Jean Hamilton

Jean Hamilton

Out of all of the Deans of Women, Jean Hamilton served for the least amount of time, from 1922 to 1927. She came into the office with high praise from both former Dean of Women Myra Beach Jordan and the President of the University Marion L. Burton. Burton said that "he felt sure she was the right woman for the position within five minutes of their first interview."1 During her time as Dean she saw that women’s rules were strictly followed, including having high standards for housing. In her first year as Dean, she dismissed two landladies for having “bad moral character.”2 She also took disciplinary actions seriously. The punishment for drinking was suspension and expulsion for intoxication.

Dean Hamilton not only dealt with the students who broke rules, but also with the students who were in charge of creating the rules. The Women’s Judiciary Council was responsible for setting hours, but Dean Hamilton had a strong influence over them. The President of the Women’s League had to ask Dean Hamilton to stop regularly attending their meetings because she believed Hamilton's opinions were "arbitrary, usually expressed in an arbitrary fashion." She said that the student leaders were "swayed unduly by her opinions."3

President Little went to the League Board and took a poll on what members thought of the "Dean of Women, Jean Hamilton, and her ability to solve staff problems in her office, or whether entirely new personnel should be brought in." The slips of paper where members wrote their opinion almost uniformly read: "Clean Sweep."4

Jean Hamilton Clean Sweep

A vote for a "clean sweep" of the Office of the Dean of Women

In 1926, the correspondence among Hamilton, Murfin and Little made it clear that President Little was intent on pushing Hamilton out of her position. Little wrote to Murfin in May of 1926, "Won’t you see Miss H. and advise her to apply for a sabbatical year. I’m willing to have half her salary taken out of mine rather than have her here next fall."5

By mid May, Dean Hamilton agreed to take a sabbatical year and then resign in 1927. After her departure, the position of Dean of Women was not filled until 1930, after Alexander Ruthven took over as President from C.C. Little. Between 1927 and 1930, a committee of three women called the Women’s Advisory Council took the place of the Dean of Women and the Women’s Judiciary Council took over more of the responsibility of self-government, as they had wished to do during Dean Hamilton’s tenure.

“Miss Jean Hamilton resigned as Dean of Women in 1927, because of the very serious illness of her mother in New York City.  Miss Hamilton has been on leave of absence from the University since last June.” - The Michigan Alumnus, 19276

 

 

1. The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 29 (October 12,1922-September 13, 1923), 11.

2. Jean Hamilton, "Housing Conditions at the University of Michigan," February 1926, Clarence Cook Little Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

3. Norma Birkwell to Clarence Cook Little, December 2, 1925, Clarence Cook Little Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

4. "Clean Sweep" Women's League Correspondence, Clarence Cook Little Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

5. Clarence Cook Little to Regent Murfin, May 6, 1926, Clarence Cook Little Papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan.

6. "Dean Hamilton Resigns," The Michigan Alumnus, Volume 33 (October 9, 1926-September 10, 1927), 416.