First Woman Admitted to Westminster: Betsy Schultz Humphreys ’83

In 1979, Westminster College officially admitted the first female student to campus after a long history of being an all-male school. Betsy Humphreys ’83 became the first of many future Blue Jay women.

Born and raised in Fulton, Betsy attended Fulton High School. Her father, John Schultz, was a chemistry professor and a member of the administration at Westminster at the time they decided to allow women to enroll. Her father was a graduate of Westminster and her mother graduated from William Woods University. Betsy can remember growing up around students and the school.

It was August of her senior year in high school when Betsy’s dad first brought home the application to Westminster. Betsy was thrilled. Westminster had never been an option for her before and suddenly she was given the chance to attend a school she had already loved her whole life. She finished the application that night and less than a week later, Betsy was officially accepted. Immediately, Betsy was part of a media frenzy about her acceptance.

“They published my story in the paper, I had my picture taken,” she says. “It was really a big deal.” Betsy was excited and had high expectations for her first year at Westminster. She couldn’t wait to start.

betsy I.s. humphreys“In many ways, my years at Westminster lived up to my expectations, but in so many other ways they were nothing like I imagined.”

Betsy and the other young women in her class faced many challenges during the years they attended. She can remember some of the social exclusion the girls felt from the upperclassmen who had come to Westminster in part because it was one of the last all-male schools in the nation at that time. The girls weren’t generally invited to fraternity parties, and they were slammed in multiple college paper articles.

As a computer science and mathematics major, Betsy found that her professors were all very accommodating. She remembers her math classes fondly: “I had one professor who really made me fall in love with math. I had always been good at math before, but I had never cared about doing it until I came here.”

Betsy married a fellow student from Westminster, Steve Humphreys, in their junior year. Only a little over one third of the women in the first class of 1979 walked through the Columns again at graduation, and Betsy was among them.

One of Betsy’s fondest memories of her time at Westminster was recieving her diploma from her dad after the four years she spent earning her degree. She felt a deep sense of pride and accomplishment, knowing she had done something truly great in her time at school.

After graduation, Betsy started a 35-year-long career with AT&T, and she is still working there today. Her two daughters, Katherine ’09 and Sarah ’13, both graduated from Westminster. As head of the Parent Association at the time of their graduation, Betsy and Steve had the opportunity to hand their daughters their diplomas. She was thrilled to stand where her own father had stood some years before and watch with pride as Katherine and Sarah followed in her footsteps.

Betsy and the other pioneering ladies who joined the school in 1979 have certainly paved the way for all future generations of women on campus. Their legacy has changed the school and the lives of its students forever.


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Westminster College

This is the editorial account for Westminster College news team. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions or comments.

1 Response

  1. Louis Riggs says:

    Great account of our history!