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Below is a list of notable achievements, trailblazers and successes. Over the past 125 years, there have been countless incredible women and accomplishments at The Capstone, and we want to honor as many of those as possible throughout this year. If there is a person or date you believe should be highlighted on this list, please fill out this form so we can promptly review and make necessary additions.
The first women students, Anna Adams and Bessie Parker, enrolled for the fall semester at the University. This was due in large part to the successful lobbying of the UA board of trustees by Julia S. Tutwiler. Tutwiler, then president of the Livingston Normal College for Girls, was a lifelong advocate of the right of women to be self-supporting members of society.
Installed March 12, 1904, the Zeta Chapter of Kappa Delta at the University of Alabama was the first women’s sorority on the UA campus and the first women’s sorority in the state of Alabama. Zeta Chapter is Kappa Delta’s oldest chapter to have been active continuously since its chartering.
Maud Mclure Kelly became a stenographer in her father's law office after the family moved to Birmingham and began to study law. Her score on the entrance exam to the University of Alabama law school allowed her to enter as a senior in 1907. She graduated with highest honors a year later and, after a change in wording in the Code of Alabama, she became the first woman to practice law in Alabama.
An all women's Student Government Association was created to represent the voice of female students at the Capstone.
Libby Anderson Cater was elected SGA vice president in early 1943, but upon the resignation of the acting president, became the first female SGA president at The University of Alabama. Throughout her notable career, she has thrown open doors for women in America.
UA's first African-American student, Autherine J. Lucy, was admitted. She was expelled three days later "for her own safety" in response to threats from a mob. In 1992 Autherine Lucy Foster graduated from the University with a master's degree in education. The same day, her daughter, Grazia Foster, graduated with a bachelor's degree in corporate finance.
The University of Alabama’s official student ambassadors, the Capstone Men and Women, were originally created as the Crimson Girls, an all female student organization.
The first sustained enrollment of African-American students at UA — Vivian J. Malone and James A. Hood — was achieved. Vivian Malone graduated in 1965. James Hood returned to campus in 1995 and received a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies in 1997.
The BSU was founded in April of 1968 by Dianne Kirskey and other courageous and enthusiastic black students. Originally, it was known as the Afro American Association, or Triple A. Many minority organizations, including Black fraternities and sororities can trace their roots back to that of BSU. Since its founding, BSU has been at the forefront of many diversity related issues here on campus and has had support from various faculty and administrators. Kirskey later went on to be the first African American on the UA Homecoming Court.
On, March 23, 1974, The University of Alabama witnessed the start of the first black sorority on its campus. On that day, the Lambda Zeta (LZ) Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. emerged. One month later, the Theta Sigma chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. was chartered, and in May The Iota Eta Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. was chartered.
The UA women's gymnastics team won its first (of 6) national championships led by Coach Sarah Patterson.
A graduate of The University of Alabama with a bachelor of science from the College of Commerce and Business Administration, Lynn Yeldell majored in finance, minored in economics and was the first female to be elected president of the Student Government Association.
Lena Thomas Austin, a Huntsville native, was the first woman to portray Big Al, the elephant mascot for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide. She portrayed Big Al from 1992-94. She graduated in 1994.
Started in 1993, The WGRC provides free, confidential, and voluntary counseling and advocacy services to members of The University of Alabama community who are victims/survivors of interpersonal violence. Services are also provided to family and friends who have been impacted by the abuse, to Shelton State students, and to anyone who is victimized on The University of Alabama campus.
Additionally, the Women and Gender Resource Center offers a variety of programming designed to promote social justice and address gender disparities in academia, government, and the workforce. These programs include year long efforts such as the Student Leadership Council, gender specific mentoring programs, and Momentum: Women’s Dissertation and Thesis Support Group, as well as one-time programs like Start Smart Pay Negotiation Workshops and Elect Her.
Rhoads Stadium, home of the UA Softball team, opened on the northeast corner of campus. Named for John and Ann Rhoads, the stadium seats nearly 4,000 people.
UA student Kana Ellis of Northport, Ala., selected as the first recipient of the Honors Student of the Year Award by the National Collegiate Honors Council (NCHC)
The Women's Wheelchair Basketball team wins its first national championship. The Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team would go on to win championships in 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2017. The co-ed Wheelchair Tennis team, which featured women players, has also won championships in 2013, 2015, and 2017.
Dr. Judy Bonner became the first woman president of the Capstone.
Karen Phifer Brooks became the first woman to serve as President Pro Tem of the Board of Trustees.
Walker Jones became the first woman to serve as the President of the UA Presidents Cabinet.