A Century of Women at Auburn 1892-1992

By Leah Rawls Atkins


(Numbers in parentheses correspond to reference numbers at the end of this page.)

Eating on campus posed a problem. Only the Graves Center cafeteria, the Quad dining hall, and the Mell Street Cafeteria served food. Most students took meals at boarding houses that operated near campus, such as Ruth Dillon's next to the War Eagle Theater or the Green House at College and Thach. The closest thing to a fast food restaurant was Jake's Joint (a hamburger stand), Barney's Cub Cafe, or Athey's. Then there were always the Auburn Grille and the Doll House, both Auburn traditions.

To assist women with limited financial means to obtain a college education, Auburn established a cooperative house where the students could cook their own meals and do the house cleaning to reduce expenses. The college acquired Dean J. W. Scott's house on South College Street, which was built in 1928, and named it the Susan Smith Cottage. Twenty-six girls, selected because of their records of good scholarship and good citizenship, lived there. In 1962 the cost per quarter at Susan Smith was $90 compared to $180/$200 for the old quad and new dorms.(121)

Ralph Brown Draughon became president in October 1948. The former student of George Petrie was a history professor for many years and had served as an administrative assistant to President Duncan. With his wife, Caroline, who immediately won the hearts of coeds on campus by her interest in their welfare, Draughon met the challenges of Auburn's enrollment increase and the need to keep pace with the new scientific and technological advances that rapidly developed after World War II. He was affectionately called 'Fessor Draughon by his former students. Caroline Draughon established the Campus Club in 1948 as a social club for women on the faculty and staff and faculty spouses.

Football games were important social events for coeds. Auburn­Alabama football, suspended between the two schools following the 1907 Auburn­Alabama football game, which ended in a 6­6 tie, resumed in 1948 when the Tigers met the Tide in Legion Field.(122) Auburn­Alabama football Saturday became the social event of the season for Auburn coeds. A date for the game and the weekend in Birmingham called for at least one new outfit. Parents of Jefferson County students prepared for three days' worth of students sleeping on all available sofas and making pallets on the floor. So many girls and boys came and went so fast that mothers could never remember the names of all the students staying at their house.

Game day began with a parade down Twentieth Street with school bands, cheerleaders, alumni, and floats with pretty girls and ended with parties all over town at which hometown friends, relatives, and fraternity brothers from rival schools gathered to drink together and sometimes slug it out over the game's outcome. Returning to campus on Sunday night coeds faced final exams on a schedule called "The Death Watch." Life returned to normal in a hurry. In November 1949, the freshman Alabama team came to Auburn to play the Baby Tigers, the first time an Alabama football team played Auburn on the Plains.

The Georgia Tech game, played annually in Atlanta from 1906 to 1960 and the Georgia game scheduled in Columbus from 1916 to 1958 were other special social as well as sporting events attended by coeds. The Western Railway ran a special train to Atlanta on Tech's game day. The band, their instruments, and the cheerleaders sometimes rode in the baggage car, every seat was filled in the other cars, and most of the aisles were so crowded the conductor could not pass through to collect tickets.

The morning trip north was lively but sober. The orange and blue invasion of "Hotlanta" was usually peaceful, broken only by incidents of rat-cap swiping between freshmen. By tradition if a rat cap was stolen off the head of a rival school's rat, the victor was relieved of wearing the beanie. Auburn freshman coeds rarely wore rat caps to the Tech game. The trip back to Auburn was never sober. Defeats were drowned and wins celebrated by sips from bottles hidden in coat pockets or a willing coed's purse. Always the supply multiplied beyond the conductor's capacity to deplete it. After the highway to Atlanta was paved, many students drove up to spend the weekend in the big city; when Coach Ralph Jordan revived the tradition of taking the Auburn team on the morning train to Atlanta on game day, the train ride became popular once more.

In 1955 when Auburn finally, after 14 years, "Beat Tech," Atlanta girded for the deluge. If Auburn had celebrated defeats so spiritedly, what would they do in victory? The Atlanta newspapers were amazed at the Auburn students' response to Wreckin' Tech and complemented the student body for its good sportsmanship and disciplined behavior.(123)

Dean of Women Katharine Cooper Cater, who came to Auburn in 1946, faced a female enrollment that almost doubled by 1950. She was a steadfast advocate for women, and although she did not approve of many student trends, she presided over a period of remarkable change in the position of women in American society and the status of coeds on the Auburn University campus. Cater had her office on the first floor of Social Center and lived in private quarters on the second floor. She entertained coeds at coffees and receptions, friends at her annual Christmas tea, and senior women and their parents on graduation day.

For more than a generation of Auburn coeds, it was Dean Cater who symbolized the social life of the campus, and every Auburn girl of her era left campus with a "Dean Cater story." Cater remained close to her student leaders and followed their careers after they graduated. Her girls always dropped by for a visit on their return to campus. But Cater's penchant for keeping files on "her girls" presented problems for the university when federal privacy laws were passed. The dean's storage room was filled with filing cabinets containing a carefully kept cumulative record on every woman student. Besides grade sheets, correspondence, discipline notes, and dorm head's reports, the files contained newspaper clippings and even notes on the boys the coed was dating and whom she married. This "historian's delight" was a nightmare for university archivists, who determined that the files had to be destroyed since access to them by anyone was denied by federal statutes.(124)

By 1950 most of the G.I.'s were in graduate school or had earned a diploma and left. The students were younger and less mature, and although coeds were still clustered in Home Economics, Art, and Education, women were moving into less traditional female curricula. President Ralph B. Draughon noted that women were not "barred from any course leading to a degree" at Auburn and were "enrolled in everything from Agriculture to Veterinary Medicine." A few females were majoring in Engineering Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry, Laboratory Technology, and Parasitology.(125) Electrical engineering had its second female graduate in 1943, and such majors as pre-law and pre-medicine were attracting women.

President Draughon enthusiastically supported scientific and technical education for women. During World War II, America used women in technical fields, and in the climate of the Cold War he believed America needed "thousands of technically trained women in almost all fields of activity," and "we simply aren't training enough of them." Draughon was convinced that there were "many jobs that women engineers can do as well as men" and that the land-grant colleges "are tooled up to train people" in fields of national health, safety, and defense. He could see no sense in denying "women the opportunity to enroll and study in these fields." Draughon thought that a coeducational campus "polished up the appearance of men students" and "probably, cleaned up the lectures of some of our 'he-men' on the faculty."(126)

A large number of female students were goal-oriented and career-driven and routinely tapped for Phi Kappa Phi and for one of the six coed honor societies, such as Sphinx and Cardinal Key, before Mortar Board became the senior honor society on campus. But some coeds seemed content to remain the objects of men's affection, and a few openly claimed their primary college goal was an MRS degree.

Greek dances dominated the social scene more than ever, as Auburn belles led Black and White Balls, Pink Rose Formals, Red Carnation Balls, Orchid Formals, and Sweetheart Balls. Sorority and fraternity life dictated a social whirl with pledge swaps, bee-bops, and theme parties, but the Navy Ring Dance, and especially the Military Ball, were campuswide affairs. The relationship between sorority girls and independents remained good because there were no sorority houses, only rooms assigned in the basements of the dorms, and members and independents lived together. Although a Plainsman columnist occasionally questioned why Auburn had no sorority houses, members and national organizations were generally happy without the expense and responsibility of house ownership, and the Auburn administration was content with sorority rooms in the dorms, which they believed resulted in a less exclusive atmosphere.

The (Foy) Student Union became the center of campus activities when the building was completed in 1954. Barbara Meshad Dooley liked to "go to the Student Union between classes and see just who was there to socialize and swap stories with," and it was there in 1957 that she first met Vince Dooley. Barbara loved Auburn, even "the cubicle that you called a room, shared by a roommate . . . sometimes two roommates if that quarter happened to be too full." She even "loved going to classes."(127) In 1957 the Eagle's Nest opened on the ground floor of the Student Union and provided a nightclub atmosphere for students, complete with live music and stage shows, but no alcohol. Bebe Herrin Costner's imitation of Jerry Lewis was a popular act that students loved.

Auburn coeds enjoyed Skit Night, Village Fair, and the Starlight Shuffle. The freshmen still paraded-the boys in their pajamas and the girls in dresses-on the Wednesday before the Georgia Tech game, and bulldog replicas were thrown into a bonfire at the pep rally before Auburn played Georgia. The lily pond behind Cater Hall was still the scene of nightly dunkings for those newly pinned, and Homecoming weekend traffic was the traditional nightmare as hundreds toured the fraternity displays.

Auburn coeds remained a minority on campus and were usually highlighted only through such beauty pageants as the Glomerata Beauty Ball or the Miss Auburn and Miss Homecoming contests. A coed's picture might appear in the Plainsman if she were leading a dance, as president of a sorority or the date of the fraternity president, or if she were chosen "Loveliest of the Plains," a feature that began on July 6, 1950.(128)

The Auburn marching band always welcomed female musicians who could qualify, but it did not change from the traditional blue-gray cadet uniforms with orange satin lined capes until the early 1950s. Coeds were required to keep their long hair tucked under their cap, and only a voluptuous figure would betray the gender of the musician. In 1946 Danny Sue Gibson Conner was one of the first majorettes to march with the Auburn band, and Kay Ivey Clement recalls that when she made the marching band as a freshman in 1963 she was the only female in the trumpet section.

In the 1950s the town of Auburn was changing as much as the campus. The War Eagle Theatre and the Drive-in Movie joined the Tiger to give a wider selection of movies. The Sinclair Service Station rented cars to students, enabling boys to pool resources for dates and special occasions. Moonstruck young men had only to venture across the street from campus to buy a quarter-carat diamond ring from Lamar Ware's jewelry store for $125. The town featured more paved streets, more sidewalks, and more traffic lights. Toomer's drugstore still served fresh-squeezed lemonade, and students gathered at the corner for pep rallies to celebrate athletic victories and to hear politicians plead for votes. Big Jim Folsom's appearance on the back of a hay-filled wagon in 1946 with his Strawberry Pickers hillbilly band was memorable, although the students were not especially cordial during his campaign visit eight years later.

The election of Auburn alumnus Gordon Persons as governor of Alabama in 1950 brought a strong Auburn presence to the capitol and increased support for A.P.I. The most immediate result was a change in the head coach. Ralph "Shug" Jordan, an Auburn man, came from the University of Georgia and started a new era in Auburn football that included a national championship in 1957 and Pat Sullivan's Heisman-winning season in 1971.

In 1953 more women's dorms were constructed south of the first Quad and were opened in the spring. Girls were required to live in university housing unless granted special permission by the dean of women, and rules for women's behavior were still very strict. The regulations for Auburn coeds were recorded in "Co Etiquette" and were under the control of the Women's Student Government Association. Discipline for rules violations and misconduct was swift and punishments severe. Girls who dared to disobey looked over their shoulders all the while to see if a WSGA representative was in view.

Dean Cater had to deal with the phenomenon of panty raids, and she issued special "Rules for Women in Case of Panty Raids." She instructed coeds to don housecoats or raincoats, turn off all lights, and go sit on the floors of the hallways. Restrictions were promised to those coeds who failed to follow these guidelines and appeared in dorm windows or egged on the males storming the doors.(129) There was a connection between the spring panty raid of 1957 and the national championship won the following fall. Several of the football players were caught on the top floor of a women's dorm and were expelled, causing the players to come together as the coaches increased discipline and were forced to move a left-handed halfback, Lloyd Nix, into the starting quarterback role.

Auburn male students during the 1950s were often attracted to "Sin City"-Phenix City-and the saloons, gambling establishments, and strip-joints that operated there. The excursions were usually "stag" affairs, although some alumnae have confessed to going there with dates. Invariably a car packed full of inebriated students coming home in the wee hours of the morning would crash, sometimes with fatalities. When the state moved in to clean up Phenix City following the murder of Albert Patterson in June 1954, Auburn students read the newspaper accounts with great interest.

Auburn men continually complained that there were just "not enough women to go around," and in 1959 coeds sounded off their complaints about Auburn males. There were dorms "full of girls" without dates on Friday and Saturday nights because boys were reluctant to date without cars or money to spend. The girls assured them they did not mind walking and liked informal dates. The important thing, Barbara Wood stressed, was that Auburn men "should be Southern gentlemen" and "not forget their manners." Bebe Kelly disliked fast driving, an unshaven look, and sloppy dressing.(130)

Auburn maintained a double standard typical of the times regarding male and female rules and punishments. Men had few social regulations, while coeds were held to tight and restrictive rules. In the 1950s Auburn coeds came to college with fashionable wardrobes and wore high-heeled shoes, suits, and hats with veils to football games. Dressy clothes were donned for teas, coffees, the dances at the Eagle's Nest, and Sunday afternoon fraternity house visits. Dressing for class was a careful fashion production. Coed rules decreed that shorts, slacks, and jeans could not be worn on campus unless going to a theme party or Chewacla Park. Even gym suits were banned, and girls were required to wear raincoats going to and from physical education classes. Coeds might go to Andy's for a steak dinner, but they dared not be seen at The Shack drinking 25-cent beer.

Auburn coeds were not isolated from the political developments within the state and nation in the 1950s and 1960s. They were concerned with the bus boycott in Montgomery and the beginning of the civil-rights movement. In 1949 when "Doc" Hodge, a popular black football supporter for decades, was kept out of the student section of the stadium for the first time, the students reacted angrily. When the administration banned a Tuskegee black band from playing at the Sophomore Sweater Stomp the next year, they were indignant.

For coed Anne Rivers Siddons the civil rights movement became a defining milestone of her student years (1954-58) and guidepost for her life. Her first novel, Heartbreak Hotel, published in 1976, was set on the campus of a fictional east Alabama college, Randolph University, in 1956. Randolph was a land-grant college established in 1872 in a small town. The main building was red-brick Semmes Hall, and the college had a Forestry Plot, a nearby state park with a lake, and a powerful football machine. The KAs danced at the Old South Ball, the coeds wore raincoats over their gym shorts, and the dean of women was a formidable lady. Siddons' fictional coed, Maggie Deloach, comes of age when her traditional southern values are challenged in a shocking racial encounter. Author Siddons, following a number of best-selling novels, came back to Randolph University and a college theme with Outer Banks, published in 1991. Four Randolph suite-mates, separated for decades, come together for a long weekend and remember conflicts of their college days.

In the 1960s, although the quality of the student newspaper and its columns varied with editorial leadership, The Plainsman generally took progressive stands questioning racial discrimination and supporting principles of equality. The opinions of the students were often at odds with prevailing political winds and Auburn's more conservative and politically tuned administration. The board of trustees resolved at their June 1964 meeting that the student editors must now "advise with the dean of student affairs" before publishing "anything bearing on the good name" of Auburn.(131) Just what this meant was individually interpreted and openly defied. The campus was quiet when court-ordered integration began in January 1964.

By the 1960s there were increasing pressures on Dean Cater and the administration to ease the rules for women. In 1961 the Plainsman urged the integration of the WSGA into the Student Government Association and lamented that "Victorianism may not be dead, but it should be." The student newspaper chided coeds, calling them "our 8:30 Cinderellas" and urging them to change their rules through the WSGA. "If Auburn girls don't consider themselves to be mature enough to make their own decisions, so be it. But if they do consider themselves to be adults, they should make their rules accordingly."(132) The Plainsman correctly surmised that many girls liked curfews that forced them into the dorms early at night, giving them time to study. The "so-called weaker sex 'ain't necessarily so' at grade time," wrote the Plainsman, for women's grade point averages were consistently higher than men's grades because they were home studying while "boys roam the streets all night."(133) The freedom for women to direct and discipline their own lives was the wave of the future.

Auburn coeds may have disagreed on curfews, but they did agree on the poor quality of the food in the women's dining hall and were opposed to purchasing meal tickets for food they did not eat. They wanted the freedom to live in apartments. Curfews and restrictions for coeds were gradually eased during the 1960s, and compulsory convocations vanished.

On January 20, 1960, the Alabama Polytechnic Institute became Auburn University, a name that reflected the growth and expanded mission of the land grant university. In 1965 Ralph Draughon retired, having awarded 27,457 degrees. In the 90 years before his presidency, the institution had awarded only 16,304 degrees. Draughon considered his crowning achievement the opening of the new library in 1963, the academic heart of his alma mater and a building that bears his name.

Dr. Harry M. Philpott became president in 1965. Even though he cited the growth of female enrollment as one of the most significant factors of his presidency, he was concerned with "keeping a balance" in women's enrollment and his administration considered placing a ceiling on the number of women admitted. He noted that there was a "rather subtle" one in place, for only as many women were admited as there were dorm rooms to accommodate them, and once the dorms were filled, "We cut off enrollment." Philpott believed that "if we threw open the doors" more women would come and "we would have an imbalance that would have an adverse effect on the academic program." In the 1970s few women were going into engineering, veterinary medicine, and business. Philpott recalled that the veterinary faculty "facetiously" used to say "that they would admit a woman if she could pick a horse up and put it on the operating table."(134) To illustrate the changing enrollment, the School of Veterinary Medicine had five women enrolled in 1961, 20 in 1970, and 136 in 1980. In 1991 more women than men were enrolled in Veterinary Medicine - 171 undergraduate and 35 graduate women, compared to 169 undergraduate and 25 graduate men.(135)

In 1967, six of the "hill" women's dorms were occupied and six more were under construction. When Haley Center was completed in 1969, the campus was immediately transformed. For the first time since the college opened, classes were not held in Samford Hall, and the sounds of students' footsteps on the squeaking wooden stairs and the laughter in the halls were stilled. The historic main building was renovated, some would say "butchered" with no regard for historical preservation, and became administrative offices. The center of the campus shifted to Haley Center. For generations Auburn coeds had walked through Samford Park while the boys stood on the steps and watched. Now coeds in miniskirts and bell bottomed pants sashayed down the brick walkways of Haley Concourse with boys observing from the tiered stairs. This same year ROTC training became voluntary, and a tradition vanished: for decades at 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays almost every male on campus, in uniform and wearing freshly polished shoes, had hurried to the drill field.

In spite of continued restrictions on coeds, a survey of students in the mid-1960s showed that coeds characterized Auburn more favorably than males, perhaps related somewhat to the 3.5 ratio of boys to girls. Greeks continued to influence social life, and Carolyn Brinson Reed recalled that in the early 1960s fraternity parties dominated the party whirl for coeds. By the 1970s coed rules at Auburn had been virtually abolished. Through boycotts of the dining hall, camp outs in front of Social Center and on the president's lawn, suits filed in federal courts and federal laws - especially Title IX of the Education Act of 1972 - and the changing public expectation that universities should not serve as parents to students, the curfews and restrictions came tumbling down for Auburn's coeds as they did for coeds at other colleges across the nation. Auburn's women could now visit the dormitory portions of fraternity houses, entertain men in their dorm rooms during certain hours, eat when and where they wanted, live in apartments off campus, wear shorts to class, drink beer openly at the War Eagle Supper Club or the Casino on Highway 29, and stay out all night if they liked.

Employment opportunities for women college graduates increased after the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was enacted. Title VII of this landmark federal legislation prevented discrimination in employment on the basis of sex. Gender was added in Congress as a last-minute effort to block its passage, but the addition of the word "sex" opened doors to female graduates. President Lyndon Johnson's Executive Order 11246, signed in September 1965, initiated the legal basis for affirmative action, which also helped female graduates find satisfactory employment opportunities and brought more women professors to the campus.(136)

In the 1970s the women's movement had arrived on campus, and the issues were debated in the Plainsman. Male columnists usually questioned the issues and believed that American women probably were satisfied "with their lot in life."(137) But the coeds were becoming more conscious of women's "inferior social and educational roles in society."(138) Two independent women edited the Plainsman during this decade: Beverly Bradford Crawford, 1971, who abolished the Loveliest of the Plains feature and is now a columnist for a suburban weekly newspaper outside Washington, D.C., and Rheta Grimsley Johnson, 1975, who is a syndicated writer for Scripps Howard News Service.

The great rage of the decade began at 10:03 a. m., February 15, 1974, when a hooded male streaked naked down the Haley Center concourse. The Plainsman denied any culpability, but a photographer recorded the moment. National press coverage caused streaking to spread to other college campuses. On Thursday night March 7, there were "mass streaks" involving men and women all across the campus. As the Glomerata wrote: "Faster than a speeding bullet; More powerful than Dean Cater, Able to dodge Chief Dawson in a single bound; Look! On the concourse! In the Quad! It's-the Streaker!" Two nude students, a male and female, hopped the fence in left field at an AU baseball game and ran into the bleachers of cheering students. The "craziness" continued until the eve of winter quarter finals brought sanity.(139)

Sorority rush remained the centerpiece of fall quarter for members and rushees. Members worked all summer on rush plans, pouring over recommendations and party plans, while freshmen worried all summer about their recs. Freshmen arrived in Auburn in loaded cars and station wagons, moved into their rooms or apartments, and made ready for the strenuous week of parties. Sorority members braced for the all-night meetings, the constant cleaning up and the work details that it took to host ice water teas, color days, theme parties with skits, and preferentials. Girls came and went every four years, but the constant leadership of local alums became legendary: Helen Salmon, who made certain the Alpha Gams kept their grades high; Gladys Stewart who reminded the ADPis about the importance of legacies; Annie Terrell Basore, who brought fresh flowers whenever the Chi Os needed them; and Alice Cary Pick Gibson, who always opened her lovely historic home for the KDs.

Rush was emotional for members, while it was a stressful time for rushees, isolated from their families by rush rules. Sororities had dozens of regulations to follow and had to make sure their invitation lists and bid cards arrived on time at the computer center at 6:00 a.m. Counselors walked the rushees through the ordeal and stood ready to support those who were disappointed in the results. Saturday morning was always Squeal Day. The sealed envelopes were picked up by the rushees at the old basketball arena, and they would run up the hill to the blocked intersection of Duncan and Samford where sorority girls dressed in their theme rush dresses were standing with balloons, T-shirts, and gifts for the pledges. Hundreds of boy friends, mothers and fathers, sisters and neighbors, and university staff gathered to watch the excitement.

The 1970s marked an increase in minority students enrolled at Auburn. Following the racial integration of the university in 1964, the number of black students remained small until 1969 when there were 68 men and 80 women attending classes. The signing of the first black athlete to a football scholarship in 1969 no doubt influenced black male enrollment, but the number of students grew slowly. After 1969, although the numbers were very close, except for 1973 there were always more black males on campus than females. Janice James Jordan of Hurtsboro entered Auburn "on a dare" in 1973. She had been accepted at a predominately black state university, but her school counselor encouraged her to apply to Auburn, and she was admitted. As a freshman, she worked the desk in her dorm and came to know all the girls. She recalled that being the only African-American in most of her classes was both an advantage and a disadvantage for "there was no way the professor would not know my name." Her history professor once startled her on the sidewalk by greeting her with "Hello, Janice."

Winnie Williams Frazier, one of four black students among 100 freshmen in Dorm 6 in the fall of 1973, ran for dorm treasurer and won with the campaign slogan win with winnie printed on fake dollar bills. She recalled, "We were all just girls that year. Rich girls. Poor girls. Lonely and homesick. Working hard for our grades. Getting to know and respect each other and developing a sense of belonging." Patsy Boyd Parker, who received an AU master's degree in 1970, was one of the local Auburn/Opelika leaders who worked to bring black sororities to campus. For many years she served as the advisor to the first one, Delta Sigma Theta, which came to campus in 1974. Under the leadership of their first president, Sylvia Little, the women participated in Step Sing, sponsored teas, held a spring dance, and donated hours to civic work with the mental health program, churches, and youth organizations. The sorority had a room in one of the dorms and became an associate member of Panhellenic since its national required different rules for rush. Two years later, under the guidance of Yvonne Hargrove, the second sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, came to campus, and in 1989 Zeta Phi Beta was colonized.

Social life for black coeds centered around the Afro-American Association, and the highlight of the year was the recognition banquet at Foy Union. Gail Freeman Franklin remembered fondly that because the numbers were so small, "all the black students knew each other. We would have parties at Chewacla Park, rent the back room at the Heart of Auburn restaurant for galas, meet at the Eagle's Nest, and hang out along the steps of the Haley Center concourse to hear what was going on." Parties were coordinated so that there was only one party each weekend evening. Sunday church dates were important, and some students enjoyed activities at the Baptist Student Union. Franklin recalled that in the 1970s some black students came and then left, "overwhelmed by the size of the campus" and perhaps intimidated by the high percentage of white students. Lillie Echols Cannon prizes her Auburn degree, remembering the hard classes and appreciating the academic advisors who gave her constant encouragement.

In 1987 when Vivian Larkin became director of special programs, the emphasis fell upon improving the quality of African-American social life on campus and increasing the contacts between faculty and students through such activities as the "Mentor" program. Despite Auburn's efforts in minority recruiting, in fall quarter 1991 there were only 1,010 minority students on campus, 517 males and 493 females.(140) African-American coeds participated in all areas of campus life, especially as War Eagle girls, on the Plainsman staff, as Tigerettes, and in the Student Government Association, but in 1992 no black coed had been selected as a cheerleader or majorette. It is interesting to note that an African-American male, Harold Melton, was elected president of the SGA in 1987, a year before the organization had its first female president, Cindy Holland. In 1992 African American leader Elizabeth Humphrey ran a strong race for SGA president and had widespread support.

For decades Dr. Morgan W. Brown had directed the Student Health Center, a place women avoided if they believed the tales told to freshmen coeds that vet students gave physical exams there. In November 1978, Drake Student Health Center had its first female director when Dr. Judith S. Hood took responsibility for student health services. When the Asian flu epidemic hit the A.P.I. campus in 1919 there had been no infirmary, so Smith Hall was turned into a hospital and all the coeds were asked to serve as nurses. When the measles epidemic came in 1989, 16,000 students lined up to take shots, and there was a School of Nursing to give support when needed.

Auburn University finally made a commitment to women's intercollegiate athletics in the 1970s. Urged on by Title IX provisions, in 1976 the university hired Dr. Joanna Davenport as the first full-time women's athletic director. She was told that at Auburn there would be separate training rooms for male and female athletes. A dressing room in the coliseum was converted to a women's training room; when Coach Pat Dye became athletic director in May 1981, he was comfortable with joint training rooms, and the facilities were combined. Dr. Davenport pushed hard for female athletes to be able to eat in Sewell Hall with male scholarship athletes. This was achieved but was soon abolished at the coaches' request because the girls could not assimilate the high-calorie meals served at Sewell, and Dr. Davenport made other arrangements.

In the early years the women's sports program had been supported by the physical education department; after 1976, it was funded by the athletic department. Within nine years the budget grew from $100,000 to more than one million dollars. Professors in the physical education department who served as part-time coaches were replaced with full-time professional coaches, top-ranked opponents were scheduled, and facilities were expanded. Auburn kept moving toward full NCAA equivalency in the women's scholarship program for each sport.

By 1977 Auburn women were competing in eight sports: basketball, golf, gymnastics, softball, swimming/diving, tennis, track/field, and volleyball. Two time SEC champion Sissy Costner and All-American Angela King led the Lady Tigers track team in the 1980s, and the women's basketball program achieved national prominence under the leadership of Coach Joe Ciampi, winning the SEC in 1989. The outstanding play of African-American coeds Ruthie Bolton, Carolyn Jones, and Vicki Orr had much to do with the excellent performance of the Lady Tigers. Jones and Orr were stars on the U.S. women's team at the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. The women's golf team won the SEC championship in 1989.

In 1986, the university established a woman's companion award to the Cliff Hare Award, the highest award a male athlete could receive. Named for a world champion water skier and a 1958 AU graduate, Leah Rawls Atkins, the first award was made to Tracie Tips, a diver on the swim team with 3.58 grade point average in pre-medicine. In June 1992, Dr. Jane Moore became the first female to chair the Faculty Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics. If football is eliminated from the statistics, in 1992 women at Auburn hold more athletic scholarships than men. But since Auburn women students do not "walk-on" and participate without scholarships (as many males do) the number of women involved in the university's intercollegiate sports programs has been limited.(141)

In addition to developing Auburn's sports programs, Title IX also forced the university into administrative changes in the student affairs office. A position of dean of men or dean of women was now illegal. As dean of Student Affairs, James Foy assumed responsibility for student organization and discipline, while Dean Cater became dean of Student Life, a term she laughingly said she preferred over student "affairs." Cater was responsible for all student housing. Following her death and Dean Foy's retirement, a number of responsibilities were combined under Dr. Harold Grant. Later Dr. Pat Harris Barnes assumed these expanded duties and in 1985 became the first female vice-president at Auburn as vice-president for Student Affairs. The Board of Trustees remained all male (except for the ex-officio membership of Governor Lurleen Wallace) until 1975 when Governor George C. Wallace selected Dr. Sue Fincher for an unexpired trustee term. Governor Wallace appointed the second female and the first black member of the trustees when in 1985 he chose Dr. Bessie Mae Holloway, an Auburn alumna from Prichard.

In the 1980s the social changes that were evident in the 1960s were firmly entrenched. Formal dances almost vanished from the campus, and more social events were held outside the Auburn area. Panama City Beach, Fort Walton, or Destin house parties emptied the campus on Thursdays in late April and early May. Fraternity and sorority parties were more informal affairs. Printed T-shirts and sweat shirts became the symbols of the age and commemorated house parties and formals and were even used in campus elections to advertise candidates.

Coeds felt no need to make a fashion statement when dressing for class. Those shorts unknown to A.P.I.'s first female students and hidden under flapping raincoats by coeds 50 years later, were now the standard dress for class. Shorts were worn with knee socks and parkas in December, as well as with sandals and sleeveless T-shirts in summer, while silk and linen dresses hung in dormitory closets ready for Phi Kappa Phi initiation, for church, or other special occasions. By the end of the decade bathing suits took less fabric, and surely the Jello Splash or the 1990 Miss AU Tan Contest would have caused Zoe Dobbs to blush.

The three coeds who had entered A.P.I. in 1892 joined the cadets, faculty, and townspeople at the field behind Samford Hall to watch the Auburn football team play. If they could have been present on the campus on December 2, 1989, they would not have believed the scene. Alabama had come to Auburn to play the Tigers at Jordan-Hare, and it was a grand day for Auburn University.

In 1992 Auburn women's grade point averages remained high, as they had 100 years before. Indeed, for every quarter between 1982 and 1992 women's grade point averages were higher than the men's.(142) When the century opened, tuition for women was $12. In 1992 nine months of tuition cost an Auburn coed who was a resident of Alabama $1,755. There were no women on the Auburn faculty until the home demonstration extension agents began teaching home economics in the summer term of 1914. In 1969 Auburn's faculty was 12.5 percent female; by 1992 female faculty was only just over 20 percent, and they were less likely to be holding endowed chairs or full professorships.(143) Coed enrollment in the fall of 1991 was 9,602, 44 percent of the total enrollment of 21,836.(144)

The world and Auburn have changed in 100 years. The experiment farms are far outside of town and across the state, not just on the south campus behind Comer Hall. Agriculturalists are as likely to raise catfish in artificial ponds as pigs in a sty, and cotton is not king anymore. The land-grant and extension missions have changed to meet the needs of a new society, and Xn coed, Ann Thompson, serves as vice president for Extension. Two former Auburn coeds have flown in space and Auburn alumnae are doctors, nurses, scholars, and teachers; engineers, architects, and bankers. Auburn women design clothes, create works of art, and treat sick animals. Auburn women are county agents, lab technicians, and accountants. They operate computers, combines, and co-ops. They dispense drugs in hospitals and plan menus for schools. Two alumnae played on the U.S. women's basketball team in the 1992 Olympics.

But despite all the years and all the changes, some things have remained the same. The coeds of 1892 would recognize the outside of Samford Hall in 1992 if not the inside, and they could still order a freshly squeezed lemonade at the soda fountain at Toomer's drugstore. They would remember the names on buildings as people they knew, and they would find their names there, too. If they wandered into a classroom, the desks would be strange, but professors who inspire and challenge students would not be unlike those who taught them. The women of '92 would understand Auburn's struggle to provide quality education without adequate financial resources from the state, and they would feel right at home at a Golden Eagles reunion. The cheers might have different words and the songs different tunes, but the love and commitment, "The Auburn Spirit," they would recognize.


121. Sam Brewster, "A General History of Alabama Polytechnic Institute," 18, AU Archives, and AU 1962 Self Study, 14: 14-15.

122. Tom Little, Soaring Eagles (Montgomery: L & M Corp. No page numbers.

123. Charles W. Edwards, Auburn Starts a Second Century (Auburn: A.P.I., 1958), 24 25.

124. Auburn Bulletin, March 23, 1980; AU 1962 Self Study, 14: 16.

125. Ralph B. Draughon to Walter S. Newman, December 16, 1952, AU Series, Women, file #708.

126. Ibid.

127. Barbara Meshad Dooley, Put Me in Coach: Confessions of a Football Wife (Marietta: Longstreet Press, 1991), 1-2.

128. Plainsman, July 6, 1950.

129. "Rules for Women in Case of Panty Raids," Katharine Cater Collection, Box 1, #47.

130. Plainsman, October 21, 30, 1959.

131. Mickey Logue, "A Close Look at Auburn University Today," reprinted from The Birmingham News series, October 4-18, 1964.

132. Plainsman, February 8, 15, May 5, 1961.

133. Plainsman, October 21, 1959, March 3, 1961.

134. Typed manuscript of interview with Harry M. Philpott, January 13, 1992, 223-24, AU Archives.

135. Enrollment statistics from AU catalogs, 1971, 1981, 1991.

136. Copies of acts and information on affirmative action and gender equity provided by Debra Armstrong-Wright, AU AA/EEOC office.

137. Plainsman, April 3, 1970.

138. Jack C. Willers, "Perspective: The Campus View," July 9, 1972, a press review essay from Auburn University.

139. Glomerata, 1974.

140. "Enrollment of Black Students by Gender, Fall Quarters, 1964-1991," Office of Planning and Analysis, March 12, 1992.

141. Media Guides for Lady Tiger Basketball, 1980-81, 8; 1987-88, 4; telephone interview with Buddy Davidson, June 24, 1992, and Joanna Davenport, June 24, 1992.

142. Auburn University: Facts and Fiqures, 13: April 1992, 27, 29.

143. "Distribution of Full Time Faculty by Sex, 1971-72- to 1991-92," AU Office of Planning and Analysis.

144. "Enrollment by Gender," Office of Planning and Analysis, March 4, 1992.

Blossoms, part 1

Blossoms, part 2