To me, the admission of undergraduate women to Lehigh changed and enhanced the thinking, the experience, and the nature of our university. I thought of it then as the first of a series of incremental investments in normality, and somewhat ironically, I questioned my attending an all-male college in the first place.
And, yet, I remember well that the first day “of undergraduate women on campus” was more like some newsreel I had seen of the celebration of Victory in Europe — in Paris, in 1945. I felt that if the chaos of the first day was an indicator of all of what the experience would be, the overall result would not be what I had hoped for. I was wrong.
Normality began to emerge even while I was still on campus. I became close friends with women in that first class, and we remain friends today — though distance and time are challenging. I was able to engage in projects and even teach with “coed” classmates which highlighted the capability of those with whom I worked and definitely provided different viewpoints — in all subjects. Views on current events and nationwide protests were also closely shared and debated, as was laughter, humor, and comfort.
My experience with women on campus provided me insight, and still forms a major part of my focus, on the value of differing thoughts and views. The experience was powerful enough for me to strongly encourage my niece to apply to Lehigh, and once an undergraduate, she applied for and became a Gryphon. Her passion for her alma mater is a current testament that what was billed as an “experiment” was truly the enhancing first step to the normality of a more complete university.