Academics and Research / Current Issue - Winter14

Interview: Lynn Gangone, dean of Colorado Women’s College

“We have a deep commitment to making sure educated women understand that it’s not just that they receive the education, it’s what they do with it,” says Lynn Gangone, dean of Colorado Women’s College. Photo: Wayne Armstrong

Colorado Women’s College of the University of Denver celebrated its 125th anniversary in November, months after reclaiming its historic name (for many years it was known simply as the Women’s College). We talked with Dean Lynn Gangone about where the CWC stands now — and where it’s headed.


Q: Give us a brief overview of your school — a general snapshot of the education you provide to students.

A: We provide an environment where women who have complex lives, whether they’re 18 or 65, are able to get a University of Denver undergraduate degree. Our students are likely working or caring for someone while immersed as undergraduate students, and we provide a quality education in an environment where who they are as women is really celebrated. Our mission is to educate women to be bold leaders. The data show that women still are not showing up in leadership positions across the country in ways they need to. A Colorado Women’s College education emphasizes the importance of understanding leadership and provides experience leading both in and out of the classroom.


Q: Colorado Women’s College has a unique student body; describe your typical student.

A: We serve women who live and work in Colorado. Demographically, the average age of our students is 30–31. About 45 to 50 percent identify as women of color, and about 10 percent have emigrated to the U.S. from other countries. A recent initiative is to partner with local high schools to recruit underrepresented students into the college, and I am excited about bringing these young women to CWC.


Q: You’ve had a big year with reclaiming your legacy name and celebrating your 125th anniversary. In your view, what do these two milestones mean to the school? To Colorado?

A: When we were founded in 1888, the city of Denver was growing, and Colorado Women’s College was seen as a place inside the Rocky Mountain region that would have great influence. At that time, most prestigious universities did not admit women; women’s colleges existed to educate women at the level that colleges were educating men. Colorado Women’s College has a strong legacy of attracting women from all over the country, women who sought to distinguish themselves in Colorado with its more open, Western sensibility. With our rich history behind us, we now need to look to the future to elevate women into leadership roles. We have a deep commitment to making sure educated women understand that it’s not just that they receive the education, it’s what they do with it.


Q: Looking forward, what do you see for the Colorado Women’s College over the next 125 years?

A: One of the things I love about Colorado Women’s College is that it is incredibly resilient and never afraid to change with the times. We’ve created innovative programs and will continue to change to fulfill the demands of the day. The cool thing about a place like Colorado Women’s College is that we exemplify what we ask of our students. We take risks, look at possibility, shift our structure and exercise bold leadership. I have no doubt that at some point CWC will transition again; I don’t know what that will look like, but I’m looking forward to it.

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