THE OFFICE OF THE DEAN OF WOMEN
THE founding of the Women's League in 1890 by the undergraduate women and their friends resulted in a greater feeling of unity than had previously existed among the women, and in a realization of their needs (see Part IX: The Michigan League). Women were coming to the University in ever increasing numbers; in the five-year period 1885-90 their enrollment rose from 196 to 369, and in 1892 there were 531 women students.
Eliza Maria Mosher, 1896-1902. — In 1896 the first dean of women was appointed to give special attention to the needs and welfare of the women students — Dr. Eliza Maria Mosher ('75m). Dean Mosher's special interest was in physical education. It is significant that she developed classes in hygiene, which she herself taught, and organized the Department of Physical Education for Women. She was very influential in the campaign for Barbour Gymnasium and in planning the building, which was to include not only a gymnasium, but also a small auditorium (Sarah Caswell Angell Hall), social rooms, a dining-room, and a kitchen. She resigned in 1902 to return to the practice of medicine, in which her greatest interest lay.
Myra Beach Jordan, 1902-22. — The second dean of women was Myra Beach Jordan. Myra Beach was born near Battle Creek in 1863. She came to study at the University in 1889 and remained two years. After returning in 1893, as the wife of Frederick P. Jordan, Assistant Librarian, she took work in the University, and in June, 1906, took her degree "as of the class of 1893."
As soon as she was appointed Dean of Women, Mrs. Jordan made a great point of knowing the girls personally. She reduced organization and red tape to the simplest terms, moved the office from the faculty room to one of the parlors of Barbour Gymnasium, where it is still situated (1940), and made herself a vital force in the life of the women. Miss Agnes Wells, now Dean of Women at the University of Indiana, wrote:
Mrs. Jordan came as Dean of Women in my senior year and the social life in the women's world began to develop. The girls of 1903 gave their first class play (the Senior Play), very crude to be sure, but we enjoyed it. We also had the first class breakfast with Dr. Angell and Mrs. Jordan as our guests. One hundred and twenty-four out of one hundred and thirty-five girls in the class attended the breakfast. These class activities have been carried out ever since.
In the following year Mrs. Jordan planned and wrote the first Junior Girls' Play, a play given by the juniors in honor of the seniors, now a tradition and one of the more important events on the girls' social calendar (see Part IX: Junior Girls' Play).
Dean Jordan's greatest interest, and perhaps her most noteworthy achievement, was the improvement of actual living conditions of the women. With the help of the Women's League, especially of sorority women, and against a great deal of opposition, she organized the approved houses for women, which were termed "League houses." It was required that women no longer live in men's rooming houses, and that every house for women have decent, well-kept rooms, a parlor in which to entertain callers, and adequate bathroom facilities. Mrs. Jordan's interest in housing went further in the stimulation of interest in dormitories, and during her regime, Helen Newberry Residence and Martha Cook Building (1915), Alumnae House (1917), Betsy Barbour House (1920), and Adelia Page 284Cheever House (1921) were given to the University by interested friends and alumni.
The student employment and placement work now carried out in the Office of the Dean of Women began when, in 1902, Mrs. Jordan helped to find work for a young woman student who had arrived in Ann Arbor with only a small sum of money but with a large determination to get a college education. Mrs. Jordan found homes in which this young woman (now the director of Stockwell Hall) did housework and took care of children to help defray her living expenses. The idea of a college girl's doing such work was new in those days. The group needing such aid slowly increased, and in 1910, when about thirty girl students were working their way through school, a special employment committee composed of Dean Jordan and two others was organized. Its purpose was to put girls' employment on a business basis and to arrange a schedule of wages. As the demand for work grew it became necessary to organize a kind of bureau of employment in the Office of the Dean of Women, where girls in need of work and people interested in employing students might register and be brought together. At the present writing (1940), more than one hundred and fifty women students are earning all of their expenses and more than five hundred are partially self-supporting. The supervision of this group occupies a large part of the time of one of the staff, since it involves arranging employment, adjusting wages and standards of work and hours, supervising the health of the group, and acting as special adviser to all employed women. Since the opening of the women's dormitories, all waitress positions are held by women students. The Michigan League provides others with work, and many private homes and business firms use student help. In general this group of students maintains a high scholastic average.
The work now done by the Office of the Dean of Women is the direct outgrowth of Mrs. Jordan's co-operation with a Women's League committee.
When Mrs. Jordan retired in 1922, she had set the pattern for housing organization, had encouraged and helped to formulate student government, and had sponsored, if not actually planned, many of the now traditional social events of the school year. Although many of the girls now at the University do not know Mrs. Jordan, she is still a very great influence in their campus life. The Regents accompanied their acceptance of her resignation with the following statement:
It is with feelings of genuine regret that the resignation of Mrs. Jordan, as Dean of Women, is accepted. She has served in that capacity for twenty years. When undertaking the work at Ann Arbor problems presented were many, but new. The method of handling the situation as it grew and developed required attention to detail, tact, and a personality — all of which during the entire period of her work she has apparently appreciated. Not alone has she materially improved the housing condition of the women students on the campus but she has throughout her career taken a personal interest in ways not shown in public that should be appreciated by every one interested in the welfare of the University women.
It is strikingly to her credit that thanks to her methods no untoward circumstance or happening of a serious nature has arisen among women students in recent years. When it is considered how many there are and how rapid has been the growth of the University, it is small wonder the Governing Body feels grateful to Mrs. Jordan for the results which must be accredited to her.
(R.P., 1920-23, pp. 364-65.)
Jean Hamilton, 1922-26. — Mrs. Jordan was succeeded by Miss Jean Hamilton (Vassar '00). In 1923-24 the position of assistant dean of women was created. It was held that year by Miss Marion Hollings Blood (Pennsylvania '20, A.M. ibid. '23), and then by Miss Grace Evaleen Page 285Richards (Minnesota '10, A.M. ibid. '17).
Before Mrs. Jordan's resignation, the Alumnae Council had undertaken to raise a million dollars for a woman's building. The organization of this campaign was under way. In 1924, Dean Hamilton assumed the duties of chairman of the campaign, and with the publicity firm of Tamblyn and Brown, Incorporated, of New York City, launched the drive for funds. Because the campaign was to take a great deal of Dean Hamilton's time and attention, Mrs. Amy Hobart was appointed temporary Assistant Dean of Women. In 1926 Miss Hamilton and her assistant, Mrs. Hobart, resigned.
Committee of advisers, 1926-30. — At the suggestion of President Little, the Regents did not continue the office of dean of women, but appointed a committee of three advisers of women — Miss Grace E. Richards, already a member of the staff, Miss Beatrice W. Johnson (Maine '24, A.M. ibid. '25), and Miss Alice C. Lloyd ('16). The task which the advisers undertook was to make the office as informal and friendly as possible, to support student government, and to know the girls personally in as large numbers as possible. During the years 1926-30, the enrollment increased each year, and the housing problem was again a very serious one. Prices were high, and rooms were inadequate (see Part IX: The Housing of Women Students). A report was submitted at this time to the Regents, and the result was the building of Mosher-Jordan Halls to house 440 girls.
Miss Johnson resigned in the fall of 1929. Mrs. Jordan was asked to return for one year in charge of the office, and Mrs. Byrl Fox Bacher (B.M. Univ. Mich. School of Music '29), for many years Dean of Women at the School of Music, which is now a unit of the University, came into the office as the third adviser, to replace Miss Johnson.
Alice Crocker Lloyd, 1930. — Early in the administration of President Ruthven the Board of Regents re-established the position of dean of women, effective July 1, 1930, and appointed Miss Alice C. Lloyd as Dean. Two assistant deans of women were chosen, to begin their new duties at the same time — Mrs. Bryl Bacher and Miss Jeannette Perry (Vassar '04, A.M. Michigan '24).
In 1930 the staff was further increased by two half-time assistants to the dean. Miss Ellen Burden Stevenson ('20, M.S. '30), Instructor in Geology, aided in the inspection of houses, and Miss Ethel Agnes McCormick (Columbia '23), Assistant Professor of Physical Education, was also appointed Social Director in the dean of women's office. With the opening of the University year 1932-33 Miss McCormick left the Department of Physical Education to become a resident social director of the Michigan League Building; in addition, she continued to assist the dean and was at that time designated Social Director of Women in the Office of the Dean of Women. In 1933 Miss Stevenson resigned to become Business Manager of the Dormitories. Mrs. Martha C. Lawton Ray ('36) was in 1935 appointed Assistant to the Dean of Women, on a part-time basis, in addition to her duties as Social Director of Mosher Hall.
Jordan, Myra B. MS, "Report of the Dean of Women, 1914-1915." 2 pp. In Harry B. Hutchins Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
Jordan, Myra B. MS, "Report of the Dean of Women from October 1, 1909, to July 1, 1920." 6 pp. In Harry B. Hutchins Papers. Mich. Hist. Coll., Univ. Mich.
President's Report, Univ. Mich., 1896-1909, 1921-40.
Proceedings of the Board of Regents …, 1896-1940.