Vanderbilt University Diversity Milestones (1785-2021)

Inclusion is a core value for each of Vanderbilt’s ten schools and colleges. The University has a broad array of offices, departments, centers and initiatives dedicated to fostering equity, diversity, inclusion and belonging in our community. This timeline collects milestones from the founding of Peabody in 1785 through the latest developments at Vanderbilt in 2021.

1785-08-01 00:00:00

Peabody College established

Peabody College started in a one-room schoolhouse in Nashville when Davidson College was chartered by the state of North Carolina (which then included Tennessee).

1873-08-01 00:00:00

Cornelius Vanderbilt donated $1 million to endow a University

Cornelius Vanderbilt was a shipping and passenger transportation magnate who amassed a fortune of $100 million. In 1873, he made a $1 million gift to endow and establish a university that would "contribute to strengthening the ties which should exist between all sections of our common country."

1875-08-01 00:00:00

Peabody's first women faculty

Professors Emma Cutter and Julia Sears were the first women faculty at Peabody College. Sears taught at Peabody until her retirement in 1907.

1875-08-01 04:00:24

First woman student to earn a degree

Kate Lupton began to sit in on classes in 1875. She was the first woman to earn a degree from Vanderbilt University in 1879.

1877-08-01 00:00:00

First Mexican students to attend Vanderbilt

Juan Pardo and Juan Sierra Valencia, both from Mexico, attended Vanderbilt Divinity School which was then referred to as the Biblical Department.

1885-05-31 00:05:45

First Asian graduate of Vanderbilt University

Song Jiashu, also known as "Charles Jones Soong," a student from China, received a theology certificate from the Biblical Department.

1889-05-31 00:00:00

First Indigenous graduates from the Law School

William Wirt Hastings and William P. Thompson, both members of the Cherokee Nation, graduated from Vanderbilt Law School in 1889.

1889-08-01 00:23:11

First Asian student to attend the Law School

Reikichi Sugayama of Japan attended Vanderbilt Law School for two years.

1890-05-31 22:58:38

First Asian graduate of the School of Medicine

Genrio Hashimoto from Japan graduated with an M.D. from the School of Medicine.

1892-08-01 16:45:20

Women students accepted into all academic courses

The Vanderbilt Registrar noted that "young women, who are not less than sixteen years of age and thoroughly prepared, will be admitted by courtesy to any of the courses in the Academic Department."

Vanderbilt University Diversity Milestones (1785-2021)

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