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University President Judith Rodin's Inauguration in October 1994 marked the appointment of the first female leader of an Ivy League university. [Stephen Waxman/DP File Photo]

In 1749, Benjamin Franklin planted the seed for the creation of what would be the nation's first secular university in Philadelphia.

In 1755, the College was chartered.

In 1765, the School of Medicine was chartered.

In 1850, the Law School was chartered.

But none of these schools welcomed women, and it would be around 200 years before the University would become totally coeducational.

The doors of academia would begin to creak open with the establishment of all-women's colleges Smith and Wellesley in 1875. But popular opinion still worked against the education of women, making the journey to coeducational classrooms at Penn a long one.

In 1876, it took two pioneering women -- Gertrude Klein Peirce and Anna Lockhart Flanigen -- to break into the completely male University world by enrolling as special students of the Department of Chemistry in the Towne Scientific School.

Two years later, after the trustees had resolved to allow women to receive certificates at the completion of their studies, these first female students completed their collegiate courses and were honored at commencement with certificates of proficiency in science -- the first Penn women to do so.

The end of the 1880s, a decade of women's growing involvement in Penn's academic community, was met with protest by the all-male College senior class. The men organized a protest and presented a petition, signed by virtually the entire class, to the University Board of Trustees that voiced their dissatisfaction with allowing women in the classroom.

In spite of the demonstration, in 1889, the trustees decided to accept an offer by Joseph M. Bennett to endow a college specifically for women.

Penn did not seem to be moving forward with a plan to integrate women at the onset of the 20th century, while it is estimated that nationally 19 percent of undergraduate degrees were being granted to women.

The Trustees denied a proposal to establish courses of study for women that would lead to an undergraduate degree in arts and sciences. The vision would not be realized until 1934, when nine women were the first to graduate with Bachelors of Arts degrees in the newly established College of Liberal Arts for Women.

Fifty years after the first women matriculated at Penn, in 1926, a total of 4,739 women were enrolled in 17 programs, with 2,000 of those students enrolled in courses of study that would lead to degrees.

But most females at Penn were still part-time students, were not welcomed on the playing fields, in the men's extracurricular clubs, or at the popular hangout, Houston Hall.

During the 1960s and '70s, women's rights took the national center stage and carried over to impact women's lives at Penn and its Ivy sisters. Radcliffe College undergraduates received official Harvard University diplomas starting in 1963, though women would not come under the auspices of Harvard College until 1999. Yale College opened to women in 1970.

These two decades saw the legalization of birth control pills, the publication of Betty Friedan's groundbreaking book The Feminine Mystique and the founding of the National Organization for Women.

In the nascent stages of the affirmative action movement, English Professor Phyllis Rackin brought a lawsuit in 1973 against the University alleging discrimination in promotion practices. Settled two years later out of court, the University agreed to promote her to the position of tenured professor in English and General Honors.

The decision to do so would pave the way for more equitable hiring practices in the University. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 had already prohibited discrimination against women in the workplace.

Around this time, the present-day College of Arts and Sciences was formed with the incorporation of the College of Liberal Arts for Women, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, the College of Arts and Sciences (for men) and four social science departments formerly part of the Wharton School.

And in 1976, women were finally totally integrated into all sectors of the University. Women were now faculty and students in all of the University's 13 schools.

Along with the 100 year battle to gain full admission and acceptance at the University, female students struggled to carve a niche for themselves outside of the classroom -- in the dormitories, on the playing fields, and in student organizations.

Though women had been attending classes as special students at the University since the mid 1870s, it was not until 1890 that the first organization that welcomed women was established on Penn's campus -- Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority.

The late 1800s also marked the establishment of the first on-campus residences for women when Joseph Bennett gave the University two four-story houses at 3448 and 3450 Walnut St., today's Hill House. Nationally, around one fifth of resident university and college students were women.

1913 marked the completion of the women's first yearbook, "The Record." Just two years later, the women at Penn had organized a student government -- the women's Undergraduate Association -- and had formed at least two clubs.

But while Houston Hall provided a place for male students to gather around the fire on a cold night, women had no place to call their own.

In 1921, the first clubhouse for women, called the "Bennett Club" was established. That same year, Margaret Katherine Majer was appointed instructor in physical education for women. She is recognized as the founder of women's athletics at Penn.

Wanting their voices to be heard and their activities covered, the Women's Student Government began publication of The Bennett News in 1924. Forty-five years would elapse from the start of The Bennett News until the first woman would be welcomed onto the staff of the then all-male University newspaper, The Daily Pennsylvanian.

The current Bennett Hall was opened on campus in 1925, and the next year the University's undergraduate women held their own Ivy Day, during which they placed the first of many stones on what had become the hub for women at Penn.

Women first became part of Penn's community not as students, but as administrators.

Around 1884 Charlotte Marie Hugo was appointed Superintendent of Nurses and Directress of the Nurses Training School, and is remembered as the first female academic administrator and chief administrative officer in the University.

But not until 1943 would a woman ascend the ranks to become a dean. Althea Kratz Hottel was appointed Dean of Women, and became the first female dean in Penn's history.

Women were taking over leadership in high places beginning in the 1960s, and spurring on a trend that would trickle down to the University level. Indira Ghandi, Golda Meir, and Margaret Thatcher would distinguish themselves as prime ministers of world super-powers, and pave the way for women to assume leadership positions on all levels.

The 1980s brought a flood of women into top level University administrative positions. But it was in the last decade of the 20th century saw the selection of the first female president and chief executive of the University -- Judith Seitz Rodin, Penn's first female president, its first alumnae president and the first female president of any Ivy League institution.

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