Eleanor Sybil Ross, A dean with “visions of what Middlebury should be to her daughters”

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Leading up to the inauguration of Laurie L. Patton as the seventeenth president on Sunday, October 11, 2015, Special Collections & Archives will feature remarkable women from the College’s history in eight temporary exhibits spread across campus. Eleanor Sybil Ross can be found in Sunderland and her own Ross Fireplace Lounge, now through October 5th.

Alumna, English Professor, and Dean of Women, Eleanor Sybil Ross wore many hats at Middlebury College. After graduating in 1895, Ross taught at North Wales Academy in Pennsylvania, Rutland High School in Vermont and Boise High School in Idaho before responding to President Thomas’s urgent need for a Dean of Women with intimate experience at the college.

Letter from Eleanor Sybil Ross to President Thomas
Letter from Eleanor Sybil Ross to President Thomas

In a letter to Ross he writes, “I have wondered if the sensible thing to do [is] to take one of our own graduates, who knows the college and Vermont girls and Vermont homes and Vermont ideals…and work sensibly…for the things Middlebury wants done.” With her own “visions of what Middlebury should be to her daughters” and her drive to “bend every effort in this direction,” Ross returned to Middlebury in 1915 to serve as an Assistant Professor of English and as the Dean of Women for the next 30 years, making her Middlebury’s first alumna administrator. As one of the earliest members appointed by the president to the Advisory Board of the Women’s College, she raised awareness of the problems within and recommended changes necessary for improving women’s education. In 1953 she died in her hometown of Rutland, Vermont.

See what Ross looked like as a student and more here!

Ross in 1932
Ross in 1932

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