Site 7: Cavanaugh Hall (CA)
425 University Boulevard

"Cavanaugh Hall Exterior, ca. 1975," UA24-003584,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Women in the School of Liberal Arts

In 1971, the first three buildings of IUPUI's undergraduate campus opened: Cavanaugh Hall, Lecture Hall, and the original University Library (now University College). Since it opened in 1971, Cavanaugh Hall has been home to Indiana University’s School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI. The School of Liberal Arts contains eleven departments and thirteen programs. Through the years, women have played leading roles in the development of liberal arts on campus.

Model of Cavanaugh Hall Complex, ca. 1960s, UA24-002769
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Women of the IUPUI Department of English

In the years leading up to, and immediately following, the formation of IUPUI in 1969, faculty positions for women tended to be limited.  In the 1960's women comprised a mere 6.6 percent of university faculty and only 2.6 percent of full professors nationwide.  In her study of the problems facing academic women, Lilli S. Hornig explained that the disparity existed because "A young man is routinely evaluated in terms of his future promise…but a young woman is not really believed to have a future and is almost invariably evaluated only in terms of past performance." 1 By 1975, however, conditions had begun to improve, with an estimated 22 percent of faculty positions held by women.  Indiana closely followed this trend, as a 1979 study found that women held 21.6 percent of faculty positions. 2

As one might guess, the majority of these academic women held faculty appointments in the humanities: English, Journalism, Language Arts, and Literature. In fact, a 1955 study found that 17 percent of English, Journalism, and Language faculty with doctorates and 27.5 percent of faculty without doctorates were women, compared to a much lower total average of 9.9 percent of all doctoral faculty and 22.0 percent of non-doctoral faculty. 3

Mirroring national trends, outside the School of Nursing, which comprised an estimated one-half of all IUPUI women faculty, the IUPUI department of English contained one of the highest concentrations of female faculty. Many of these women were long-time members of the IU and Purdue extension divisions when the schools merged in 1969. Together, these women worked to establish the new IUPUI Department of English.

Mary Louise Rea

In 1939, Purdue University joined Indiana University in Indianapolis when it began offering its own extension courses in the city. In order to prepare for the coming war, the Federal Government encouraged the development of defense training programs across the country. Purdue University was chosen to facilitate Indiana's defense training, and began offering off-campus technical training throughout the state. At the end of World War II, returning soldiers vastly increased the demand for postsecondary education. The Purdue extension campus found it advantageous to offer regular courses in a variety of scientific and liberal arts fields, and was soon operating a full-service extension center in Indianapolis. 4

Among the early faculty of this new extension campus, originally located at 902 N. Meridian St., was Mary Louise Rea, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois. In her twenty-three years as a member of Purdue's English faculty, before its 1969 merger with Indiana University, Rea became a driving force in establishing Purdue's foothold in Indianapolis, and later, in preparing her department for its merger with Indiana University. Mary Louise Rea witnessed the growth and development of Purdue's extension program from its small facility on Meridian Street to its larger 38th Street campus. In the Purdue extension's early years, the entire faculty pitched in to do whatever necessary to keep the school going. Years later, Rea remembered scrubbing floors with other faculty in order to prepare the building for the fall arrival of students. 5

By 1969, just before the merger took place, Rea was serving as chair of the Purdue extension school's English Department. The new IUPUI Department of English did not need two chairs, and once the merger was completed, Rea lost her position as chair. At IUPUI, Rea taught introductory courses, creative writing, and American Literature until her retirement in 1985. She was a three-time recipient of the Distinguished Service Award of the National League of American Pen Women and even served a term as president of its Indiana Branch. Rea died March 14, 2002. The Department of English presents an annual award, the Mary Louise Rea Short Story Award, in her honor. 6

Rebecca Pitts

Originally a free-lance writer in New York City, who befriended famous writers including Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, and Pearl Buck, Rebecca Pitts came to the Indiana University Extension in 1954. As a professor of English at the extension campus and later at IUPUI, Pitts taught children's literature, the American novel, T.S. Elliot, and graduate level Shakespeare. She was a well-versed teacher and once noted, "Philosophy, theology, metaphysics – and politics, of course… I don't believe it's possible to be a good English teacher unless you have these interests." 7

Once IUPUI opened, Pitts helped start several important programs for students in the English department. In 1973, she partnered with Lawrence Lampert of the department of Philosophy to found Genesis, a student literary magazine. She also founded the department's English Club and the Accolade Honorary Society for women. In her spare time, Pitts was a political activist, who championed the rights of women and the environment. She retired in 1976 and died in October 1983. The Department of English offers two annual awards in her honor, the Rebecca Pitts Poetry and Fiction Award and the Rebecca E. Pitts Scholarship. 8

Margaret Louise Dauner

"Margaret L. Dauner, n.d.," UA24-00624,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

Margaret Louise Dauner had only been a member of the Indiana University Indianapolis faculty for a short time, when, in 1964 she became the assistant chair of the department of English. During her tenure in this position, she oversaw the efforts of the English department to gain the proper accreditation to offer an English major. The department of English became one of the first departments in the School of Liberal Arts to achieve this goal. She also worked with Purdue's English department to offer a three-year program for a master's degree. When the merger of the two schools became imminent, Dauner worked with English faculty at Purdue to establish a cohesive IUPUI department under Indiana University's control. She served a term as acting chairman after the merger took place. 9

Besides working towards the growth and development of the IUPUI Department of English, Dauner wrote over two dozen scholarly articles and reviews. She also wrote a poetry book titled, A Wind in the Heart, Poetry for the Dead and Living. Dauner was a talented violinist, who played with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra from 1931-1937 and later served as publicity director, assistant concertmaster, and board member of the Indianapolis Philharmonic Orchestra during the 1960s and 1970s. Dauner retired from IUPUI in 1977. She died March 24, 2005. 10

Margaret Cook
Developer of First Foreign Language Program on Campus

"Margaret A. Cook, n.d.," UA24-005751,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

An associate professor of French, Margaret Cook’s presence at IU-Indianapolis, and later IUPUI, spanned almost three decades. Cook earned degrees from DePauw University and Middlebury College in Vermont. She also studied at Sarbonne School in Paris. Prior to joining the faculty at the IU-Indianapolis extension center, Cook taught at Butler University from 1943 to 1944 and at Shortridge High School from 1944 to 1945. 11

When Cook arrived at IU’s extension campus in 1946, the extension was just developing coursework in foreign language study. Cook became a major champion of the program’s continued development, taking charge of foreign language instruction and teaching courses in both French and Spanish. She arranged special non-degree language courses geared towards adults planning to travel outside of the United States. In fact, Cook was so influential in the early years of foreign language instruction at Indiana University Indianapolis that the Etcetera publication later hailed her as “virtually the sole planner, coordinator, and developer of foreign language study [on campus] in the 1940s and 1950s. 12

After Indiana University Indianapolis merged with Purdue University Indianapolis, Cook continued to play an active role in foreign language instruction at the new university. She developed an up-to-date foreign language laboratory and planned and developed IUPUI’s French major. She also served a term as acting chair of the Department of Foreign Languages from 1971 to 1972. 13

Cook retired in June 1973 and died in January 1984. In her will, she deeded the university the money necessary to establish the first study abroad scholarship at IUPUI. 14 The Margaret A. Cook foreign study award continues to honor her dedication to the university.

Miriam Langsam
Associate Dean for Student Affairs

"Miriam Langsam, 1984," UA24-007223,
IUPUI Special Collections and Archives

A longtime professor of history and associate dean for Student Affairs in the School of Liberal Arts, Miriam Langsam did much to help establish IUPUI as a competitive university in her forty-year tenure. When she retired in August 2003, former chancellor Gerald Bepko noted, "Her presence has helped to define and create our culture at IUPUI." 15

Born in 1939, Langsam grew up in Brooklyn, NY but left to attend graduate school at the University of Wisconsin – Madison because she wanted a different perspective. Enrolling in 1960, Langsam quickly found that roles for women within Madison's history department were very limited. There were no tenured women or women in tenure track positions in the department. While the field of history was notably dominated by men, the outlook for academic women in general was not quite as bleak nationwide as it was in Madison. By 1969, 34 percent of women faculty in four-year universities obtained tenure-track positions. 16

After completing her coursework, Langsam interviewed at Indiana University Indianapolis. She agreed to take the position because there were fewer classes to teach, better pay, and more urban surroundings than her other offer in Mankato, Minnesota. She began teaching history in the fall of 1964 with the status of lecturer because she had not finished her dissertation. She was later promoted to assistant professor. 17

Circa 1975, Langsam joined faculty members Barbara Jackson of the department of anthropology, Cathy Klein of the English department, and John Barlow, a German professor and later Dean of the School of Liberal Arts, in founding IUPUI's women's studies program. The women's studies program became an important political force for women in the 1970s and 1980s, offering support to female faculty members in departments where women were minorities. Women who chose to affiliate with the women's studies program were appointed a women's studies faculty member to their tenure committee, thus offering them a guaranteed voice of support at review meetings. 18

The women's studies program also hosted lectures, conferences, speakers, and films; offered scholarships; and eventually became an academic program offering a minor. Langsam's favorite activity, however, was one that she dreamt up. For a few years, the program held birthday parties for important historical women. These parties were open to the entire faculty, and greatly helped to build a sense of community among the IUPUI faculty. Overall, Langsam believed that the women's studies program and its activities made great strides towards "converting" Purdue faculty. Many men even joined the women's studies program, consisting of an estimated 1/6 of its membership. Langsam thus concluded, "This was very important for the history of liberal arts…" 19

In 1986, Langsam became associate dean for student affairs in the School of Liberal Arts. In this role, she helped students with their academic problems and increased opportunities available to them at the university. Most notably, she worked to increase the power of the Student Council, helping them gain the power to vote on all allocations of student activity fee money. She also helped create a new body in the student council, the house of organizations. This new body allowed campus clubs to participate in student government. Langsam also served on various committees in the faculty assembly and university faculty council; instituted a campus-wide procedure for changing students' grades; helped establish services for students with disabilities, and founded Alpha Sigma Lambda honorary society for adult part-time students. Over the years, Langsam also served as director of the university's honors program and established a young scholar's program for gifted children in sixth grade and above. 20

Langsam loved serving as associate dean. "I like to solve problems. I like to fix things. And I especially like to fix things for students and the campus," Langsam once said. 21 She did sadly admit, however, that her role as dean often cut into her teaching preparation time. She noted in her oral history interview, "it makes you dissatisfied with yourself because you're not as sharp as you might be, if you didn't have those kinds of distractions." 22

In the end, however, Langsam was satisfied with the knowledge that she had truly left IUPUI a better place than when she arrived. "I've just stayed," she noted at her retirement, "It looked to me like we were going to build a university and that sounded exciting." 23 She was right. From its beginnings as two small branches of Indiana University and Purdue University, IUPUI has grown into an identity of its own, thanks to the help of numerous administrators like Miriam Langsam.


1 Lilli S. Hornig, “Affirmative Action Through Affirmative Attitudes,” in Elga Wasserman, Erie Y. Lewin, and Linda H. Bleiweis, eds., Women in Academia: Evolving Policies Towards Equal Opportunities (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1975), 14.

2 Wasserman, et. al., 1; Peggy Elder, “Women in Higher Education: Qualified, Except for Sex,” NASPA Journal 13, 2 (1975), 13; Kul B. Rai and John W. Critzer, Affirmative Action and the University: Race, Ethnicity, and Gender in Higher Education Employment (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2000), 187.

3 Jessie Shirley Bernard, Academic Women (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1964), 83, 126.

4 Ralph D. Gray, IUPUI – The Making of an Urban University (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2003), 29, 31.

5 "Mary Louise Rea Had Headed IUPUI's English Department," Indianapolis Star, 24 March 2002, p.6B; "IUPUI teacher an inspiration to students," Indianapolis News, 1 July 1985, 25; Faculty & Staff Directories, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI.

6 Ibid.

7 "Rebecca Pitts, Feminist Leader," Indianapolis News, 15 October 1983, p20 c1.

8 "Rebecca Pitts, Feminist Leader"; "Good Teachers Know What Stirs Students’ Enthusiasm," Indianapolis Star, 13 March 1983, pG1 c4.

9 "Dauner, Margaret Louise", Indianapolis Star, 24 Aug 2005; Department of English Records, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives. 

10 Ibid.

11 “Margaret Cook, IUPUI Emeritus,” Indianapolis News, 12 January 1984, 38; The Reporter, 4 no. 3 (December 1960), 2.

12 Ibid; Etcetera, February 1984, p. 5, UA 002 Box 5; Report of the Dean of the Downtown Campus of Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis 1973-4, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives; The Reporter, 2 no. 7 (April 1959), 3.

13 Etcetera, February 1984, p. 5; Faculty News Letter, 21 no. 10 (8 June 1973), 6; Report of the Dean of the Downtown Campus of Indiana University – Purdue University at Indianapolis 1970-1 and 1971-2, Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives.

14 “Merging Interests,” Indiana University Foundation website,, accessed 3 August 2007.

15 "IUPUI Administrator, Student Advocate Miriam Langsam to Retire, Forty Years of Service Marked by Initiative, Humor, and Intellectualism," IUPUI News Release, 31 July 2003; Gray, 239-40.

16 Oral History Interview, Miriam Langsam, 6 February 1997, p. 3, 4, 22 in Ruth Lilly Special Collections and Archives, IUPUI; Bayer, 14-15.

17 Langsam Oral History, 6 February 1997, p. 1; 14 February 1997, p. 1.

18 Langsam Oral History, 14 February 1997, p. 36-7.

19 Langsam Oral History, 14 February 1997, p. 37-9, 41, 47.

20 Langsam Oral History, 6 February 1997, p. 1, 38-40; 24 February 1997, p. 22, 25; "IUPUI Administrator, Student Advocate Miriam Langsam to Retire, Forty Years of Service Marked by Initiative, Humor, and Intellectualism."

21 "IUPUI Administrator, Student Advocate Miriam Langsam to Retire, Forty Years of Service Marked by Initiative, Humor, and Intellectualism."

22 Langsam Oral History, 24 February 1997, p. 24.

23 "IUPUI Administrator, Student Advocate Miriam Langsam to Retire, Forty Years of Service Marked by Initiative, Humor, and Intellectualism."


List of Sites


Site 1: Robert Long Hospital (LO) 1110 W. Michigan St.


Site 2: William H. Coleman Hospital for Women (CF)
1140 W. Michigan St.


Site 3: Ball Nurses’ Residence (BR)
1226 W. Michigan St.


Site 4: Riley Hospital for Children (RI)
702 Barnhill Dr.


Site 5: Fesler Hall (FH)
1120 South Dr.


* Site 6: Bobbs Merrill Company Building
122 E Michigan St


Site 7: Cavanaugh Hall (CA)
425 University Blvd.


Site 8: Natatorium (PE)
901 W. New York St.


Site 9: Eskenazi Hall (HR) (Herron School of Art)
735 W. New York St.


Site 10: Education/Social Work Building (ES)
902 W. New York St.


Site 11: University Library (UL)
755 W. Michigan St.


* Site 12: IUPUI Center for Women
1317 W Michigan St


Site 13: Lawrence W. Inlow Hall (IH) (School of Law)
530 W. New York St.


Site 14: Administrative Building (AO)
355 N. Lansing St.



(* former sites)


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© Content Copyright 2007, Mary Owen
For educational use only