The WFSN had another fabulous First Thursday event at Messina Hof last week. Our guest speakers, Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ’99, spoke about the history of women at A&M, the history of the WFSN and 8 ways to get/stay involved with the WFSN. Read on to hear what they said.
“We had the distinct honor of presenting a history of women at A&M, the history of the WFSN and what it means to us.” – Sue Redman ’80 and Molly Underwood ’99.
Many former students and current students were on hand to hear Sue’s and Molly’s remarks. In attendance were student representatives of Aggie Financial Women’s Association (AFWA) and a new organization, yet to be named of women from the Bush School.
History of Women at A&M
In 1963 President Earl Rudder announced that women were to be admitted into graduate programs at Texas A&M University and by the spring semester, 183 women were enrolled. Some of the first women to enroll were required to sign a contract stating that they would withdraw if the new policy was withdrawn. By 1966, women were admitted into all graduate and undergraduate programs – and we haven’t looked back. In fact, female student represent 47.6% of all students enrolled in the fall semester of 2014, which is just short of the national average of 56.8% of female students enrolled in universities across the country.
This is the page from the 1963 Yearbook that portrayed women in a question mark – asking if women would last at A&M. Sally Sheppard’s photo is circled.
In 2014, she would become the 3rd female to receive the Distinguished Alumnus Award.
Molly listed some of the “Aggie Women Firsts:” in 1981 the first woman on a full athletic scholarship (Linda Cornelius Waltman ’79) and first woman to command a Battalion in the Corps of Cadets (Doriot Mascarich ’81) and in 2002 the first woman president of the 12th Man Foundation (Carrie Wells ’84) and in 2008, the first woman drum major in the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Bank (Samantha Kropp ’10).
History of the WFSN
Sue then discussed the history of the WFSN. The Women Former Students’ Network was formed in 2008 in the year of the 45th anniversary that women were admitted to the University. The WFSN was formed to eradicate the question: “Where are all the women former students?” In 2008, only one woman had ever received the Distinguished Alumnus Award, very few women former students were receiving the Outstanding Alumni from their Colleges and very few women were receiving teaching or researching awards. There were few women on the Texas A&M Board of Regents or 12th Man Foundation and no women on the Texas A&M Foundation Board.
In 2014, women comprised 156,000 or 71% of the total living former students. The 1990’s and 2000’s saw the greatest growth in percentage of women enrolled at Texas A&M.
In 2007, a survey was sent to women former students asking them what might interest them to connect or reconnect with the University. Their responses indicated they would be interested in meeting with students and participating in a scholarly activity with women faculty. In summary, the overwhelming response by these women former students was they wanted to “give back to Texas A&M University.”
Thus the WFSN was formed with its mission of enhancing the excellence of Texas A&M University by promoting the active engagement of women in the educational, charitable, and cultural life of the institution. In January/February 2008, an article, entitled A Deeper Connection, was published in the Texas Aggie that announced the formation of the WFSN. The floodgates opened with correspondence from the women former student community expressing interest and support for the organization.
Sue discussed some of the accomplishments made by the WFSN in its first 7 years:
- Established a 45 Women Endowment and raised and funded 2 President’s Endowed Scholarship for two women students
- Nominated two of our members (Glenda Mariott ’79 and Sally Sheppard ’63) and they received the Distinguished Alumnus Award
- The WFSN has been instrumental in getting several of our members appointed to their College Advisory Councils and have received Outstanding Alumni awards from their colleges
8 Ways to Give Back
Sue and Molly concluded their remarks by listing 8 ways to get involved with the WFSN, as it begins its 8th year:
- Become a WFSN Member/Renew Membership
- Join a Committee
- Come to First Thursdays at Messina Hof
- Become a Mentor
- Become an Aggie Expert
- Donate to WFSN initiatives that support students and faculty
- Introduce a woman Aggie to the WFSN
- Bring a woman student to a First Thursday
Join us at the next First Thursday at Messina Hof on March 5th to hear Judy LeUnes ’76 speak about “Birth Order and Success.”
Gig ‘em Aggie Women!
Women Former Students’ Network