On June 23, 1972, President Richard Nixon signed into law Title IX of the Education Act Amendments. Hobart and William Smith Colleges will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the ground-breaking legislation throughout the upcoming fall semester.
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
– Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Sec. 901. [20 U.S.C. 1681] (a)
Those 37 words opened up a world of opportunities for girls and women in education. According to a recent study by R. Vivian Acosta, Ph.D., and Linda Jean Carpenter, Ph.D., in 1970 there were only about 16,000 female intercollegiate student-athletes. Today that number has grown to 200,000. Similarly, in 1971 fewer than 300,000 girls participated in high school sports. Forty years later, more than 3.1 million girls play interscholastic sports.
Most commonly associated with athletics, Title IX actually applies to all areas of education. As such, Hobart and William Smith have planned a campus-wide celebration with the President’s Office, the Provost’s Office, the William Smith Dean’s Office, the Women’s Studies Department, the Centennial Center for Leadership, and the William Smith Athletics Department collaborating on initiatives.
“We are pleased to join other campus colleagues around the country in celebrating the 40th anniversary of Title IX,” William Smith Director of Athletics Deb Steward said. “The legislation has provided opportunities for girls and has helped women become leaders in business, science and many other fields. We are proud of our impact on girls and women in athletics and look forward to celebrating our history and future.”
The central event of the celebration will be the William Smith Heron Society’s Hall of Honor Class of 2012 induction ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 22. The inductees are Beth Flannery Rosenthal ’73 (archery/basketball/swimming), Jane Sala McWilliams ’75 (field hockey/tennis), Kristen Jensen ’82 (basketball/soccer), Courtney Hutchinson Hundley ’92 (field hockey/lacrosse), Dr. Jaime Van Fossan Kenny ’98 (swimming), Rebecca Gutwin Coons ’06 (rowing), and Susan Bassett (coach/administrator). William Smith’s 1997 field hockey team, which won the NCAA Division III National Championship, will be recognized as a Team of Distinction during the ceremony as well.
Also that weekend, William Smith Athletics will host a pair of alumnae games. Former field hockey players will square off on McCooey Field at 10 a.m. on Sept. 22, with lacrosse alumnae taking on current Herons at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23 on Boswell Field.
On Sunday, Oct. 14, the Colleges will host a 6-on-6 basketball tournament in Bristol Field House. An outdated version of girls’ basketball, many scholastic programs played Dr. James Naismith’s game with three forwards and three guards. The forwards remained in the front court to score, while the guards remained in the backcourt to play defense. Guards and forwards were not allowed to cross midcourt and oftentimes rules prevented players from dribbling more than twice. The sport was last endorsed by a state high school association in 1995 in Oklahoma.
Additionally, a featured speaker, film series, and panel/classroom discussions on Title IX are in the planning stages.
William Smith College is a leader in creating educational opportunities for women. Founded in 1908, the College competed in its first intercollegiate contest (a basketball game) just two years later and began awarding varsity letters in 1935.
In 1957, former William Smith Athletics Director Marcia Winn L.H.D. ’70 was a central figure in the formation of the Central New York Varsity Sports Organization, a precursor to the New York State Association of Intercollegiate Athletics for Women.
Informally known as the “Smithies” until 1981, William Smith teams are now in their fourth decade under the official nickname the Herons. The following year, swimmers Anne Richardson ’82 and Vibeke Hopkinson ’83 became the school’s first All-Americans. Hopkinson is also the first Heron to win a NCAA Division III National Championship, capturing the 1983 50 and 100-yard backstroke.
Since then, William Smith has received more than 100 invitations to NCAA or other postseason tournaments, capturing six team national championships (three field hockey, two sailing, one soccer). Hundreds of Herons have earned conference, regional, and national recognition for their achievements in competition and in the classroom.