Letter 23 and Board of Trustees Statement on Coeducation

W&L Anonymous Alum A Letter 23_Redacted

Letter 23

Board of Trustees Statement on Coeducation

Board of Trustees Statement on Coeducation

Farris Hotckiss, secretary to President Wilson, sent letter 23 to the 508 alumni who wrote letters to the University or to the Board of Trustees on the question of coeducation. He said that though the 508 men represent only 3.2% of the entire alumni population, the viewpoints expressed in the letters “gave the Board a comprehensive picture of overall alumni opinion.”

Hotchkiss wrote, “Of the many ways alumni chose to make known their views, there was common agreement that the 508 letters were the most helpful.” Enclosed with the letter was the Board of Trustee’s official statement on the coeducation decision. Hotchkiss sent the 508 alumni advanced copies of the statement because of their interest in W&L and the coeducation study. The statement was published in the Alumni Magazine in the issue following the Board’s July 13-14 meeting.

Anonymous Alumnus A – Letter 6

W&L Anonymous Alum A Letter 6_Redacted

Letter 6

A trustee sent Anonymous Alumnus A’s letter back with a handwritten note. The note reads: “7/9 Thank you for your opinion on Coed and your continuing interest in W&L.”

The anonymous alumnus argues that in order to remain competitive for top-tier students in both the academic and athletic sense, the trustee should consider the assistance coeducation would have in accomplishing these goals.

Anonymous Alumnus A – Letters 4 and 5

W&L Anonymous Alum A Letter 4_Redacted

Letter  4

W&L Anonymous Alum A Letter 5_Redacted

Letter 5

Anonymous Alumnus A sent copies of this letter to each trustee and each trustee emeritus. His primary reason for writing to the trustees was to call attention to the trouble he was having recruiting students from his local area to attend W&L. He wrote, “I have found many apply, become accepted, and then make the decision to go to another institution such as Davidson or Vanderbilt, with the explanation to me that the decision was made to avoid spending four years at a school segregated by sex.”

He concludes his letter with a request: “Please get us back in step with the academic institutions with whom we compete.” Anonymous Alumnus A believed coeducation was a necessary step in the recruitment of top students and pursuit of academic excellence.

All-Male Colleges Drop to 2

All Male COllegesIn response to a decline in applicants at Washington and Lee, the Board of Trustees voted 17-7 in favor of coeducation to begin at in the fall of 1985. After similar efforts made by the university in 1969 and 1975, the 1985 initiative finally removed the university from the pool of three all-male private colleges in the United States. In response, students staged a sit-in at the president’s office and made bumper stickers that said, “Better Dead than Coed” and “Girls in the Hay, Not All Day”. Additional public shows of disapproval included men hanging a banner displaying “No Marthas” on Washington and Lee’s “Old George” statue.

[from Special Collections, original source unknown]

Roster of Men’s Colleges Dwindles

Roster of Mens Colleges DwindlesAfter nine months of careful consideration by the 24 trustees, the decision on W&L’s coeducation brings the total number of public and private all-male liberal arts colleges down to four in the United States. While this number contrasts with the 110 U.S. liberal arts colleges remaining exclusively female, W&L had to make a choice between lowering its academic standards/going broke with declining college-going male high school graduates or submitting to the pressure to go coed. W&L Law female Eileen McCabe believes the coeducation implementation at the undergraduate level will help mature the mens’ view on women. She thinks the all-male nature of the undergraduate portion of W&L results in an artificial social atmosphere and a warped perception on women.

[Source: United Press International (UPI)]

Students, Alumni 2-1 Against; Faculty 4-1 For

Student:Alumni and FacultyWashington and Lee University’s decision to go coed was spurred largely by concerns over a shortage of qualified students, but remaining all-male colleges including Wabash College and Hampden-Sydney did not feel similar pressure. W&L had resisted the pressure to go coed since 1888, when the idea was presented in the student magazine, Southern Collegian. President Wilson’s suggestion of opening W&L’s undergraduate school to women was met with stark negativity even though the law school had gone coed in 1972 due to pressure by the American Bar Association. When Wilson became president of the University in 1983, his push to halt a tradition that marked Washington and Lee University as a distinctive school caused his low popularity among students. Bob Jenevein, student body president in 1984, believes that changing the single-sex status at W&L will inevitably alter the spirit of the institute. However, Frank Parsons, Executive Assistant to the past three presidents of W&L, thought that W&L’s character would not change drastically with the initiative. Perhaps, like Wabash College’s spokesman Keen, Parsons realized a single-sex institute is hard to sell, and thus seeks the maintenance of W&L as a unique and academically acclaimed school with a pro-coed stance.

[from Special Collections; original source unknown]

Agelasto Trustee Select Papers – Select Exhibits

Agelasto Trustee Select Papers_Select Exhibits
Exhibits I, II, and III

Exhibit I: “Selectivity of Some Institutions, / Including Washington and Lee, / By Percentages of Applicants Admitted in 1983.” This exhibit notes that W&L accepted 57 percent of applicants in 1983. By comparison, Harvard, Williams, and the University of Virginia accepted 18, 28, and 35 percent of applicants, respectively, in 1983.

Exhibit II: “Academic Statistics / Washington and Lee, College Board Scores.” This exhibit cites that W&L’s scores from the Scholastic Aptitude Test (now the SAT), fell a collective 127 points across verbal and math between 1965 and 1975 and only marginally recovered (a collective 13 points across verbal and math) from 1975 to 1983.

Exhibit III: “Academic Statistics / Washington and Lee.” This exhibit highlights that the falling quality of applicants who enrolled in the University. For example, the exhibit reports that there was a 70 percent decline in the number of admitted freshmen who had an SAT Verbal score over 650.

Agelasto Trustee Select Papers – Letter 2

Agelasto Trustee Select Papers_Letter 2_Redacted

In a letter sent directly from the Rector of the Board of Trustees, James M. Ballengee, wrote to “alumni, students, parents, faculty and friends” of the university. He wrote, “the admission of undergraduate women would help ensure that Washington and Lee will maintain its reputation and heritage as one of the finest institutions of higher learning in the United States. He cited that although many alumni were against coeducation, most said they were in favor of coeducation if it saved the university from “academic deterioration.”