Starkle Dream Up. Stephens College

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Admissions Policy Development: A Timeline 

Consistent with our commitment to transparency and inclusion, Stephens College has established this web page to share information regarding our status as we evaluate current admissions and enrollment policies. 

Most recent developments are listed first.



Stephens alumnae and alumni, faculty and staff, and current students were surveyed. Opportunities were given to provide anonymous feedback. Survey results were shared with the Board. 


The College hosts two additional informational and listening sessions, one for alumnae and alumni and one for College staff. Public comments are recorded for sharing with the Board of Trustees.


The College hosts an informational and listening session for students. All students are invited to participate and public comments are recorded for sharing with the Board of Trustees.


At the regular Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Dianne Lynch presents a summary of the wide range of policies in place at women’s colleges across the country. The College’s Title IX Coordinator will meet with faculty in March and with students in April to discuss the issue. 


Survey results are being compiled and will be reported to the Women’s College Coalition members who participated in the survey, and to the Board of Trustees at its February meeting. A survey of Stephens College students is being developed.



A survey is distributed to all institutional members of the 38 Women’s College Coalition. 


The Women’s College Coalition agrees to participate in a survey designed to collect information about the status, process, policies and outcomes of women’s colleges across the country as they have addressed their policies around admissions and enrollment.

The College, working with the Student Government Association, schedules a listening session with local members of the Board of Trustees to allow students to meet with them individually to express their thoughts, questions and opinions. Despite significant advertising efforts, it has to be cancelled for lack of response. The College makes plans to reschedule it during the spring semester.


Students presented their perspectives at the October Board of Trustees meeting. 


The College requests a 2017 legal memo from its attorney, summarizing the current interpretation of Title IX as it relates to gender. That summary will be presented to the Board of Trustees at its October (2017) meeting.

The President sends an email to all employees and students, describing the College’s action steps and its plans for moving forward. A small group of activist students use social media to express their anger and dissatisfaction with the pace and progress of the College’s deliberations.

Community response, from on and off campus, confirms that — while the subject generates significant emotion on all sides — there is no consensus on the question of the College’s admissions policy.

The President reconfirms that the College is engaged in a deliberative, inclusive and necessary period of investigation and review as it considers whether to revise its 184-year mission as a single-sex institution. 


The College introduces a new data interface that allows students to identify a preferred name and pronoun, to be used on all college documents except the transcript.

Student advocates are invited to speak to the Faculty Assembly, the Senior Staff (management team) and the student body to expand awareness and understanding. 

In February, the Justice Department returns to a strict interpretation of the language of Title IX.  


Court decisions are inconsistent regarding the rights of transgender students. In light of those inconsistencies, and on the advice of our attorneys, the College defers continued discussion about its policies until after the November election.

The task force invites the college’s legal counsel to campus to help the community understand the legal issues related to transgender admissions policies.

Readings related to all sides of admissions policy and enrollment issues are shared with all faculty members through an internal web site (Canvas).


The Gender Diversity and Inclusion task force sponsors four “Half the Sky” days, all-day, all-campus programs designed to explore what it means to be a woman in 2016, and what it therefore means to be a women’s college. These programs are intentionally inclusive and diverse in the information and perspectives they present.


The Obama administration issues new administrative rules/guidance, defining “gender identity” as an individual’s “internal sense of being male or female,” and defining a transgender person as someone “with a gender identity that is different from the sex assigned them at birth.” It asserts that transgender students are protected from gender discrimination under Title IX (backed by a 2016 statement by the Justice Dept.).

These interpretations lead women’s colleges to begin exploring the legal issues related to the admittance (or not) of transgender students. In August, Mills College in California is the first women’s college to announce an admissions policy that allows the admission of trans women. Over the next year, a small number of women’s colleges — including Smith, Holyoke, Barnard, Wellesley and Bryn Mawr — adopt policies. Those policies adopt a variety of approaches and practices, with each institution making an individual decision about how best to serve its own community.

At Stephens, the President establishes a Task Force on Gender Diversity and Inclusion, with representatives of faculty, both undergraduate and graduate; staff from across all levels and disciplines; student leaders who represented a cross segment of our student body; and several members of our Board of Trustees. The task force dedicates several months to its own education, and invites outside experts in the legal, social, learning and community issues related to the admission and educational success of transgender students.


The U.S. Department of Education begins to consider whether Title IX provides protections against gender discrimination for transgender students.  

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