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August 2010


Dear Abbot Pennings,

When was the first year in which St. Norbert College graduated more women than men?

Alissa Roff ’09


My dearest Alissa,

Thank you for your thoughtful inquiry. As you know, St. Norbert College, an all-male institution for 54 years, has seen in recent years more women students enrolled than men. It was in 1952 that the college officially transitioned to coeducation and, by the end of the following decade, women’s enrollment quite equaled that of the men. And in 1969, 170 women received degrees, making that year the first to see more women than men graduate from the college. 

This time in the history of our beloved institution is one of which I’m certainly proud. Female students thrived in the 1960s. In fact, in the year 1960 itself, they earned 27 out of 45 places on the first quarter’s Dean’s List. Women held four of the five editorial positions at the St. Norbert Times. Indeed, three female sororities already existed on campus at the start of that remarkable decade. 

I recall the many successes of the first full-time women students at St. Norbert. The first coed class consisted of 24 women, who commuted from the surrounding area.

At that point in time, we did not have a female residence hall. Several female students who enrolled in the years to follow, and who lived farther away, were accommodated in a number of campus houses until Madelaine-Lorraine, the first women’s residence hall, was completed in 1962.

Alissa, what a joy it is to know that you have followed in the footsteps of these remarkable women! Do please take the best of care and don’t forget to pay me a visit when you are next on campus.

Responses to “Ask the Abbot” questions are penned by St. Norbert College staff in the name of Abbot Bernard Pennings, O.Praem., who founded St. Norbert College in 1898.

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