Dean of Women

Adele Starbird, Dean of Women
Adele Starbird, Dean of Women

Established in 1913, four women held this position of liaison, advocate, and supervisor for female students:

  • Martha McCaulley, 1913 - 1920

  • Edith Fenton, 1920 - 1926

  • Elizabeth Williamson, 1926 - 1930

  • Adele Chomeau Starbird, 1931 - 1959


Adele Starbird held this position for 28 years, and oversaw many changes on campus for female students. 

The Dean of Women position was abolished with her retirement in 1959, and the duties were reorganized into the Student Affairs Department.

Starbird received both her B.A. (1927) and M.A. (1933) from Washington University.  She also studied at Columbia University, partially completing a doctoral degree in French language and literature.  After her husband's death in 1916, Starbird began teaching French at Mary Institute.  In 1931 she became the Dean of Women at Washington University. 

She received a W.U. distinguished faculty award in 1967,  an honorary degree from Lindenwood University, and was decorated by the French Government with Les Palmes de Academique.  For over 30 years she wrote a popular newspaper column in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "The Dean Speaks Up."  In 1977, a collection of her columns was published in the book Many Strings to My Lute.  Among those who paid tribute to her work was actress and alumni Mary Wickes, who described Starbird as "... that increasingly rara avis - a true lady, cultured and worldly."