First-hand account of so many firsts
I wanted to make a guest appearance in Virginia Magazine to write you and call attention to this special anniversary issue.
It tells the story of how the last public university in the country—not counting the military academies; their day would come later—finally agreed to grant women full admission.
It’s a story close to my heart and integral to my UVA experience. I’m part of the Class of 1974, that first wave of undergraduate women who arrived on Grounds 50 years ago this fall.
It took a lawsuit to get us here. I wasn’t part of it. I knew about it generally, but not the particulars, and certainly not the backstory that I hope you’ll read.
As much as I love UVA, and have always loved UVA, I can tell you it wasn’t always easy breaking the barrier.
In another story, women from my class and others talk about what it was like in those early days of coeducating Mr. Jefferson’s University.
My cohort’s anniversary isn’t the only one we celebrate. This year also marks the centennial of women (whites only at the time) gaining entry to the graduate and professional schools.
It’s one of scores of important mile markers along the way to women’s quest to gain influence, an education, and equality at UVA, a 200-year continuum beautifully presented here.
As someone who participated in some of that history, I can’t begin to describe the honor it is for me to introduce this special issue of Virginia Magazine, and to do so from a position few, least of all I, would ever have imagined 50 years ago—as chair of the Alumni Association Board of Managers.
I’m not the first woman to head this venerable body, nor will I be the last, but I’m mindful, and so thankful, that the timing of my term happens to coincide with these special anniversaries.
How fitting, too, that our Alumni Association can chronicle these momentous stories of UVA history for us from the alumni perspective and through the independent voice of Virginia Magazine.
Happy anniversary everyone!
Patricia Kyle Epps (Col ’74, Grad ’79, Law ’83)
Chair, UVA Alumni Association Board of Managers