College President James Freedman said "Dartmouth did itself a favor 25 years ago" when the Board of Trustees decided to admit women to Dartmouth.
"Women have enriched this College tremendously," Freedman told students, alumni, administrators and faculty who gathered in the top of the Hopkins Center for a gala reception held to mark the 25th anniversary of the Trustees' decision to admit women to the College.
Freedman and Trustee Kate Stith-Cabranes '73 addressed the guests and a student jazz group played as hors d'oeuvres and wine were served.
Freedman said he thinks the decision to admit women was the result of the courage of many people -- former College President John Kemeny, the Trustees and "the women who came here and found an environment not always friendly and congenial and welcoming."
Stith-Cabranes said she came to Dartmouth as an exchange student in 1971 as a junior after spending two years at the University of California at Berkeley.
She said Dartmouth was a diverse place at that time in terms of student backgrounds and student activities, "yet there was something terribly askew -- there were no women."
Stith-Cabranes said when she came to Dartmouth the College was debating whether to admit women.
"Could Dartmouth admit women and still be Dartmouth?" was the question everyone was asking, she said.
But in 1971, she said, women were already beginning to "move in from the periphery" as members of the faculty and administration and as exchange students.
"Kemeny had put women in the classrooms when no one was looking and without a vote," Stith-Cabranes said. "There were more than 200 women on college exchange."
"Truth be told, the women had arrived before November of '71" and they were not going to leave," she said.
Stith-Cabranes said she remembers "the day the Trustees came to campus to make the decision" of whether to admit women.
She said she was on the staff of The Dartmouth and "we were a jubilant crew as we wrote those headlines" announcing the Trustees' decision.
"There has been much water under the bridge in the last 25 years," Stith-Cabranes said. "But now is the time to celebrate the Trustees' decision."
Mary Schneider '76 said she came up to Hanover from Alabama to be part of the coeducation celebration.
She said the College has come a long way in the last 25 years. "It was kind of strained in the beginning," Schneider said. "But I always had a good time, even though it was tough for some women."