April 29, 2009

Coast Guard to name ship for Purdue's first dean of women

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The U.S. Coast Guard is honoring Dorothy C. Stratton, Purdue University's first full-time dean of women, by naming a ship for her.

The Stratton, a National Security Cutter, will be the Coast Guard's first white-hull patrol cutter in 20 years named for a woman. The ship, which is one of eight National Security Cutters to be built, is scheduled to be completed and delivered in 2011.

Stratton, who died in 2006 at the age of 107, became the first full-time dean of women at Purdue in 1933 and also was a professor of psychology. During her time at Purdue, women's enrollment increased from 500 to more than 1,400, and three modern women's residence halls were constructed. A liberal science program for women in the School of Science was inaugurated, and an employment placement center for Purdue women was instituted during Stratton's tenure.

In 1942 she left Purdue and was commissioned as a full lieutenant in the U.S. Navy as part of the Women Appointed Volunteer Emergency Service, or WAVES. Later in 1942, she was transferred to the U.S. Coast Guard to organize its first women's reserve during World War II.

Stratton coined the reserve's name, SPARS, by using the first letters of the Coast Guard's motto "Semper Paratus" and its English translation "Always Ready." Upon being named SPARS director, she was promoted to lieutenant commander. She was promoted to commander in January 1944 and to captain one month later.

During her four years as SPARS director, Stratton recruited and led 10,000 enlisted women and 1,000 commissioned officers. Upon her retirement in 1946, she was awarded the Legion of Merit medal for her contributions to women in the military.

At 418 feet, the National Security Cutter is the largest and most technologically advanced white-hull patrol cutter ever developed for the Coast Guard. The cutter is the flagship of the Coast Guard's fleet, capable of speeds in excess of 28 knots and is capable of executing maritime safety, security and natural resource stewardship missions, according to the Coast Guard.

Less than 10 Coast Guard cutters have been named for women in the service's 218-year history.

Writer: Christy Jones, 765-494-1089, christyjones@purdue.edu

Sources: Thomas B. Robinson, vice president for Student Services, 765-494-5776, trobinson@purdue.edu

L. Tony Hawkins, dean of students, 765-494-1239, lthawkins@purdue.edu

Laura A. Williams, U.S. Coast Guard, laura.a.williams@uscg.mil

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096; purduenews@purdue.edu

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