Deborah Bacon served as the Dean of Women from 1950 to 1961. She enforced in loco parentis with an iron fist, believing women needed strict rules to govern their school lives. Many students thought the Office of the Dean of Women was stuck in a bygone era.
Students described their relationship with the office of the Dean of Women as "cold and strained."1 Students who wanted more control over the rules and regulations were often frustraited by her actions and felt as though she didn't take their contributions seriously. Women could get in trouble with the Dean of Women for offenses that ranged from intoxication to simply being caught kissing in a public place.
In 1960, Tom Hayden, the Editor and Chief of the Michigan Daily, and other reporters began collecting reports from students who testified to instances of discrimination by Dean Bacon and her staff. Many made reports of phone calls home to the parents of white women students discovered to be dating or spending significant time with black male students.2 They took this information to the Board of Regents and Dean Bacon resigned in 1961.
Bacon remained at the University for eight more years in her position as an assistant professor in the English Department. She was the first Dean of Women since Dr. Mosher to also teach academic courses at the University. She was the last official Dean of Women.
1. Susan Lowy, February 4, 1961, Dean of Women, Deborah Bacon, UM Housing Division, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.
2. Ann Tarnower, February 14, 1961, Dean of Women, Deborah Bacon, UM Housing Division, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.