First Women Enrolled as College Goes Coed from the Union College Chronicle, 1970.

“We all become brothers and sisters…”

Commemorating 50 years of co-education at Union College, 1970-2020

Two words.

“…et soeurs.”

“…and sisters.”

In 2015, the Union College board of trustees approved a motion to modify the college’s centuries-old motto to add the French words for “and sisters.”

Sous les lois de Minerve nous devenons tous frères et sœurs.

Translation: “Under the laws of Minerva, we all become brothers and sisters.” 

As former president Stephen Ainlay wrote after the new motto became official, “[T]hose words now make explicitly clear that Union is a place of inclusion and a shared intellectual mission for all.”

The modification of the Union College motto came 45 years after the College first began admitting women, and this year marks 50 years of coeducation on the Union campus. We celebrate this watershed moment in its history with “We All Become Brothers and Sisters,” an exhibit that draws on materials from the Special Collections & Archives in the Schaffer Library. 

The goal of the exhibit is to recognize the sisterhood of students whose accomplishments have helped shaped Union’s success. With courage and commitment, these women and others, alongside students of color, helped build the foundation for a more diverse student body, faculty and leadership at Union College. Today, women represent 47 percent of enrolled students.

By modifying Union’s motto, the board of trustees affirmed Union’s commitment to the brotherhood and sisterhood for all students. This pledge of unity seems particularly relevant today, as the world unites in its fight against the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. Despite the challenges the COVID-19 outbreak brought to the Union College campus and the rest of the world, we mark this milestone in the history of Union College. We are hopeful that in the fall a new exhibit commemorating 50 years of coeducation will be mounted in the Shaffer Library, as originally planned. In the meantime, please explore here online a sampling of stories, biographies and images of the remarkable women who changed the face of Union College, as we celebrate 50 years of coeducation.

Many thanks to Sarah Schmidt, Joanna DiPasquale, Jennifer Byrd, Rebecca Fried, Marlaine DesChamps, Andrea Belair, Leslee Barkley and especially Frances Maloy for their help in making this exhibit possible. 

India Spartz
Guest Curator

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