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EAHE Professor Pens New Book

Patrick DilleyPatrick Dilley, Associate Professor of Higher Education and Qualitative Research, authored a new book.The Transformation of Women’s Collegiate Education: The Legacy of Virginia Gildersleeve, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in December of 2016. Dilley, a historian of education, examined how and why higher education expanded and changed between 1890 and 1950; he did so primarily through chronicling the life and endeavors of Virginia Crocheron Gildersleeve.

Gildersleeve was a faculty member at Columbia University, one of the few women to be employed in such a position in the early Twentieth Century. In 1911, though, she was appointed Dean of Barnard College, Columbia’s coordinate women’s undergraduate institution. Over her 36 years as dean, Gildersleeve expanded Barnard from a regional to an international institution; secured placement for women into Columbia’s Journalism, Engineering, and Medical schools; served in leadership roles in the American Council on Education and the American Association of University Women; organized the Seven Sisters Colleges; co-founded the International Federation of University Women; and lectured extensively around the country on the importance of collegiate education for women.

Through print and radio journalism, Gildersleeve became perhaps the preeminent voice for women’s collegiate education in the U.S. As World War II approached, Gildersleeve was requested by the U.S. government to spearhead the organization and administration of women’s military service, particularly the effort that became known as the WAVES; it was the first time in history that women were accepted as paid officers and enlisted staff in the U.S. military. During this period Gildersleeve advocated for advanced education and training for women, particularly in what are now called the STEM fields.

Gildersleeve also served as an official observer of English educational endeavors during World War II, and after the war, as an official envoy to Japan to help reshape its social structures. In 1945, Gildersleeve was appointed as a Delegate of the United States to the San Francisco Peace Conference; she was the only woman (and the only direct educator) to be so appointed, and in that role, she was the only woman to sign the charter of the United Nations.

Dilley’s work on Gildersleeve spun out of one of his ongoing projects, which examines college life (particularly for women) during World War II. Dilley, who holds a joint-appointment with Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at SIUC, is also working on a history of the early Midwestern gay and lesbian college student associations; he plans for a book developed from that project to be published in late 2017 or early 2018.