“As a Nation, we must join our voices with the chorus of history and push forward with unyielding faith to forge a more equal society for all our daughters and granddaughters — one where a woman’s potential is limited only by the size of her dreams and the power of her imagination.” – President Obama, Women’s History Month Proclamation
With that speech President Obama inaugurated Women’s History Month, a month that highlights the historical contributions of women. In honor of Women’s History Month I wanted to celebrate notable women of the USF community, some who have made history at USF while others made history after they left. All have inspired. The following list is by no means exhaustive nor does it showcase the only accomplishments of these women; it simply features a few of the thousands of women who are inspiring the rest of us to create a more just and equal society.
Anna Bretan, marathon record breaker
According to USF Magazine (Winter 2013) Anna Bretan ‘06 beat the all-time women’s record at the San Francisco Marathon in June 2013 with a 2:42:26 run.
From USF Magazine, Winter 2013.
Helen I. Byrne, early graduate
Helen I. Byrne ’31 studied Law at St. Ignatius College (USF’s former name). The Law program was one of the few that admitted women at the time. Byrne was one of the first women graduates from that program in 1931.
Helen Byrne graduation photo in the Ignatian, 1931. From Gleeson Library’s Digital Collections.
Elizabeth B. Davis, first SOM female dean
In 2014 Elizabeth B. Davis made history by becoming the School of Management’s first female dean.
Elizabeth B. Davis
Frances Anne Dolan, first dean of women
When USF became fully coeducational in 1964 Frances Anne Dolan became the first dean of women. In 1976 Anne Dolan oversaw USF’s first women’s basketball, volleyball, tennis, and softball teams.
Heather Fong, first female Police Chief
Heather Fong ’79 was San Francisco Police Chief from 2004-2009. Fong is the first woman to hold that position.
Heather Fong ’79 is currently the Department of Homeland Security’s Assistant Secretary for State and Local Law Enforcement. Picture is from the DHS website.
Ruth M. Halpin, early graduate
Ruth Halpin ’31 studied Commerce and was one of the first women to graduate from St. Ignatius College in 1931.
Ruth Halpin graduation photo in the Ignatian, 1931. From Gleeson Library’s Digital Collections.
Priscilla Scotlan, first coed class and first Yell Leader
Priscilla Scotlan ’68 was in the first coeducational graduating class in 1968. Scotlan was also USF’s first woman Yell Leader, who encouraged student attendance at games.
Priscilla Scotlan ’68 (top row) was the first woman Yell Leader at USF. Yell Leaders encouraged student attendance at games. Pictured here are other Yell Leaders Pat Marantette, Tim King, Ed Chiosso, Frank Clifford, and Al Rodrigues. From the Don, 1968. From Gleeson Library’s Digital Collections.
Anne W. Shumway, early graduate
Anne W. Shumway ’31, along with Helen I. Byrne (above), studied Law and was among the first female graduates from St. Ignatius College in 1931.
Anne W. Shumway’s graduation photo in the Ignatian, 1931. From Gleeson Library’s Digital Collections.
Jennifer E. Turpin, first female dean, provost, and academic vice president
In 2003 Jennifer E. Turpin became the first female dean in the history of the College of Arts and Sciences. In 2010 she became the first female provost and academic vice president in USF’s history.
Jennifer E. Turpin
Ellen Tully, first female ASUSF officer
Ellen Tully ’58 was Associated Students of USF (ASUSF) secretary 1955-1956. Tully was the first woman to hold that position.
Teresa Win, Computer Scientist
Teresa Win ’85 is a prominent computer scientist, current Trustee, and co-founder of Thor Technology. She entered the male-dominated technology industry early on.
Women’s History Library Resources
Gleeson Library has plenty of resources about women’s history for you to enjoy. Here’s a few to get you started:
We also have books about women and San Francisco:
Atherton, Gertrude. My San Francisco : a wayward biography. Indianapolis ; New York : Bobbs-Merrill, 1946.
Horton, Inge Schaefer. Early women architects of the San Francisco Bay Area : the lives and work of fifty professionals, 1890-1951. Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, 2010.
Hudson, Lynn M. The making of “Mammy Pleasant” : a Black entrepreneur in nineteenth-century San Francisco. Urbana : University of Illinois Press, 2003.
Pointdexter, Lucy D. Exploring collaboration and persistence among college women enrolled in a learning community. [Place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], 2007.
Sewell, Jessica Ellen. Women and the everyday city : public space in San Francisco, 1890-1915. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 2011.
Sparks, Edith. Capital intentions : female proprietors in San Francisco, 1850-1920. Chapel Hill : University of North Carolina Press, .
“Co-Education at USF Turns 50.” USF Magazine, Winter 2015.
Ziajka, Alan. Legacy & promise : 150 years of Jesuit education at the University of San Francisco. San Francisco : University of San Francisco, Association of Jesuit University Presses, 2005.