A History of Women at Lehigh: 1972-2006

1972
The Women’s Studies program is established.
The Women’s Studies program is established and expands from a few courses to nearly 30 with a Major, and as of 2008 a Minor and a Graduate Certificate are available.
1973
Coeducation Review Committee recommends that coeducation be adopted permanently.
A study by the Coeducation Review Committee recommends that coeducation be adopted permanently, saying the admission of women has had “a salutary effect” on the operating budget and on Lehigh’s goal to achieve academic parity among its undergraduate colleges.
1974
The Women’s Caucus is refused recognition.
The Women’s Caucus is refused recognition because men are not permitted to join. Approval is granted after the group modifies its by-laws.
1975
First sororities are recognized.
Alpha Phi, followed by Alpha Gamma Delta and Gamma Phi Beta, become the first sororities recognized by the university.
1975
Women's Resource Center opens.
The Women’s Resource Center, sponsored by the Women’s Caucus, opens in the University Center.
1976
Women constitute more than 20% of undergraduates.
Women constitute more than 20% of the undergraduate student body for the first time. Also this year, Eileen Canzian ’77 becomes the first woman editor in chief of The Brown and White.
1977

Nancy Maginnes Kissinger

Nancy Maginnes is elected to Board of Trustees.
Nancy Maginnes Kissinger becomes the first woman elected to the Board of Trustees.
1977
Class President, Susan M. Bschorr, speaks at commencement.
The first woman class president, Susan M. Bschorr, addresses the class of 1977 at their commencement.
1979
Glee Club merges with Women's Chorus.
The Glee Club, an all male vocal ensemble, merges with the Women’s Chorus to form the Lehigh University Choir.
1979
Women's Roundtable is formed.
The Women’s Roundtable is formed by the provost’s office to suggest ways to improve life for women at Lehigh. Its survey of undergraduates and alumnae shows that women want more help in making career choices and looking for jobs.
1980
25% of undergraduates are women.
Women make up 25% of undergraduate student enrollment, the highest percentage at this time.
1981
Lehigh celebrates 10 years of coeducation.
In proclaiming a year-long celebration of 10 years of coeducation at Lehigh, President Lewis writes, “the advent of women has made a positive and profound difference in quality of university life. Their presence and contributions have enriched our lives together in many ways –academic, social, cultural and athletic.”
1983

Marsha Duncan

Marsha Duncan becomes vice president.
Marsha Duncan becomes Lehigh’s first vice president, taking charge of student affairs.
1985
1/3 of undergraduates are women.
Women make up roughly one third of undergraduate student enrollment.
1988
Lehigh community rallies for better relationship between sexes.
In response to an incident of sexual harassment on campus, 500 students, faculty and staff members rally to demand an improvement in relations between the sexes on campus. Three months later, two commissions of faculty, students and staff, one on minorities and one on women, are created to study how Lehigh could better address the needs and concerns of women and minorities. The commissions make 53 recommendations.
1990
Lehigh Child Care opens.
The Lehigh University Child Care Center opens on the Murray H. Goodman Campus.
1990
Playboy and Penthouse are removed from the bookstore.
Playboy and Penthouse are removed from the university bookstore because “they don’t portray the positive relationship the university is trying to develop between men and women.” Opponents call the ban censorship.
1991
Women's Center opens.
The Lehigh University Women’s Center opens in Johnson Hall. A result of the commissions on women and minorities, the center provides services to students and staff.
1994
Class of '94 graduates with all women officers.
The Class of 1994 is the first to graduate with all women class officers: Lori Owen, president; Meredith McGowan, vice president; Erika Giemza, secretary; and Carolyn Gredys, treasurer.
1995
39% of undergraduates are women.
Women make up 39% of the incoming Class of 1999, the highest percentage to date.
1996
Alpha Phi moves to the Hill.
Alpha Phi, the university’s first sorority, accepts an offer of a house on the Hill for fall of 1996, becoming the first sorority to obtain permanent housing there.
2001
Lehigh celebrates 30 years of coeducation.
Lehigh celebrates 30 years of coeducation.
2006

Alice P. Gast

Alice P. Gast becomes President.
Lehigh appoints its first female President, Alice P. Gast.