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The late Ninetta May Runnals 

Ninetta Runnals

Ninetta May Runnals has been viewed as "one of Maine's most respected leaders in educational circles." Miss Runnals served as Dean of Women at Colby College in Waterville for 27 years.

A Colby alumna herself, Miss Runnals accepted the position of Dean of Women and Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Colby in 1920.

One of her first achievements was the development of the Department of Hygiene and Physical Education for women and the hiring of a corresponding director for the 1921-22 academic year. This department was not in existence the previous year and was then only under consideration by the Board of Trustees.

Prior to 1920, an effort was made by the Colby trustees to divide the institution into two separate colleges for men and women. Upon her arrival, Dean Runnals succeeded in keeping the campus as a coordinate college so that female students would have the same courses and opportunities available to them as did male students.

Dean Runnals was a leader in the fundraising for the Women's Union, which was constructed prior to WW II at the cost of $100,000, raised entirely by the alumnae. In 1959, the Board of Trustees voted to name the women's student union on the Mayflower Hill campus Runnals Union in her honor.

She was founder of the Waterville branch of the American Association of University Women. In 1973, she received a citation from the A.A.U.W. for "developing quality education for women."

Dean Runnals was awarded an honorary doctor of letters degree by Colby in 1929. She was the only female faculty member prior to 1949 to have the Colby yearbook, The Oracle, dedicated to her (1938) by the seniors.

Colby President Bixler was quoted in 1959 as saying, "Dean Runnals has enriched this College beyond measure. No one is held in higher esteem by the alumnae whom she served with affection and understanding during nearly three decades."

Ninetta Runnals died at the age of 95 in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine.

1960 Photograph

Inducted March, 1992