USF History Vault: Achieving Coeducational Status in 1960s

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According to the 2008 USF Fact Book and Almanac, of the 8,772 students who enrolled in the university that year, the female student body comprised 61.6 percent and the male student body came in at a much less 38.4 percent. Rewind until about five decades ago. USF’s male and female student populations were polar opposites of what would be found today.

In 1961, USF was first accepted as “coeducational” when the Archbishop Mitty gave the university approval to open itself up to both women and men. In 1964, USF was officially made a coeducational institution. In August, Marquette University’s former assistant to the Dean of Women, Francis Anne Dolan, was appointed as USF’s first dean of women.

In USF’s first official coeducational year, 4724 students made up both the undergraduate and graduate divisions of the university; about 28 percent (1310) were women, and about 72 percent (3414) were men.

Two years later in 1966, Hayes-Healy Hall was added to house the approximate 350 women on campus.
Although women were finally accepted as part of the university community, they had to abide by strict dress code regulations (men did as well, but they had less strict guidelines).

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A page out of the 1961 Don, USF’s yearbook. The page showcases USF’s Women’s Sodality, a result of coeducation. (Courtesy of Gleeson Library Digital Collections)

In 1968, USF outlined specific restrictions; women were required to dress “appropriately” on school grounds. They had to avoid wearing tiny mini-skirts and even pant dresses, sports clothes (with the exception of wearing it for sport exercise), shorts, jeans, capris, and Bermudas. The dress code also applied when women were in the residence hall lounges or at basketball games.

Men were barred from wearing blue Levi trousers and Bermuda shorts, but at the end of the decade, such strict regulations were annulled for both men and women.

By 1978, the female student population was beginning to take flight. With a population of 6,931 that year, women made up 50.3 percent. Since, the female student body has continued to prevail over the male population.

Editor-in-Chief: Heather Spellacy

Chief Copy-Editor: Burke McSwain

News Editor: Erick Montes

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