On February 28, 1928, the Virginia General Assembly passed an act creating a committee to investigate the establishment of a liberal arts college for white women in connection with the University of Virginia.
The “Halsey” Commission, headed by Don P. Halsey, produced a report in 1930 that outlined a plan for a women’s college affiliated with U.Va. The report proposed several locations for the institution, including Harrisonburg, Lynchburg, or any city at least thirty miles from Charlottesville. The Commission believed that the women’s college “should not be located at the University of Virginia or so near there so as to change its fundamental character.”
In 1931, the U.Va. Board of Visitors endorsed the Commission’s recommendation to convert the Fredericksburg State Teachers College into a liberal arts college for women affiliated with U.Va. However, the governor vetoed the bill the following year because of a concern that funds would be diverted from the University to pay for the new college.
After several years in limbo, the issue of a co-ordinate college resurfaced in the early 1940s. Finally, in February 1944, the General Assembly passed the Co-ordinate College Bill which authorized the conversion of Mary Washington College into a women’s liberal arts college affiliated with the University of Virginia.
After the bill became effective, University President John Lloyd Newcomb appointed a committee to study the academic programs at Mary Washington and make recommendations for the college’s conversion. The committee produced this document, its final report, and submitted it to Newcomb on May 28, 1945. Roberta Hollingsworth, Dean of Women at U.Va., served on the committee.
The committee recommended that Mary Washington offer a program of arts and sciences comparable to U.Va. Majors in Art, Biology, Drama, Economics, Music, and Sociology should be among those offered, and Physical Education should be a compulsory subject.
The Battlefield, Mary Washington’s yearbook, first
appeared in 1913 when the college was still a normal school
The yearbook documents the rich academic and social life at the women’s college. Mary Washington students participated in a wide variety of extracurricular activities, including the Student Government Association, Young Women’s Christian Association, business societies, a home economics club, dance and theatre productions, science clubs, sports, and religious associations.
In many ways, the University of Virginia’s honor code served as the model for Mary Washington’s. However, while U.Va.’s honor code rested on the notion that only gentlemen had honor, the code at the women’s school, developed in 1946, asserted that “a Mary Washington girl’s word is her bond, and it is expected that she justify the confidence of her fellow students at all times and under all circumstances.”