Alice M. Baldwin is an important figure in Duke University history. She started at Trinity College in 1923 as Dean of Women and the first female full faculty member. The Duke family endowed the University in 1924 and, two years later, Baldwin was named the first dean of the new Woman's College. The Woman's College, housed on East Campus, officially opened in 1930.
Baldwin, who retired in 1947, left a legacy of progress for women at Duke. She worked to protect and enhance women's educational opportunities. She advocated for hiring more female faculty so undergraduate women would have scholarly role models. She insisted that women have their own student government association and be allowed to register for upper level courses offered to men on West Campus.
In the 1930s, she recognized that women were not allowed to hold high-ranking positions in student publications. So, she suggested that the women create their own literary magazine. The women enthusiastically supported the idea, paying for the project with their own money. Two years later, when the men's publication faced extinction because of financial issues, Baldwin negotiated to discontinue the women's literary magazine in exchange for fairer representation for women in student publications.
“Many hours were spent with (Duke president) Dr. Few discussing the organization of the Woman's College,” Baldwin wrote in her memoir. “My chief aims were to have full opportunities for women to share in all academic life; to have the advantage of the University libraries, laboratories, faculty while at the same time giving them the opportunity to develop leadership and college spirit through their own organizations while learning to work with men through membership in some common student organizations and enterprises.”
The Baldwin Scholars program, which helps undergraduate female-identified students establish connections and mentoring relationships with other students, faculty and alumnae, is aptly named after her.