Now I know you’re reading my title and thinking to yourself, “Well of course not, there’s three others.” But when you really look at it, Wabash may be a lone wolf in America. Before I delve into why I think Wabash is the last all-male college, I should first define what an all-male college is.
First, it has to be a four-year college that offers bachelor’s degrees, and second, it can’t be religiously affiliated. By this criteria, this means that religious trade and vocational schools, such as seminaries and yeshivas, are not considered to be all-male colleges. Since that leaves out a lot of institutions, it’s easier to narrow down who’s left.
Some colleges and universities have male-only and female-only colleges, but are a part of one singular institution. Examples include Richmond University, Yeshiva University and formerly Tulane University. Expanding upon this, some all-male colleges have close ties with an all-female college, often referred to as a sister school, and aren’t under a single institution. Hobart and William Smith Colleges used to be under like that, but are now one institution, while Saint John’s University has a close bond with the College of Saint Benedict, and Morehouse College is a part of the Atlanta University Center Consortium, along with all-female Spelman and co-ed Clark University.
Now after all of that, we have two left; Wabash and Hampden-Sydney. While both of these colleges are considered the only two stand alone all-male colleges, I think that’s a bit misleading when you look into it. Wabash kind-of had an unofficial sister school; Saint Mary’s of the Woods in Terre Haute. It was an all-female college up until 2015 when it went co-ed. Around this time, Hampden-Sydney’s unofficial sister school, all-female Sweet Briar, announced that it was closing down, and even considered transferring their students to Hampden-Sydney. However, the college received enormous financial backing from its alumni, and is still up and running. Even though Sweet Briar is an hour away from Hampden-Sydney, the ties are close enough that they’re considered brother-sister schools, though again, this is unofficial, as neither college has made that relationship official. In addition, Hampden-Sydney is very close to another college in Farmville called Longwood university, a co-ed public university. So in a way, Hampden-Sydney kind-of has its own version of the Atlanta Consortium, with an all-male college, an all-female college, and a co-ed university. Again, to reiterate, none of this is official, partially due to Longwood being a Division I college, and Hampden-Sydney and Sweet Briar both being in the same Division III conference, but with Sweet Briar doing financially well and Longwood not being too far away, Hampden-Sydney may not be a stand alone college anymore.
With the Gentlemen’s Classic happening this weekend, let’s not forget how unique Wabash is, and could be in the future. I think that part of the reason that Wabash is stand-alone is because there isn’t a college with a unique identity close by. There are only two colleges close to Wabash; 30 minutes up north if you hate Bloomington, and 30 minutes down south if you hate yourself. If time isn’t considered a deficit, then maybe Saint Mary’s of the Woods was our unofficial sister school, but again, they’re now co-ed, and close by Indiana State and Rose-Hulman. This question will still be in my mind, as we see more females getting bachelor’s degrees, the debate of gender identity in single-sex education, and the importance of the liberal arts in a STEM dominated world. While this doesn’t affect the traditions or the education here at Wabash, I think that this will affect the identity of Wabash, and that is something to think about