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This may seem like a simple question, but it actually has three answers: 1863, 1871, and 1874. In 1863, the UW first allowed women in its Normal Department, which taught students who would “norm” other students — that is, help to form their behavior and intellect. In other words, it taught teachers. (It was the forerunner of the School of Education, which was officially established in 1930.) However, then-president Paul Chadbourne was outspokenly opposed to the idea of coeducation, so the Normal Department was replaced by an entirely separate Female College, which opened in 1867. Then in 1871, the Board of Regents voted to allow men and women to study the same curriculum. When Chadbourne’s successor, John Bascom, took over in 1874, the first coed commencement ceremonies started. In 1901, to “honor” President Chadbourne’s views on coeducation, the board of regents renamed the women-only dormitory Chadbourne Hall.

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