Women of 1970: Tech’s Trailblazers

As part of the first class of women entering Virginia Tech, Nancy Hutchinson Webb, Noel Marts, Sue Ellen Kimmy, Beverly Quinn, Donna Price, Marilyn Vanhoozer, and Kay Meehan were pioneers on a transforming campus. Prior to the acceptance of civilian women on Tech’s campus, women, much like these seven friends, attended the women’s college at Radford. As the country and the campus faced great changes in the late 1960’s, women joined the flock of students crossing the Drillfield on their way to class.

“We came here, and I took one look at the place. I remember standing on the steps of Burruss Hall and going, you know, this is the most amazing place I’ve ever seen. “Donna Price

These first ladies of Virginia Tech became subject to a strict set of rules that would govern their tenure as students. Forbidden to wear slacks, these six women found themselves cheering on the Hokies in skirts and heels during a Blacksburg winter storm. Despite the disproportionate amount of women on campus, Nancy, Noel, Sue Ellen, Beverly, Donna, Marilyn, and Kay fell in love with their new Blacksburg home. Being a minority on campus didn’t cripple these women; rather, Virginia Tech empowered them to become better students, better leaders, and better Hokies.

“I just felt like when I came to this University I was always a determined young lady, but when I got here I felt like the people I met, the women that came here were sort of, I want to say even trailblazers.”Sue Ellen Kimmy

Attending Virginia Tech in a time of an American social revolution, the women of 1970 became politically involved on campus and watched the dynamic of their generation change.

“I think part of the change wasn’t just us being a large cohort of women coming to the University at one time, but also the timing when we were here. So it was from ’66 to ’70. It was Kent State, Vietnam, and there was just a lot going on in the world.”Marilyn Vanhoozer

These women were ambassadors to a new Virginia Tech; Nancy, Noel, Sue Ellen, Beverly, Donna, Marilyn, and Kay blazed the trail for the thousands of women to follow. According to the 2016-2017 On-Campus Enrollment Profile, 13,345 of the 31,090 undergraduate students, graduate students, and professionals are women.

The women of 1970 were a part of the redefinition of the Hokie Nation. And for that, we are forever grateful.

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About this Story

Date Recorded: October 9, 2015

Interviewer: David Cline

Date Posted: October 30, 2016

Editor: Shannon Larkin & Jessie Rogers

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