Gildersleeve as Dean — Notes

Preliminary Note on VCG as Dean

36 ½ years in office –February 1911 to June 1947
Enrollments of 500
Graduating classes of 100-120
Endowment under $2 million
Budget of $200,000 [deficit of $33,000]
Physical plant – 4 1/2 acres – 116th St to 120th
Milbank/Brooks already up

Additions during her deanship:
Students Hall (1915; later, Barnard Hall)—the work of George A. Plimpton
Hewitt Dormitory (1927?) – no major gift to underwrite its construction

Largely done by George A. Plimpton until his death in 1936; VCG personally little engaged in fundraising; VCG cultivated no givers of the earlier Anderson, Carpentier, Schiff magnitude
1936 gift of land across Claremont where Interchurch Center now is; returned to Rockefellers in 195x;
50th Anniversary Fund raises $1,000,000 by 1939 to match gifts of Rockefeller GED and others


Curriculum Development
Creation of departments during her deanship:
Anthropology (1924)
Government/Political Science (1924)
Fine Arts/Art History (1924)
Music (1928)
American Studies & Medieval Studies Programs (1939)
No major redirections for curriculum

Faculty Development
Percentage of women on faculty increased, but concentrated in lower ranks with
slow rank and salary advancement; most departments remained chaired by men;
Regularly lost promising male faculty to Columbia or better paying universities

Barnard Trustee Relations
No evidence of any major or persistent conflicts with board or its successive chairs

Columbia Relations
Never publicly challenged/questioned President Butler; loyal supporter on all known fronts;
No evidence that she differed with Columbia’s policy of limiting admission of Jews to the College and
some professional schools;
Successful with CU professional school deans in getting their schools open to women

Public Relations
Successfully secured Barnard a place in the 1920s among the “Seven Sisters,” despite its largely  commuting and public-school-prepared student body;

Her public prominence later in her deanship as a woman engaged in national and
international affairs  generally reflected well on Barnard
Her public prominence as an ant-Zionist may have prompted some supporters of a state
of Israel to be critical of Barnard
Last updated: January 24, 2015
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1 thought on “Gildersleeve as Dean — Notes

  1. It is interesting to read this description of Gildersleeve after reading Lynn D. Gordon’s “Annie Nathan Meyer and Barnard College: Mission and Identity in Women’s Higher Education, 1889-1950”. I would like to read more about her stance on “geographic diversity” and how she sought to build the Barnard/Columbia relationship.

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