Fully realizing, we trust, the great fact that God has called woman to a high and holy destiny in that He has commissioned her to be a co-laborer with Himself in the great work of enlightening and saving the world, we desire to open a school that shall have for its prime object the adjustment of woman to this her natural and God-given relation. A school for the education and training of girls demands vastly more than that which is contained in the ordinary curriculum. The moral, religious and domestic elements are all necessary for a symmetrical development.

Virginia Alice Cottey,
Cottey Founder & President, 1884

[T]he domestic element so commonly overlooked, is by no means of least importance, since upon it depends in large measure that which give happiness and prosperity to our country—healthy and happy homes.

Virginia Alice Cottey,
Cottey Founder & President, 1884

Virginia Alice Cottey, c. 1890

Cottey College faculty, 1893
Thirst for knowledge is the inevitable result of a real moral stimulus. This is the ground for schools and colleges for women. Christ created the thirst for knowledge, and provided the means for its attainment.

Rev. Dr. William McClure,
Cottey Baccalaureate Sermon, 1898

Gone are the days when a girl went into wage earning only because her father was unable to support her. Gone are the days when women think of occupation only something to fill in the time before marriage. Modern young women are taking their occupational planning and their occupational preparation seriously.

Dr. Florence Boehmer,
Cottey President, 1933

Dr. Florence Boehmer, c. 1938
If you will try out some of the adaptations which socially minded educators commend, if you will dare to experiment in education for personality, you may inaugurate a new movement in higher education.…

First, every girl has a right to look forward to a home, but how much training do colleges give directed toward the making of a really beautiful home?

I do not mean courses in art and chemistry and psychology and literary criticisms, in the hope that some fragments of the courses will be appropriated for home making, I mean direct, conscious training for gracious living.

Dr. Harold Tuttle,
professor at City College, New York, in an address to P.E.O.s, 1937

Dr. Orpha Stockard, 1940
The whole trend in the higher education of women has been toward proving that women have intellectual equality with men. We think that has been proved. We think it has been successfully demonstrated also that women can put their disciplined intellects to work effectively at the tasks that are engaging the efforts of men.

Dr. Florence Boehmer,
Cottey President, 1937

We are now ready to enter upon a new era in the education of women. We women are ready to ask ourselves seriously whether we want – and whether we should want – to engage in activities identical with those of men, and, as a corollary, whether the aims of our college education should be identical with aims of the college education of men. Why shouldn’t they? But just as logically, why should they?

Dr. Florence Boehmer,
Cottey President, 1937

Sewing class, 1939
I believe in education for women with all my heart; I believe in large universities, and in coeducational colleges; yet I also believe in junior colleges and in small women’s colleges. In other words, I believe that women should be educated, but that there is not, necessarily, one right way, as yet, to conduct that educational process.

Dr. Marjorie Mitchell,
Cottey President, 1938

College should and does, in most cases, prepare the individual for service, whether this service be in marriage and parenthood or in a business or professional life.

Every college graduate should be a social asset to the community in which she lives. She should have acquired the ability to assume responsibility whether it is in her own home or in the community. She should know how to entertain so that the entertained will be comfortable and at ease.

Dr. Orpha Stockard,
Cottey Dean, 1938

Chem laboratory, 1939
It would seem that all the training every girl can have in matters of human relationships and moral values will be none too great for her need. Biologically, she is ready for marriage at eighteen; socially, marriage is unwise at that age for most young women; and when marriage comes it will not solve her problems, but probably increase them. It would seem evident that the years which elapse between her arrival at young adulthood and her marriage should be spent in preparing herself for every contingency which may be prepared for.

Dr. Marjorie Mitchell,
Cottey President, 1938

Dr. Marjorie Mitchell, c. 1945

Foods laboratory, 1940
Recently I read an article which called all the softer qualities of character “feminine.” I doubt the intellectual value of such a designation or the soundness of any sex categories in regard to kindness, affection, love of one’s fellows.… But I do believe that if we are to live through especially disturbing times, our greatest safeguard lies in the intelligence and training of our women because of their greater and unbroken intimacy with children. If we must sacrifice the more generally “cultural” education for men, temporarily, I pray that we need not do so for women.

Dr. Marjorie Mitchell,
Cottey President, 1940

Secretarial room, 1940
Duty, citizenship and what is the woman’s job in this disturbed world, are the big lessons for every Cottey girl now. To help young women adjust themselves and make themselves more useful and worthwhile in our war effort is one of Cottey’s purposes today.

Barbara L. Kipper,
Cottey graduate of '38, 1943

Naturally with the changing times some of Cottey’s rules may have been relaxed. But the school’s chief aims are still character-building, class discipline and the responsibilities of group living. The years have not relaxed their vigilance in giving the Cottey girl that certain "something" that is peculiarly Cottey’s mark. She leaves Cottey able "to stand on her own feet." She is more mature for her age, and remarkably ready to accept responsibility. She is living up to one of Mrs. Stockard’s trademarks: "I no longer look for easy tasks; I try to accomplish the hard tasks well and I soon find they become easy."

Virginia Watson,
Assistant in Public Relations, 1955

Chapel, 1959
Chem lab, 1952
As it was Virginia Alice Stockard’s desire, so Cottey strives to build Christian character into the lives of the students and at the same time to maintain recognized educational standards.... The college believes that in the two-year period immediately following secondary school, the liberal arts curriculum with a concurrent opportunity in the fine arts provides the intellectual resources, the disciplines, the breadth that constitute the most desirable preparation for the responsibilities of home and community living and for a continuing growth in a field of specialization.

Billie Anne Beaumont,
President of the Student Body, 1956


International students, 1966
I hope that at Cottey you will come to understand that while grades are important, the really important factor of college life is that a student shall have an awakening and a realization of her own good mind. The best way to develop character at college is to study and thereby to grow. Remember, no education is ever worthwhile unless it is achieved with some degree of battle and sacrifice.

Dr. Blanche Dow,
Cottey president, 1960

Dr. Blanche Dow, c. 1950
To a certain regrettable degree College has become a status symbol… one of the big problems is that too many girls are going for reasons not related to higher education.

Dr. Blanche Dow,
Cottey president, 1963



Biology class, 1966

In a thousand subtle ways young women in college and even in high school are propelled by their counselors toward soft courses, pushed into so-called women’s occupations, and turned away from science and mathematics and philosophy. Consider the waste of human resources built up by this attitude toward the abilities and talents of women. Women constitute not only an essential but a distinctive part of our human resources and yet in the need for more talent to fill the vacancies in the required work of our modern, complex, automated civilization, the notion is being perpetuated that leadership, scholarship and administrative aptitude are not human qualities found in all gifted persons, but are the property of the male sex alone. To cling to this outworn notion that occupation should be sex related is an expensive luxury in the face of the present shortages.

Dr. Anna Rose Hawkes,
Cottey Dean of Students, 1964

Coffee Hour, 1968

Coffee Hour, 1968
Coffee hours, dinners, formal dances, decorating the suite living rooms for special occasions, and similar Cottey activities foster social development. One of the reasons why I selected a college for women was that I feel a woman’s education should follow her life’s pattern. It is not Cottey’s primary purpose to “knock the rough edges off,” but the gracious Cottey atmosphere maintains a kind of contact with the real world and wards off the feeling of institutionalization found on many campuses. The ability to be at ease in various situations does not blight the intellect, indeed, it complements it.

Ellen Messerer,
Cottey graduate of '66, 1967

Dr. Jon Hondrum, 1969
The Cottey experience is a commitment to self realization, a commitment to making the young woman aware of her essential natures, and how each can contribute to the totality of her being, how each can widen and deepen her vision of herself and the world surrounding her, and how each will in turn affect and contribute to the mystique of her own identity – her particular dimension of personality.

Dr. Jon Hondrum,
Cottey President, 1969

Within the span of their lifetimes American women will successively be students, careerists, homemakers; as they move through the college years, as a rule, they become less career-oriented than at the time of initial enrollment; but this merely indicates postponement of career or scholarly ambitions rather than abandonment, because of more immediate personal concerns and interest in marriage.... [M]any college-educated women will assume or resume careers in professional life after their family responsibilities have become minimized. It might well be said that the opportunities available to women for personal as well as professional fulfillment are greater now than ever before.

If their life-styles are becoming richer and more varied, then young women on the threshold of maturity need to be made more aware that their aspirations, despite cultural conditioning to the contrary, can now be more easily met and realized. And heretofore as its special province of total concern and commitment, these particular needs of women have been better understood and better met by the women’s college.

Dr. Jon Hondrum,
Cottey President, 1970

English comp. class, 1976
As a two-year college for women, Cottey is not content to provide just another educational experience but rather one that prepares and involves the young woman in decision-making roles, enables her to explore career options and makes the most of her intelligence and confidence in fulfilling her own goals and in her contributions to society.

Dr. Earl Tinsley,
Cottey Dean, 1975



Cottey students,

If education is to prepare young women for the future, then it must assist them in acquiring the coping behavior to assess the opportunities, crises, and even perils of the real world. To release the potential of young women, independency in learning and decision-making must be encouraged. The capable and creative person, and that includes the young woman, is known for what she does and not for what she remembers. If we accept this idea then some experience must be included in the college program for developing expertise and encouraging independency on the part of our young women. An environment which is supportive of young women seeking careers, not jobs, lends to the establishment of a common bond between women that sensitizes them to ways they can help other women gain the confidence to pursue a variety of roles and careers.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1974

Many of Cottey’s young women graduates will continue their liberal arts emphasis in four-year institutions. Others will begin as third year students to move into areas of specialization. A very few will go directly into marriage or into the job market. Whatever choice the student makes, the liberal arts foundation will provide a solid base for her, to be called upon for daily living, for future educational experiences, and for career adjustments or changes.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1980

P.E.O.s, from the time of the seven founders to the present, appreciate Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard’s purpose for Cottey and its corollary: to provide an outstanding liberal arts education for young women in their first two years of college, and to encourage young women to develop independence, self-reliance, leadership skills, and the art of working effectively with other women.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1980

Because 65 per cent of the women’s colleges have women presidents and women represent about 55 per cent of the faculty, their students can observe first-hand women in positions of leadership. The qualities and skills admired in women in homes and businesses are presented on another level. Teachers or administrators may not wish to be role models, but they are in a position to help young women considering professional careers.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1981

Dr. Evelyn Milam, 1977
She [Virginia Alice Cottey Stockard] believed that young women should receive the same education offered to young men. No women’s college (and that includes Cottey) has any right to exist if its academic program is inferior.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1981

Chem lab, 1981
Women’s colleges are more likely to take education of women seriously than are coeducational colleges. A person teaching at a women’s college cannot downgrade women students and maintain academic excellence. Young women are not transformed into better homemakers or professional women by professors who feel that women are incapable of handling demanding courses in mathematics, science and humanities.

Dr. Evelyn Milam,
Cottey President, 1981


Dr. Helen Washburn, 1994
I believe there is a renewed call for science education among our undergraduate population. In particular, I believe we will see more calls for women to pursue careers in the sciences to help our country remain competitive with the technologically changing world. As such, women’s colleges, and Cottey in particular, have been ahead of the curve in educating women in the sciences.

Dr. Helen Washburn,
Cottey President, 1992

There is clearly a crucial role for women's colleges for the future. There is really no reason to continue to debate the effectiveness and relevance of women's education. Our role is, rather, to embrace the continuing needs for educational opportunities for girls and women throughout our nation and our world.

Dr. Judy Rogers,
Cottey President, 2009

Dr. Judy Rogers, 2005
Our experience assures us that many women at women's colleges develop strong self-images and self-confidence, enabling them to communicate their interests and passions. They often find the direction for their lives and develop the thinking skills and analytical skills necessary to succeed. At Cottey, we describe this as "finding a voice."

Dr. Judy Rogers,
Cottey President, 2009

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