Letter of the Day (April 12): Gender equity in Statuary Hall

  • Updated: April 11, 2014 - 6:34 PM

A statue of U Prof. Maria Sanford, one of the nation’s first female professors, is on display at the U.S. Capitol.


Maria Sanford, pioneering professor

Photo: Photo by Lee Brothers • Star Tribune file,

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“A plea for gender equity in Capitol’s Statuary Hall,” reprinted April 9 from the Los Angeles Times, mentions that only nine of 100 statues in the U.S. Capitol’s Statuary Hall are of women. Minnesotans should be proud that Maria Sanford, along with Henry Mower Rice, represents Minnesota.

In 1870, Sanford became one of the first female professors in the United States. University of Minnesota President William Watts Folwell recruited her in 1880. Folwell later said: “The greatest thing I ever did for the university was to bring Maria Sanford here.” In 1909, the year she retired at age 73, Maria gave the U’s commencement address, the first woman to do so at a major university. In 1910, Sanford Hall was named in her honor. Generations of University of Minnesota students who have lived in Sanford Hall would enjoy researching and reading more about this remarkable woman.

Karen Fults Kaler, St. Paul

The writer is the wife of University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler.

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