.
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds ’71
Story by MaryAlice Bitts