Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Douglass Residential college at Rutgers University was founded by the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs in 1918.
At the start of the 20th century’s second decade, the State of New Jersey offered limited higher education for women. That changed when the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, active in the women’s rights movement at that time, asked Mabel Smith Douglass to head a committee that would establish a women’s college as part of Rutgers University.
Douglass was appointed Dean of the New Jersey College for Women when it opened in 1918 with just 54 students and some 16 faculty members. Students had the choice of liberal arts or home economic curriculum. With her commitment to providing women a four-year college education and outstanding leadership, Douglass spent the next 14 years shaping the college and was instrumental in helping students rise to success.
Douglass was an extraordinarily energetic woman, which played a major role in her accomplishments and success as the founding dean of NJC. Her advocacy with state legislators helped pave the path for the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs to open the doors for women, even though resources were very limited. It was the largest public women's college in the United States and continued to grant degrees into the 21st century.
In 1955, the college was renamed Douglass College in her honor.
In 2007 the Douglass Residential College was formed, a residential college within Rutgers University, as the result of a compromise between those who wanted a complete merger and those who wanted the college to remain as a separate, degree-granting institution