A History of Women at Lehigh

Timeline of Progress

Follow the events, accomplishments and milestones of women at Lehigh from 1865 to the 21st century.

The Joynt Committee on Co-education

(Excerpted from Lehigh University: A History of Education in Engineering, Business and the Human Condition. W. Ross Yates. Associated Press, Inc. 1992)

In response to student demonstrations in spring of 1968, The Joint Commission on University Life was developed in the latter part of that year to assess and evaluate concerns and needs of the students. One of the tasks of this commission was to organize a committee to “examine the desirability and feasibility of undergraduate co-education at Lehigh.”

In January, 1969, a 13 member committee was established, with members from the administration, faculty, alumni and students. Carey B. Joynt, who was the chairman of the department of international relations, led the committee; this committee being known as the Joynt Committee.

This committee made a preliminary report to the Board of Trustees on October 9, 1969, recommending by a vote of 12 to 1 to bring co-education to the Lehigh campus.

In a letter to Lehigh University President Deming Lewis, Professor Joynt stated:

The committee began its work very conscious of the difficulty and delicate nature of its tasks. Initially, there was a good deal of skepticism concerning both the desirability and feasibility of Lehigh becoming co-educational. As the data was analyzed, however, and issues were debated it gradually became clear to the committee, on the basis of information available, that Lehigh should become co-educational with a vote from the committee of 12.

At the meeting of Lehigh’s Board of Trustees in April, 1970, President Lewis presented the committee’s plan for admitting women and declared that: “It is in Lehigh’s best interest to become co-educational.” A month later on May 29, 1970, the Board of Trustees agreed to admit 100 women in the fall of 1971 and another 100 in the fall of 1972. In actuality, 169 women were admitted during the 1971-72 academic year and 362 women were present in 1972-73. Clearly exceeding the proposed applicant numbers for undergraduate women was due to the attractiveness of Lehigh and those programs that were now available to undergraduate women. Most of these women entered the fields of science and mathematics and also enrolled in engineering and business courses. The social sciences and humanities received fewer women than expected.

In September, 1981, President Lewis wrote, “The advent of women has made a positive and profound difference in the quality of University life. Their presence and contributions have enriched our lives together in many ways- academic, social, cultural and athletic.”