Friday, May 13, 2016

UW Punished Sexist with Co-ed Monument

Some strange things have been known to happen in Madison at the University of Wisconsin, sometimes referred to as "Berkeley East." Pranksters and student rebels have long called the campus home.

I thought I'd heard about all the weird happenings at my alma mater until a recent newsletter explained how a sexist university president continues to get his comeuppance to this day.

Paul Chadbourne, the newsletter says, was an inspiring leader and teacher who helped the university thrive after the Civil War. However, his activities did not extend to supporting equality for women. He was notorious for opposing co-education at Wisconsin. A "normal school" to train teachers opened on campus in 1863 and 76 women were enrolled. However, that's as far as Chadbourne was willing to go. The normal school was segregated; only women could attend, and they were not allowed to take other UW classes.

Chadbourne died in 1883 before co-ed proponents completely reversed the institution's policies, but his name lives on at UW in a strange way. Dean Edward Birge apparently was one of Chadbourne's major adversaries. In 1897, the school opened Ladies Hall, its first women's dormitory,  Birge insisted it be renamed for President Chadbourne. He said, "I thought it was only fair that Dr. Chadbourne's contumacy (stubborn perverseness) regarding co-education should be punished by attaching his name to a building which turned out to be one of the main supports of co-education."

The original Chadbourne Hall looked somewhat like this when I passed it on the way to classes. 

The original Chadbourne Hall stood until 1957. I trudged past it many times for four years oblivious to its history. It was a weather-beaten building, not in the best repair, and about the time I graduated it was demolished and replaced by a modern structure carrying the same name.

My, how things have changed. Although male students outnumbered women (except for World War II years) at UW until 1995, enrollment has been near 50-50 since then. Women have been successful students in every discipline. Chadbourne Hall, known to students as "The Chad," how houses male and female students as well as UW classrooms where courses are open to all.

Paul Chadbourne might turn over in his grave.  If he did, he could possibly catch a glimpse of a towering continuing monument to his perversity.

The University of Wisconsin's monument to Paul Chadbourne now is modern and co-educational.

9 comments:

Jeff Weir said...

Thanks for the story. UW always is interesting.

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

My grandmother graduated with a degree in Latin from a 'women's' college affililiated with UW today, as did several of my paternal aunts who obtained other types of degrees, one of them attending the University of Michigan for twenty summers to earn two master's degrees.

Those "separate and unequal" institutions of higher learning are almost a thing of the past, however in my experience, they produced some very fine women. Having attended a girls college myself...Mary Washington College in Virginia (today a coed university), and having gone on from there to Georgetown to earn a masters, and other universities with boys and held my own even in math, I have never seen the particular advantage of attending co-ed institutions of learning. As long as the facilities receive equal funding and resources, who needs men? My two cents....

Rummuser said...

Very interesting story of 'his'story!

Dick Klade said...

Good points, Dianne. My sister got a very good education at a college for women only. It was well-funded at the time and had a good reputation in her chosen field. There is nothing that makes co-education intrinsically better. However, in the old days there probably were many women who wanted to pursue degrees in fields not open to them because the colleges they could attend didn't offer the necessary courses.

Kay said...

Oh my gosh! This is too funny! I love it!

Tom Sightings said...

My how things have changed! I don't know what the ratio is at UW, but nationwide females now outnumber males in college by 57% to 43%. Some people believe this is because discrimination has now reversed, that the educational establishment favors females over males. Dunno if it's true.

Dick Klade said...

Tom: The latest data showed UW enrollment at 51 percent female, 49 percent men. The reverse discrimination theory seems dubious. All applicants must provide the same data, including scores on tests that strongly influence acceptance. Some colleges give preference to children of grads, but that would probably favor males because of the long history of male majorities in graduating classes.

Jhawk23 said...

A nice "just desserts" story. Here in Washington DC, I've have always thought it was an odd similar-but-not-perhaps-intentional anomaly that a major government office building, housing among other agencies the Environmental Protection Agency, should be named after President Ronald Reagan who could hardly be characterized as a champion of government or the environment. Although the building was originally conceived to be the first major federal combined government/private edifice, and is still referred to officially as the Reagan Building and International Trade Center, the private part really hasn't turned out very well.

Republicans tried to rename everything in sight after Ronald Reagan. Most prominent was simple old "National" airport which became "Ronald W. Reagan National Airport." Perhaps appropriate in a perverse way, because of his role in breaking the air controllers' strike.

joared said...

Have to chuckle with the naming of that women's dorm -- interesting story. Guess there's something to be said for all-girls or all-boys schools, but then co-ed schools provide more opportunity to develop socia skills. Perhaps which type school is best might depend on the student and who who thrive best where.