Two Women Alumni Honored as Vanderbilt University Trailblazers

Vanderbilt University has announced the latest series of portraits honoring “trailblazers” from the university’s history. The portraits will be displayed in Kirkland Hall and depict individuals in the Vanderbilt community who have broken barriers and made a positive impact both at the university and in society at large. Of the five new portraits in this series, two are of women.

Kate Lupton was Vanderbilt’s first woman graduate. When she graduated in 1879, she was not allowed to participate in the commencement ceremony and had to receive her diploma in private. After earning her degree, she went on to work in education and later became a professor of chemistry and physics at Virginia State Normal School. Throughout her career, she was an advocate for the education and full inclusion of women at Vanderbilt. In 1962, the university recognized her place in university history by naming a hall on the Branscomb Quadrangle in her honor.

Dorothy Wingfield Phillips was the first African American woman to receive an undergraduate degree from the university in 1967. She went on to receive a doctorate in biochemistry from the University of Cincinnati in 1974. Dr. Phillips had a highly esteemed career at Dow Chemical Company and the Waters Corporation. In 1973, she became a member of the American Chemical Society. She was elected to the ACS board of directors in 2013 and continues to serve as director-at-large. In 2017, Vanderbilt honored her by creating two Dorothy J. Wingfield Phillips Chancellor’s Faculty Fellowships to support mid-career faculty members who are leaders in diversity in STEM at Vanderbilt.

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