By Tanner Adomaitis, Staff Writer
Originally Published October 31, 2023
In 1982, it was decided that Saint Vincent College (SVC), a then all-male institution, would become co-educational. In the following year, 1983, SVC welcomed its first freshmen class of both men and women. Now, forty years later in 2023, on Oct. 26, an event honoring 40 women with exceptional achievements both at and outside of SVC was held called 40 Forward.
In her opening remarks of 40 Forward, Morgan Paris, Institutional Marketing Manager and Editor-in-Chief of 1846: The Magazine of Saint Vincent College, stated that the idea that repeatedly and naturally arose for the event was to choose 40 women for 40 years, which became the feature of the program. Over 200 exceptional women were nominated, and a selection committee was assembled to select 40 women to be honored in the program.
“We made our selections based on strong representation of the mission of Saint Vincent College, achievement and leadership in their field, and service to and impact on the college,” Paris said. “It was very tough, but we found our forty.
Honorees selected included alumni as well as current and former faculty and staff. Following the opening remarks, a panel consisting of Brother Norman Hipps, the Academic Dean at the time of the decision, Alice Kaylor, former Dean of Studies, and Father Earl Henry, who worked in admissions at the time of the decision, discussed the decision and implementation process of the college becoming co-educational. Hipps discussed how the transition to co-education was not irregular at the time and followed by elaborating on the basis for the discussion.
“I think in the experience of many of our faculty and myself, we really appreciated the presence of women in our classrooms from Seton Hill,” Hipps said.
The decision to become co-educational was made in January of 1982, giving the college a year and a half to prepare for their first co-educational class. Henry also provided commentary on the decision process, and his thoughts behind the discussion to become co-educational.
“We were educating men for professional lives, and they need to experience the presence of women in their lives in an educational setting, so what are we waiting for?” Henry said.
The average percentage of women in the first co-educational class for most colleges and universities was approximately 13%. For SVC’s first co-educational class, 33% of the class were women. The panelists also discussed the positive reaction of the men to the college becoming co-educational. To end the panel, Kaylor offered closing remarks.
“As I look out tonight and I see all of you wonderful women, who are so distinguished and have given so much to Saint Vincent, to your family and professional lives, my wish would be that for the next 40 years of current students to continue your path,” Kaylor said.
Tailing the panel, Heather Albright called the names of all honorees who were asked to rise and receive recognition for their remarkable accomplishments. Afterwards, honorees Sue Hozak, Deputy Athletic Director and Women’s Volleyball Coach, Dr. Doreen Blandino, Chair and Professor of Modern and Classical Languages, and SVC alumna Jennifer Miele offered remarks about honorees who have passed away.
Hozak spoke first, honoring the late Coach Kristen Zawacki, the first female coach in school’s history who was named the head women’s basketball coach for the first season from 1983 to 1984 and later assumed the same position for the softball team in 1985. Blandino honored the late Professor Emeritus Vera Slezak of Foreign Language, who was the first woman to serve on the faculty. Lastly, Miele spoke in honor of the late Carolyn Attneave, who became the first Native American woman ever to earn her PhD in Psychology.
To close the event, the Master of Ceremonies Aubrey Cintron, SVC alumna, the Director of Alumni Relations and the first woman to hold the position, offered final remarks honoring the women who came before her and allowed her to forge her own path that led her to her position.
Those looking for more information about the honorees and their historical impacts can look forward to the Winter Edition of 1846: The Magazine of Saint Vincent College.