If you've driven past or walked through Marquette at all the past several months, you've undoubtedly noticed several banners with words prominently proclaiming "100 Years of Women at Marquette." Marquette has been celebrating, and will continue to celebrate throughout the end of the 2009/10 school year, the 100th Anniversary of women attending Marquette University.
It may seem ridiculous to think about a university celebrating something so commonplace, but Marquette was actually the first Catholic institution in the world to do so. Marquette opened its doors in 1881 and in 1909, admitted women into the undergraduate program.
It was a decision that at the time was met with heavy resistance from the Society of Jesus in Rome, and it took three years for the Jesuits to catch up and make the integration universal.
Needless to say, it's an achievement worth celebrating, but it has gone way beyond banners and signs. Marquette is in the process of a massive public relations effort that has fully engaged the Marquette and Milwaukee communities
On the surface, a few banners and signs have always been the minimum for campus awareness but in this case, there have been year-round developments all over campus that touch on the theme.
Marquette will be welcoming Washington, D.C. journalist Gwen Ifill tomorrow night (Feb. 4) for a discussion on the reality of the D.C. political game. Ifill was a moderator in one of the 2008 Presidential debates.
Through their "Oral History Project," Marquette is hoping to get recollections and memories of female students from the students themselves. This crowd-sourced effort will generate a lot of great stories and even better publicity.
Finally, Marquette even named a new dorm after the former Marquette president who introduced coeducation, Rev. James J. McCabe, S.J. His efforts in acting ahead of his time have been honored repeatedly throughout the school year.
All in all, it's been a herculean effort to truly honor an accomplishment that deserves recognition. Through non-traditional methods and by immersing the school in the history and accomplishment that coeducation brings, Marquette has hit a home run in PR 101.