Remembering Mary Robinson

Western's last Dean of Women was no fan of rules that were just for women
Window magazine staff

Sen. Jeannie Darneille, ’71, B.A., art history, was saddened to read in the winter 2021 edition of Window magazine about the passing of Mary Rowland Robinson, who spent about 20 years in administration at Western, retiring as vice president for Human Resources.

Darneille met Robinson when she was dean of women. “Her interventions with me, thoughtful mentoring, and friendship while I was a student at WWSC really helped frame my life and advocacy,” says Darneille, who now represents Tacoma in the Washington State Senate. “It may be hard to believe that Western had rules governing female students: We could not wear pants on campus before 4 p.m., for instance. Mary disagreed with this and other discriminatory practices facing female students, and she and I developed a bond. She ultimately led the way to ending those discriminatory practices. I know she had many very public outstanding achievements, but mentoring me changed my life. Today, in my 21st year in the Washington State Legislature, I honor her memory by fighting for the advancement of women.”

Photo courtesy of WWU Libraries Heritage Resources