University of Kentucky

Hall of Distinguished Alumni

Sarah Gibson Blanding

Born in Fayette County, Ky., on November 22, 1898. Died, March 3, 1985. Educator. Administrator. Consultant to government. University of Kentucky, A.B. degree, 1923.

Educated in the public schools of Lexington, she was a graduate of the New Haven Normal School of Gymnastics, the University of Kentucky (B.A. 1923), Columbia University (M.A. 1926), and studied at the London School of Economics (1928-29).

She began her career in education at the University, where she was an Instructor of physical education, Dean of Women, and Assistant Professor of political science. She was Dean of Women from 1924 to 1941.

In 1941 she was named Director, and in 1942 Dean of the New York State College of Home Economics, Cornell University. She was President of Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, 1946-64, the first woman to hold the position. She retired in 1964.

The University awarded her the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1946.

She also served as President of the National Association, Deans of Women. She was appointed by Governor Dewey of New York as Director of Human Nutrition for the State of New York, and as a member of the Temporary Commission to Study the Need for a State University of New York.

President Roosevelt appointed her to the Committee on Welfare and Recreation, during World War II, and to the Board of Economic Cooperation Commission.

In all the appointments to various presidential commissions, she was the only woman named, including President Truman's Commission on Higher Education, the First Board of Foreign Scholarships administering Fulbright Scholarships, and the National Committee that chose the first Marshall Fellowships.

She was decorated by the U. S. War Department for exceptional civilian service," and was elected an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa by the University of Kentucky chapter. Blanding Tower and its affiliated low-lying buildings of the Kirwan-Blanding Complex at UK is named in her honor.

She has been the recipient of 18 honorary degrees from various colleges and universities, and a scholarship was established in her honor by the alumnae of the New York State College of Home Economics.

The Sarah Gibson Blanding endowed chair was established at Vassar by 1,919 alumnae.

Sarah Gibson Blanding was named to the Hall of Distinguished Alumni in February 1965.