By the early 1960s, changes in attitudes toward females on campus began to take place.  In 1960, R.P.I. and Russell Sage College established a cooperative program to accommodate Rensselaer's women students.  The coeds would reside at Sage - which had appropriate facilities and support systems - and take classes at the Institute.  The arrangement was not convenient for the young women, but it at least acknowledged the growing need for change. 

An article from the Polytechnic (December 16, 1964) discusses some of the problems that Rensselaer had to solve before it could be promoted as truly coeducational.  The author discusses the social and academic difficulties faced by coeds and actions that the administration could take to alleviate them.  However, he also expresses a prevailing fear that young women might waste an excellent education by rushing into marriage after college, and speculates that this could jeopardize the professional futures of other coeds. 

  Brochure for women students, circa 1960
 
List of ladies rooms on campus from the 1970 Survival Guide   By 1966 Rensselaer cautiously began to promote its coeducational status.  The Burdett Avenue Residence Hall (BAR-H), a "multipurpose dormitory" was constructed with one wing reserved for women.  Women students no longer needed to reside at Russell Sage College or live off campus to get a Rensselaer education.
 
Over the next few years, the Institute began to recruit women through a variety of means.  College catalogs now made reference to the number of women attending RPI.  Special promotional brochures were designed to attract women interested in science and technology.  And staff members were added to address the needs of women students.  By the 1970s these efforts began to have an impact on the number of women who chose to pursue their education at Rensselaer. 
 
Promotional brochure for prospective female students, circa 1970
Milestones
 
1966 Campus housing made available to women students.  
 
1968 Vicki Doff appointed Women's Advisor, combining the roles of housemother, counselor, spokesperson, and administrator.    
 
1971  Cindy Soja appointed Coordinator of Women's Affairs and as such acted as Dean of Women Students.  
 
1973  Air Force ROTC began accepting female applicants; RPI's Carmen Lucci becomes the first woman in the nation to receive a full Air Force ROTC scholarship. 
 
1976 The Gamma Theta Chapter of Phi Sigma Sigma became the first sorority at Rensselaer.  
 
 
 
 
 


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