Hamline News

Reflecting on Women’s Equality Day


Women’s Equality Day celebrates the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gave women the right to vote. This day represents the long and difficult journey women have undergone to obtain the level of rights and general respect they have now, but it also encourages everyone to look at how far we need to go to have equal rights and opportunities for all types of women.

Women’s Equality Day is a great reminder to recognize the fantastic contributions and accomplishments of women at Hamline. The first graduates of Hamline University were women, and they rose to be great advocates and leaders.

Elizabeth Sorin —one of the first two women to graduate from any college or university in Minnesota— and another alumnae Julia Bullard Nelson went on to be advocates and leaders in the Women’s Rights Movement. Sorin and her daughter organized the Colorado Non-Partisan Equal Suffrage Association, where women were granted full suffrage in Colorado in part because of their efforts. Nelson, after years of speaking on behalf of women’s rights and rising as a leader in the movement, served as the president of the Minnesota Woman Suffrage Association from 1890 - 1896. Learn more about Hamline’s suffragettes.

Anna Arnold Hedgeman was Hamline’s first African-American graduate, and she led quite a life of legacy. Aside from being an educator and an active advocate for the Civil Rights Movement, Hedgeman was the first African-American woman to hold a mayoral cabinet position in the history of New York City. She also co-founded the National Organization for Women, and recruited 40,000 people to participate in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Hamline University’s Hedgeman Center is named in her honor. Learn more about Ms. Hedgeman.

Nearly 160 years later, the women at Hamline University continue to uphold such high standards of leadership, collaboration, and excellence. In 2017, 66% of the incoming first-year class were women, and women continue to hold many leadership positions in the university.

Among administration, Hamline has tremendous female leadership. At the top of university leadership is Hamline’s first African-American and second woman to serve as president, President Fayneese Miller. Since coming to Hamline, Miller was elected to the national board of the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church, and was appointed by Mark Dayton to both the Minnesota Governor’s Residence Council and the Young Women’s Initiative of Minnesota. Learn more about President Miller.

Women at Hamline lead student organizations, work prestigious internships, host campus-wide events, conduct research projects, compete on sports teams —some make it to the Frozen Four— hold All-American titles, and are award-winning scholars.

Hamline University celebrates not only these current students and alumnae, but all faculty, staff, students, and alumni who have fought for all women’s equality over the years. Looking ahead, we are excited for a future that continues to bend toward equity and equality for all.