University Celebrates Roar That Began 50 Years Ago

The University of Scranton celebrates its 50th anniversary of coeducation with an array of events scheduled in March and April. 
The University of Scranton’s year-long “Celebrating Women: 50th Anniversary of Coeducation” includes lectures, film screenings, workshops, award presentations and theatrical performances in the upcoming months.
The University of Scranton’s year-long 'Celebrating Women: 50th Anniversary of Coeducation,' includes lectures, film screenings, workshops, award presentations and theatrical performances in the upcoming months.

“I Am Woman,” the Helen Reddy song that became an unofficial anthem of the women’s movement, hit number one on Billboard’s record chart on Dec. 9, 1972.

At the same time, a group of 120 women were charting a new course for themselves and future generations on the campus of The University of Scranton as members of the first incoming class that included women as residential and commuter full-time students.

A news article from that period in the then-Sunday paper The Scrantonian, interviewed several women in the first coed class about the transition. Students quoted said that they chose Scranton because they felt Scranton genuinely wanted them. Many of the women said that when the classes began in the fall semester, they felt self-conscious about being members of the first coed class and noted that the men, too, had to adjust. But, they said, as the semester continued they felt more comfortable and accepted.

Among the first cohort of women trailblazers at Scranton interviewed in The Scrantonian news story was Susan Swain ’76, now the president and co-CEO of C-SPAN. The English major was quoted as saying: “I find that I don’t have to be on my guard as much. I don’t have to constantly worry about whether I’m making a good impression because the guys I associate with are really good friends and I can be myself and they can too.”

Another member of the first coed cohort, former University Trustee Karen Pennington, Ph.D., ’76, G’83, H’15, who served as vice president for student development and campus life at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey, until she retired a few years ago, was quoted as saying: “The small classes are great, because the teachers have the opportunity of giving students closer attention.”

The University has marked the 50th anniversary of becoming coeducational with a year-long celebration.

“These celebrations matter,” said Michelle Maldonado, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the opening ceremony of the celebration in September. “I’m very aware that I am standing in front of you in this space because of these women, and because of this decision,” noting that it is important to remember the women “who created spaces for us that did not exist for them.”

In addition, Rev. Joseph Marina, S.J., president of the University, sent a message about the celebration to the University community.

The Committee for the Celebration of 50 years of Coeducation at Scranton is co-chaired by Elizabeth Garcia, J.D., executive director of the Office of Equity and Diversity and special assistant to the president, and Lauren Rivera, J.D., interim vice president for student life and dean of students.

'Celebrating Women: 50th Anniversary of Coeducation' upcoming events include:

* A screening of the documentary “Fair Play,” followed by a facilitated conversation about wage gap, the effects of gender roles in families struggling to maintain their work-life balance and intersectionality, will take place March 2 at 6 p.m. in the Rose Room of Brennan Hall. “Fair Play” is based on the best-selling book written by Eve Rodsky.

* A “Talk Back” led by Susan Poulson, Ph.D., professor of history at the University, will immediately follow the 8 p.m. March 4 performance of “Little Women: the Broadway Musical” by The University of Scranton Players in the McDade Center for Literary and Performing Arts.

* A Salary Negotiations Workshop, offered by the University’s Center for Career Development, Office of Human Resources and Jane Kopas Women’s Center, is set for March 7 at 6 p.m. in room 405 of the DeNaples Center.

* The Women of Vision and Courage Award Presentation and Celebration will take place at 3 p.m. on March 8, International Women’s Day, in the McIlhenny Ballroom, DeNaples Center. 

* Carol Rittner, RSM, D.Ed., distinguished professor emerita of Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Dr. Marsha Raticoff Grossman Professor Emerita of Holocaust Studies at Stockton University, New Jersey, will present “The Courage to Care” as part of the Schemel Forum’s World Affairs Luncheon Seminars. The talk begins at noon on March 13 in the Rose Room, Brennan Hall.

* In recognition of the 50th anniversaries of Title IX and coeducation at Scranton, a full-day Women’s and Gender Justice Teach-in, hosted by the University’s Ellacuria Initiative will take place on March 28 in the PNC Auditorium of the Loyola Science Center.

* The highest-ranking female official at the Vatican, Sister Nathalie Becquart, XMCJ, will discuss “Pope Francis, Women and Synodality,” at 7 p.m. on March 29 at 7 p.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center. Sister Becquart was appointed by Pope Francis as the undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

* A screening of the film “The Seeds of Vandana Shiva” will take place on March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Moskovitz Theater of the DeNaples Center.

* An Alumni Panel Discussion will take place on April 12 at 5 p.m. in the McIlhenny Ballroom of the DeNaples Center

* The University of Scranton’s Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Honors Program and the English and Theatre Department will perform “Emilie: La Marquise du Châtelet Defends Her Life Tonight” at the Studio Theatre of the McDade Center for Literary and Performing Arts. Performances are set for April 27, 28 and 29 at 8 p.m., and on April 30 at 2 p.m.

Additional events include table sits and trivia tables on the second floor of the DeNaples Center in March and a trip to Seneca Falls on March 25, among other activities. The University will also light the Class of 2020 Gateway Sign in honor of the celebration on March 1, 8 and April 12.

Some events are free of charge, while ticket prices vary for others. More details about events planned for “Celebrating Women: 50th Anniversary of Coeducation” can be seen here. For questions or additional information, contact the University’s Jane Kopas Women’s Center at 570-941-6194.

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