Transcription of letter from Alice Randall to Louise Coburn, 5/28/1900

446 Elm St.
New Haven Conn.,

May 28, 1900.

My dear Miss Coburn:
I had been thinking of
writing to you when your
letter came to hand
yesterday. I was very glad
to receive it, for I think
that as the two representatives
of the alumnae on the
Board of Conference we ought
to understand each other’s
attitude as fully as possible.

I regret very much that
we cannot have a face-to-
face talk before Commence-
ment and that it is
going to be impossible for

me to attend the meeting
of the Board or be in
Waterville at all at that
time. But I will do the
next best thing and make thru letters
what suggestions I have to
offer, hoping that I may
receive an answer from
you telling me of your
point of view in regard to
the matters touched upon.

In the first place, I under-
stand that the immediate
occasion for the appointment
of this committee of ours was
the petition presented to
the Trustees by the Alumnae
last Commencement. This
is clear, I believe, from the
report of the meeting now before
me.

I think, then, that as
representatives of the Alumnae,
we are expected to further
the requests there made,
at least those that have
not been met. You remember
that those were three in
number: 1st That the
Dean might also be upon
the teaching force. 2nd That
a new dormitory for the
women might be speedily
erected _or as soon as
practicable. 3rd That
the Alumnae might elected
one of their own member to
the Board of Trustees.

Now, as I understand it
from Miss Parmenter’s correspondence
with Pres. Butler, he considers

that No. 1 has been answered
satisfactorily by the fact that
Miss Mathews does some
teaching in the college. On
that point, then, it is probably
best to say no more.
As regards the second point,
I do think that you and
I should bring this before the
meeting of the Board; for
it is a matter in regard
to which there is a very
strong feeling on the part of
some of the Alumnae. You
will notice by consulting the
Report again that Dr. Butler
seems to have arrested all
further interest and effort in this matter
on the part of the Alumnae
by making an vague announc-
ment of a vague provision

for a building in somebody’s
will, we not knowing whether
it will materialize for many
years to come. Now I think
the body we represent feel
that a new dormitory is
the most urgent need of
the “Women’s Division” today,
and that until recently it
looked as if one would be
put up very soon. To this
end the agitation was begun
in 1893, and to this end
the Alumnae contributed, as
they could, a sum amounting
to four thousand or thereabouts.
Would it not be best, then
for us to tell the Board
of the crippling influence
the indefinite postponement
of such a building is going
to have upon the prosperity

of the Women’s College and
also to urge them to the
trustees to announce to
the Alumnae to what purpose
the money they contributed for
a definite end is to be
devoted, if the building of
the dormitory is no longer
in their immediate plans?
This would seem reasonable
to me.

As to the last point in
the petition – it may do no
good to press the matter;
but as yet we have received
no answer whatever to our
request. This, of course, is
something the Trustees cannot
evade and we have been
given to understand that
some sort of an answer will

be made this Commencement.
I do not know whether you
approved of this request for
representation, but to me
it seemed most reasonable.
I should, therefore, be in
favor of our urging it upon
the Board at its meeting,
in fact, to me it would seem
the most important thing
we have to do.

I have the feeling that
the present is an important
time. Whether rightly or wrongly,
some of our most valuable
Alumnae are being alienated
from the College. There seem
to be various reasons for
this. Some of them feel
that the Administration and
Trustees do not wish the

Women’s Division to be too
prosperous _ that it should be
kept in a subordinate position.
This is indicated, they think,
by the failure to push the
scheme for the new dormitory
and in other ways. Then, too,
among a portion of the more
thoughtful and experienced ones
who have come in contact
with other institutions, either
through teaching, study, or
observations, there is a very
decided conviction that the
standards of teaching and
scholarship at Colby are
inadequate in certain respects.
They cite the giving over of
such an important department
as the English, even for one
year, into the hands of a
man who graduated only last

year, and who, while he
may be smart, has no
special training for such
work as that. If Colby were
not so far to one side and
was brought more into com-
parison with other New
England colleges she would
have to raise her standards
for admission and employ a
larger number of trained men on her
faculty. As it is, she sets
her own standards very largely
and they are very inadequate.
Now, as a result of this feeling
on the part of some of the
alumnae, girls are being
kept from going to Colby –
desirable girls – I have known
more than one of our
alumnae teachers to say that

she would not and does not
point her girls to Colby. This
seems a sad state of affairs
to me when Alumnae lose
their loyalty for Alma Mater
and feel even that their
interest is not wanted and
can do no good. Can we
do anything toward bettering
matters? If so, what? We
can, at least, let the Trustees
know the feeling some of us
have on these matters – a
feeling promoted, not by in-
difference to, but, in the
first place, by interest in,
the college.

I have written very freely and
at length upon these matters,
which to me seem of vital

importance; and I should be
pleased if you would return
the compliment and let me
know how you feel upon
the various points. We should,
then, be better able to work
together toward definite ends.
May I expect an early reply?
I should then be ready to write
Pres. Butler of my enforced
absence from the meeting and
make my suggestions in
absentia.

I have been pleased to hear
of Miss Mathews success as
Dean.

I hope Sigma may be able
to carry out her plans for
expansion this time.

Yours very sincerely
Alice S. Randall [over]

P.S. Do you understand this Conference Board to be
a permanent affair or appointed simply to meet
the petition from the Alumnae?

Don’t you think that a good president of the
Alumnae Ass’n ought to be continued by re-election in office
more than one year? It seems to me that,
while it is a good thing to have the yearly elections
for the office as a safeguard against an inefficient
president, yet in the case of such a one as
Miss Parmenter the term of office should be
extended in order that she may continue her
good work. She has been so tireless and efficient
this past year, and, since she has given up
teaching and is to be Waterville next year, her
efficiency will be even further increased. I hope
she will be reelected. A.S.R.