Wofford College. All you Yankees, heathen and sportscasters need to learn to pronounce it correctly. It’s WAWH-ferd. Not Woof-ferd.
I matriculated there in the fall of 1977 and graduated in May of 1981, having been recruited by my father’s cousin-by-marriage, Dr. Elton Hendricks, then Director of Admissions. Elton is a physicist and a Methodist minister and he went on to a long career as president of Methodist University.
Wofford had been a men’s school since its inception in 1854. The first class of women living on campus entered in the fall of 1976, so I was in an early wave of the invasion of the women. To look at the college now you would never know that it was not always coeducational.
We XX’s were a true minority; truthfully, not welcomed by everyone. That first week all fell uncomfortably silent when “we” walked into the dining hall. You cringed inwardly while walking proudly. Yes, you were afraid the frat boys and jocks would begin to hiss and boo. And yes, fraternities openly discouraged brothers and pledges from dating Wofford women.
Thankfully it didn’t take long before I felt like I was one of the guys. Yes, I was a member of the Association of Wofford Women. We really didn’t, you know, do anything. It seemed the association was mostly for show. We existed. We joined. ‘Cause we could. Solidarity and all.
My son is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. He had looked at Wofford as early as between his freshman and sophomore year of high school. He knew it wasn’t for him, but we filled out an application to Wofford and an ivy-league school more or less for grins (but never hit the final “submit” button to either school). He also considered Presbyterian College, where he would have been a legacy to his grandfather, Jack P. Holmes.
Little did he know that if he had chosen Wofford, he would have been a legacy to me and to his maternal grandmother Shirley Senn Holmes.
Yes, Shirley and her sister Marietta “Mary” Senn Harper attended classes on campus at Wofford during their years as R.N. students at Spartanburg General Hospital’s School of Nursing.
This is not one of my witty, insightful or funny blogs. It is pure history for my son’s benefit and that of my Holmes and Harper cousins who might not know that Shirley and Mary attended classes at Wofford way before it was cool to do so.
I’m re-sharing Wofford historian Phillip Stone’s blog From the Archives for their benefit. It deals with women at Wofford before women really “arrived.” Click on the link and it will open in a new window, so don’t freak.
Also, I’ll tell you that I’ve recently been interviewed for an article in Wofford Today magazine about the early years of co-eds at Wofford. I’ll let you know when it comes out.
Meanwhile intaminatus fulget honoribus. I think.