About the Year of Women
For 100 years, the College of Charleston has cultivated exemplary women leaders across disciplines. In celebration of those women and in honor of the centennial anniversary of the first admission of women to the College, the 2018–19 academic year has been designated the Year of Women.
Women were first admitted to the College on August 3, 1918, and the first 13 women were enrolled on September 30, 1918, joining 20 men to make up the freshman class.
In 1922, six of those 20 men and one of the original 13 women successfully graduated. Pierrine St. Claire Smith Byrd became the first female graduate of the College of Charleston and the first female honor graduate (valedictorian).
In 1967, the first two black women – Carrie Nesbitt Gibbs and Angela Brown Gilchrist – were admitted to the College of Charleston and were soon joined by two more – Linda Dingle Gadson and Audrey Dingle Cooper.
Today, women comprise 63 percent of the student body and our female graduates include leaders in everything from medicine and government to education and astronomy. Our female students have made the College a better place – and they continue to make the world a better place.
And it’s not just our students: Female faculty members have brought a strong and valuable voice to campus, as well. The first woman faculty member, Maggie Pennington, joined the College in 1962, serving not only as a biology professor, but as the College’s first, last and only dean of women.
Today, the College has four female academic deans and 44 percent of the College’s roster faculty and 56 percent of its adjunct faculty are women. Our women faculty members are powering academic research, inspiring students and making sweeping changes across all disciplines.
To acknowledge the progress and challenges associate with this commemoration, the College community is invited to initiate dialogue and activities about the history of women students at the college and about the many contributions of women faculty, staff, alumni and other community members to the College’s mission.