In September 1970, 132 women joined 452 men in the first official coeducation class at Colgate. Before they arrived, a number of female transfer students were already studying at Colgate, bringing the total number of women on campus to 214 that fall.
Fifty years later, the contributions of Colgate's female students, alumnae, faculty, and administrators have prepared Colgate for success in its third century.
In Our Words
Colgate invites its alumnae to reminisce about their experiences at the University over the past 50 years, reflecting on highs, lows, victories, growth, and more.
I remember the Phys Ed requirement. Men could wear whatever they wanted to gym classes; we had to wear these hideous polyester gym suits.Alice Diamond Class of 1975
I was a science major at Colgate. Although I couldn’t take as many humanities courses as I would have liked, I am incredibly thankful to my science professors for treating me as an equal: John Cochran, Jack Mitchell, Joe Turner.Kathleen Leppig Class of 1980
I am so grateful for my experiences at Colgate. I travelled around the world. Yugoslavia Study Group 1977, Scotland, England, France, Italy, Sweden, Hungary, Thailand, Taiwan, Japan. Many great memories.Elizabeth (Nociti) Daniello Class of 1979
Being in the class of '78, I formed incredible friendships with amazing women. Moving to different parts of the globe to pursue our careers and goals, we have turned four years into a lifetime of friendship, support, laughs, and tears.
Susan (Hubbard) Johnson Class of 1978
After an initial semester exchange program to Colgate in 1970 from Skidmore (all women at the time), I eagerly transferred to Colgate where I had found a fuller college experience; this translated to a more engaging (co-ed) social life to coincide with great academic learning. It was exciting to be part of the novelty of women on campus!Gail Packer Class of 1972
I remember well the 1975 January Washington Study Group led by Professor David Stern. Nixon had resigned and Gerald Ford was President. We were immersed in Washington politics and it was truly another world!Joyce (Alpert) Fanelli Class of 1976
Happy November 13, Colgate Day! I still remember moving in as a freshman to 404 East Andrews Hall that first fall Colgate was coed. My roommates Sarah Kinison and Ruth Weinstein and I had a working fireplace, and beautiful view facing East and West Hall. Everything was possible.Judy (Page) Heitzman Class of 1974
Graduated 1972, approximately 30 women in class of 500. I was the only gal in all my classes. Fondly remember the greeting to the class, Good Morning Gentlemen and Lady! There was no campus housing available and several of us as at first visiting students were housed at the Colgate Inn. Will never forget J. Kistler being so excited to have a woman in his Shakespeare class to read the female parts. If the bell had rung and I was running up the stairs to the class, he'd yell, "Hurry up, Desdamona, curtain is going up!". There were not late entries, he'd close the door when bell rang, and no cut policy. Fred Busch brought tears to our eyes as he finished last class on The Great Gatsby. As for swimming at the pool, no female locker room, had to change in visiting team locker room, then walk through the men's locker room...quite an interesting experience for someone who had always gone to all girl Catholic schools. Not to mention, the cold, the Sorrel boots, and the fur coats from the antique stores. And most of all the most breathtaking scenery.Christine (Schroth) Scott Class of 1972
I am a proud member of the The Swinging 'Gates. As Colgate's only all-female a cappella group, it was the first official women’s organization recognized by the University. Founded in 1974, the group broke gender barriers and introduced women as official ambassadors of what had been an all-male institution. Our experience as members of the Swinging ‘Gates was powerful. We rehearsed, travelled and performed together for functions on campus and beyond. We represented our university with talent and intelligence, enthusiasm and grace. We supported each other. We had fun. We learned to be leaders.Ellen Rosen Keller Class of 1984
The friends I made in KED are still my closest friends in the world. It helped being able to cut through the bathroom to the boys dorm...genius. Who thought of that?Betsy Lawrence Class of 1982
I was a member of both the Swinging 'Gates, the first extracurricular women's group at Colgate, and Gamma Phi, the first national sorority on campus. I was surrounded by thoughtful, intelligent, witty, compassionate, supportive women. Learning from your peers is as much a part of the college experience as what you learn from professors. I can only hope present students have the great experience I did, inside and outside the classroom.
Helen (Salzhauer) Weinstein Class of 1986
Colgate built me up so much as a woman that I was shocked when I entered graduate school at Princeton Theological Seminary by how many male classmates didn't think I was their equals both academically and professionally. I shocked them! I used all of my Colgate reserve from four years and proved not only was I their equal, I was also better prepared academically and an empowered leader. Thank you Colgate!Abigail Henrich Class of 1998
I was fortunate to be a part of the Swinging Gates from 1993-1996. The group never lost sight of its place as the first female group at Colgate, with its founding in 1974. Our founding members are given “celebrity status” and we love to hear the stories of the flyers they posted to recruit the original members.
For me personally, I grew as a person and as a woman thanks to my fellow ‘Gates. We were all so different - different backgrounds, different majors, different friend groups - but we appreciated each other and learned from and enjoyed each other during all those hours singing together. I count these women as some of my very best friends, and am honored to be a tiny part of the amazing history of women at Colgate.Audrey (Sperano) DiSpigna Class of 1996