Five women successively guided students on the Purdue University campus in America's heartland during the 1930s to 1990s. Each became a legendary dean of women or dean of students. Collectively, they wove a sisterhood of mutual support in their common-sometimes thwarted-pursuit of shared human rights and equality for all.
Dorothy Stratton, Helen Schleman, Beverley Stone, Barbara Cook, and Betty Nelson opened new avenues for women and became conduits for change, fostering opportunities for all people. They were loved by students and revered by colleagues. The women also were respected throughout the United States as founding leaders of the Coast Guard Women’s Reserve (SPARs), frontrunners in the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors, and pivotal members of presidential committees in the Kennedy and Nixon administrations.
Conveying the impact these women had upon Purdue, the University Press has published The Deans' Bible. This fascinating text sheds light on cultural change in America, exploring how each of the deans participated nationally in the quest for equality. As each woman succeeded the other, they knitted their bond with a secret symbol-a Bible. The Bible was handed down from dean to dean with favorite passages marked.
The word "bible" is often used in connection with reference works or "guidebooks". The Deans' Bible is just that, brimming with stories of courageous women who led by example and lived their convictions. This site includes images that could not be accommodated in the print publication, yet display the special bond Stratton, Schleman, Stone, Cook, and Nelson held with Purdue University, its students, and each other.
|Dorothy Stratton||Helen Schleman||Beverley Stone||Barbara Cook||Betty Nelson|
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Dorothy Constance Stratton (1899–2006) served as Dean of Women at Purdue from 1933 until 1947, at a time in which the enrollment of women students jumped from less than 500 to more than 1,400. During her tenure at Purdue, she oversaw the creation of a liberal science program for women in the School of Science as well as an employment placement center. She helped established the Housemother Training School that gave intensive training to fraternity and sorority housemothers from across the United States. In 1942, during the Second World War, Stratton took a military leave of absence from Purdue and was commissioned to create and direct the Women's Reserve of the Coast Guard, also known as SPARS (an acronym she coined based on the phrase "Semper Paratus, Always Ready"). Upon her retirement from the military in 1946, she was awarded a Legion of Merit Medal for her contributions to women in the armed forces. Stratton went on to serve as the first director of personnel at the International Monetary Fund and then later as an executive director of the Girl Scouts of the America until her retirement in 1960.
Helen Blanche Schleman (1902–1992), noted "unapologetic feminist," came to Purdue in 1934 as director of the first women's residence hall, subsequent to the razing of Ladies Hall in 1927. After taking a four-year leave of absence to serve in the Women's Coast Guard Reserve during World War II, Schleman returned to Purdue in 1947 as Dean of Women. She is acknowledged for having fought for women's rights at Purdue, including terminating the curfew for women students and spearheading a freshman conference program for women. Also during her tenure at Purdue, she earned a master's degree in education and psychology. Schleman retired as Dean of Women in 1968 and went on to become founder and first director of the Span Plan, a program which encourages adult students to continue or start their college careers. She remained an active member of the community until her death in 1992. Schleman Hall, which now houses the Purdue's Student Services department, is named in her honor.
Beverley Stone began her 24-year career at Purdue in 1956, serving in the Office of the Dean of Women as an advisor to student organizations such as the Student Government, Panhellenic Association and Mortar Board. In 1968, she succeeded Helen Schleman as Dean of Women with the rank of assistant professor. In addition to successfully pulling through the "campus wars" during the turbulent 1960s, she ensured that students' voices were heard, requiring that they be appointed to faculty committees and held "speaking seats" at the Board of Trustees meetings. In 1974, after the Dean of Women and Dean of Men offices were combined, Stone was named Purdue's first Dean of Students, the first woman ever to hold such a position at a Big Ten university. It was also in this year that she coauthored a book with her colleague Barbara Cook entitled Counseling Women. Stone was an active member of many professional and community organizations and recipient of numerous honors and awards. In 1980, Stone retired, and Barbara Cook became her successor as Dean of Students. A sculpture honoring both women stands between Schleman and Hovde halls. After her retirement from Purdue University, Stone remained active in community affairs and successfully ran for City Council in West Lafayette in 1983 and served from 1984–1988.
Barbara Cook (1929–2013) came to Purdue in 1956 as a counselor in the Office of the Dean of Women. She received her B.A. in Sociology from the University of Arkansas in 1951, a M.A. in Student Personnel Administration from Syracuse University in 1954, a Ph.D. in Counseling and Personnel Services from Purdue University in 1967 as well as an honorary doctorate from Purdue University in 1996. One of her early responsibilities as councilor in the Dean’s office involved serving as an advisor to Mortar Board, a senior-student honor society over which she presided for nearly thirty years. Cook also served as director of the Placement Service for Women, assistant and associate Dean of Women, associate Dean of Students, and, from 1980-1987, Dean of Students. She was a lecturer in the School of Education starting in 1970, and a professor of education from 1987-1989. Nationally recognized for her efforts in promoting career opportunities for women, Cook served in several positions within the National Association of Women Deans, Administrators, and Councilors (NAWDAC) including serving as President from 1975–1976. She is also the recipient of numerous awards for her work, including the Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion for Distinguished Contributions to Purdue University, the Dean Beverley Stone Award for Personal Counseling Contributions, and the Distinguished Lifetime Mortar Board Member Award. Since her retirement in 1989, Barbara Cook has been an active member of the Lafayette community and involved with many organizations, including the Salvation Army, Greater Lafayette YWCA, West Lafayette Redevelopment Commission, and the Indiana Governor's Commission for Women. Today, the current chapter of the Purdue Mortar Board is named in Cook's honor, who advised the group from 1956-1986.
Originally from West Virginia, Betty Nelson received a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from the Women's Division of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and then a master's degree in student personnel administration from Ohio University. She served over 30 years on the staff of Purdue University, beginning in the Psychology Department before being asked to join Helen Schleman's staff in the Dean of Women's office. Nelson succeeded Barbara Cook as Purdue's Dean of Students in 1987 and served as Dean until her retirement in 1995. As Dean, Nelson helped create the Disability Resource Center, established the Student Leadership Development Program, and served in leadership positions in the National Association for Women Deans, Advisors, and Counselors and in the Indiana AWDAC. Nelson has also been active in numerous community activities, serving in leadership roles with the Community Foundation of Greater Lafayette, the Lafayette Rotary Club, the Lafayette YWCA and other local service organizations. Some of Dean Nelson's awards and honors include the Sagamore of the Wabash, the Helen B. Schleman Gold Medallion, and the Amelia Earhart Award.
Like pearls threaded one-by-one to form a necklace, five women successively nurtured students on the Purdue University campus in America's heartland during the 1930s to 1990s. Individually, each became a legendary dean of women or dean of students. Collectively, they wove a sisterhood of mutual support in their common-sometimes thwarted-pursuit of shared human rights and equality for all.
Dorothy C. Stratton, Helen B. Schleman, M. Beverley Stone, Barbara I. Cook, and Betty M. Nelson opened new avenues for women and became conduits for change, fostering opportunities for all people. They were loved by students and revered by colleagues. The women also were respected throughout the United States as founding leaders of the Coast Guard Women's Reserve (SPARs), frontrunners in the National Association of Women Deans and Counselors, and pivotal members of presidential committees in the Kennedy and Nixon administrations.
While it is focused on changing attitudes on one college campus, The Deans' Bible sheds light on cultural change in America as a whole, exploring how each of the deans participated nationally in the quest for equality. The story rolls through the "picture-perfect," suppressive 1950s; explores the awakening 1960s of women's liberation; describes the challenging 1980s, with AIDS and alcohol epidemics; and sails into the twenty-first century as a United States Coast Guard cutter is named after Dorothy Stratton and commissioned by First Lady Michelle Obama.
As each woman succeeded the other, forming a five-dean friendship, they knitted their bond with a secret symbol-a Bible. Originally possessed by Purdue's first part-time Dean of Women Carolyn Shoemaker, the Bible was handed down from dean to dean with favorite passages marked. The lowercase word "bible" is often used in connection with reference works or "guidebooks." The Deans' Bible is just that, brimming with stories of courageous women who led by example and lived their convictions.
Angie Klink writes biographies, histories, documentaries, children’s books, essays, and advertising copy. Klink was the scriptwriter for the 2013 documentary about public education, Rise Above the Mark, narrated by Peter Coyote. She is the author of Kirby’s Way: How Kirby and Caroline Risk Built their Company on Kitchen-Table Values and Divided Paths, Common Ground: The Story of Mary Matthews and Lella Gaddis.
Klink also has authored the children’s books Purdue Pete Finds His Hammer and I Found U, and she is published in four titles for the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. She has won forty-four American Advertising Federation ADDY Awards. Klink holds a BA from the Brian Lamb School of Communication at Purdue University. She lives in Indiana with her husband, two sons, and rescue dog, Chloe.
On March 19, 2014, a book launch event was held in the Virginia Kelly Karnes Archives and Special Collections Research Center. As part of the celebration of The Dean's Bible, alumna and former educator Marylu McEwen, who has made several contributions to Archives and Special Collections and many other areas throughout the university, was honored with the Outstanding Contribution to Women's Archives Award. The special event also included comments by Dean of Libraries James L. Mullins, University Archivist and Head of Archives and Special Collections Sammie Morris, Purdue University Press Director Charles Watkinson, former Dean of Students Betty Nelson, and The Dean's Bible author Angie Klink.