Today in NC State History: Aquinas House hires first female

July 1, 2014
By Chris Saunders

historyIconWith the North Carolina College of Agriculture and Mechanic Arts being founded as a men’s college, it set forth a history ripe with potential firsts for the gender-barrier being broken on-campus in Raleigh for many years.

In 1899, the trustees first started to debate whether to admit female students. Jane S. McKimmon became the first woman inducted into the college’s chapter of Phi Kappa Phi. And later that year, in June, the college first conferred degrees to women. One of those women was Mary E. Yarbrough, the first female graduate to complete all of her graduate coursework at the college.

And it was on this day in 1988, that another historic first for women happened on campus. Aquinas House, NC State’s Catholic Student Center, welcomed its first female staff member as Sister Mary Lynch started as an associate minister.

“I feel that it is important for me to be present, visible and seen,” Lynch said in the Technician. “I am looking forward to whatever opportunities open up for me at NC State.”

One of Lynch’s main goals, she said, was to serve as a role model for young women on campus. She cited that women then comprised 38 percent of the student body and said it was important for them ” to see a woman in a predominantly-male occupational field such as the Catholic ministry.”

Lynch is now director of silent retreats at the University of Notre Dame.

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