Gertrude Ella Cornish Milliken, Class of 1901, first woman trustee

In honor of 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, now through October 5th. Gertrude Cornish Milliken can be found outside Rehearsals Cafe in the Mahaney Center for the Arts and in Old Chapel.

Milliken the Trustee, 1948
Milliken the Trustee, 1948

After 34 years on the Advisory Board of the Women’s College at Middlebury College, Gertrude Ella Cornish Milliken understood that women students needed more than advisors recommending change—they deserved a seat at the table. In 1947 she asked President Stratton “to consider the possibility and the appropriateness of appointing one or more women to serve on the Board of Trustees.”

Milliken had dedicated her life to educating women: she founded House-in-the-Pines, a private boarding school for girls, in 1911—just 10 years after her graduation—and had retired as its principal after 33 years. The Board of Trustees responded on June 14, 1947, voting to add women to its membership and in 1948 appointed Milliken as Middlebury’s first woman trustee.

Gertrude_Ella_Cornish_Milliken_Middlebury_College_Trustee
Milliken at her 1901 Commencement

In 1955 her colleagues made her a life member of the board, the first woman to receive the distinction. With Alumnae represented, the Advisory Board was discontinued in June 1949, and Milliken served until her death in 1969.

Notes from a 1948 Women's College Advisory Board meeting, recounting the inclusion of women on the Board of Trustees and the resolution to dissolve the Advisory Board
Notes from a 1948 Women’s College Advisory Board meeting, recounting the inclusion of women on the Board of Trustees and the resolution to dissolve the Advisory Board

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