and Co-Education (HM)
Georgetown College and Co-Education Historical Marker
Written by: Joey Schulte ('14)
Like most undergraduate institutions, Georgetown College has not always been a co-educational institution. In its earliest years, Georgetown educated young men even though the campus was in close proximity to the local female Baptist seminary. The name "seminary" is a misnomer however, as the primary purpose of these institutions was to instruct women in a variety of subjects, rather than to instruct in religious endeavors only. Female seminaries fostered growth in literacy while offering instruction by professionalized teachers, many of whom taught at four-year colleges. Such was the case with the Georgetown Female Seminary: Professor J.J. Rucker, instructor of Mathematics at Georgetown College, taught at the Seminary as well.
Indeed, the path to Georgetown becoming co-educational was neither short nor easy and would not have been accomplished without the efforts of Rucker, who dedicated his life to the betterment of education for women in the area. Rucker pioneered the co-educational idea not only by his efforts in the classroom—where he taught French, English, natural science, history, Latin, mathematics, mental and moral philosophy, music, painting, and physical education-- but also by helping found the Euepian Literary Society for women. By 1884, in large part to the efforts of Rucker, women were taking classes at Georgetown College alongside the men. The men of Georgetown College approved of these steps and it is said that Professor Rucker enacted strict rules as to the contact that the men and women had with one another. To protect the young women from their male counter parts, it is said that Rucker would escort the women whenever they would be in contact with the men of the school.
Finally in 1892 Georgetown College became permanently co-educational. In honor of Rucker's role in championing the education of women on an equal footing with the men of Georgetown College, the first women's dormitory was completed in 1895 and named after Rucker. Demolished in 1971, Rucker Hall was situated where the Phi Kappa Tau, President's House, and Phi Mu houses now stand.